I was never one to believe that knowledge would ever be bad. I’ve always been a strong believer that knowledge, by itself, was something objective and fair, something that must be filtered and OPVLed and evaluated. That knowledge was never hurtful in its own way, but instead, the misinterpretation of knowledge brought pain and suffering.

But the more I think about it, the more conflicted I am.

One of the strongest cases I have to bring is my move from Knoxville to Seattle. Call it what you want, but that move was really eye-opening for me. Yes, maybe I was just a country bumpkin seeing the bright lights of the city for the first time. I was shocked by how everything moved so fast, how students were able to do anything they wanted, how everyone had opinions – such opinions!- and were working towards something greater than themselves.

I saw all of this and was afraid.

One of my most vivid memories from 8th grade was walking home from the NorthWest Chinese School’s math classes. It was the first time that I was in such an intense learning environment, with students younger than I was! We never had those kinds of experiences in Farragut; we just went to competitions every now and then, and there was a Mu Alpha Theta chapter at the high school that I participated in. As long as you followed the rules and played by the books, you were considered golden. I wasn’t prepared for geniuses  like this.

After that meeting, I hung my head and walked home in shame. I lived close by, in an apartment during that time, and all along the walk, I wondered aloud: Was it really a good thing to come to Bellevue? To compete with the best and the brightest?

I’ve always managed to convince myself that having the additional information outweighed being ignorant. After all, ignorance does not absolve you of your incompetence! It doesn’t relax you when you go into college unprepared, nor does it help when you are struggling later in life. Those who willingly stay in ignorance are fools.

And yet…

Would you rather be a happy fool or a cynical wise man? Would you rather see the world as it is, with all of its terrors and darkness, or dream on in a utopia of bubbles and laughter?

I shall stick to my principles. I will take the knowledge as it comes, regardless of how hurtful it may be. “You aren’t going to be the best.” “There are people out there more deserving than yourself.” “People in your same situation are able to go much further than you have.” “She just really isn’t all that into you.” “You aren’t doing a good enough job.” “You don’t deserve this trust.” “You aren’t worth it.”

I swallow each bitter pill, relishing the painful knowledge that it brings. But now I too understand the minds of those happy, those soma eating ignorant fools.


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