November 6, 2009

I put the H in Wino...

They serve good coffee at University-sponsored banquets. As I admired the way my french-manicured-specially-for-this-occasion-nails gracefully lifted the cup, I prepared myself for the glory of the upcoming paper competition awards ceremony. The Nebraska Undergraduate Sociology Symposium (NUSS) was supposed to be a showcase of my hard work over the past 18 months. The project that nearly stole my soul was intended to baffle the judges with its ingenious topic and bedazzle them with my sophisticated writing style.

I sipped anxiously, heart on vibrate, awaiting the announcement:

Fourth place went to someone I didn't know.

Third place, another unknown person.

Second place, the person I saw as my biggest competition.

Okay good, I thought. It's the perfect set up--I've just edged out my competition. I prepared myself for the onslaught of applause, praise, and

...ugly disappointment?

I hadn't won. In fact, I hadn't even placed. Crushed, but trying to conceal the deflated ego that wrapped around me like a faulty parachute, I tried to act normal. I wanted to hide behind the nasty fake tree in the corner and sneer at the winner for having such a fantastic paper.

I was mad at my mentor who said that I had a great chance of winning. Despite the tremendous effort I put into the paper, the whole thing suddenly felt so stupid and ridiculous because no one gave a hoot. Actually, I was mad at myself for taking this so poorly. I was really mad at the other attendees for still being in the room, impeding any massive meltdown that I might have had otherwise.

No worries, it's just NUSS, I say with good intentions. Yeah, it's just NUSS, a small conference of undergraduates and my paper was unsuccessful. I'm applying as a professional whiner.