Winging It

A lot of you may not know it, but in my salad days I had a storied academic career. I was a solid A- student, which is to say, I never really cared enough to put in the extra twenty percent effort to get straight A’s. Or maybe I just wasn’t smart enough to get an A! It doesn’t matter.

In college, most of my friends were women, and most of the friends in my classes, specifically, were women. Very, very smart women, who, almost universally, were good at school. They took notes. They underlined things with a ruler. They highlighted. Above all, they prepared for class, prepared for tests.

I, on the other hand, would wing it. This is… not my best quality. It worked out fine, except that one time when I got my worst grade ever in a class on how to make your résumé. Turns out formatting things properly is not conducive to flying by the seat of your pants.

Nonetheless, I thought winging it in a test or for a presentation was just a knock on me and my antipathy towards Conversations of the West or Writing Workshop 2. Watching the debate last night, I was struck with a sense of deja vu. I was watching a woman and a man give a presentation, and boy howdy did the woman prepare for it and the man did not. I remembered all the times I winged it, while my smarter, better prepared women friends didn’t. For the first time, I understood that winging it is, as a doofy white guy, was a luxury I got to have, and not everyone has access to that luxury. That preparedness was for combatting whatever bullshit reasons people give in a room to say they don’t like you. That “don’t worry about it” is a lot easier to rely on when you’re the one getting the benefit of the doubt, rather than the one about whom people search for a reason to knock down a peg.

So, to all of my female friends who underlined, highlighted, and prepared, I want to say: you were right, I was wrong. Winging it was disrespectful to you. I’m sorry.

Also, can I borrow your notes?