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Pocket of Dynamite

25 Oct

I am finding humor in my current situation. I have been vaguely aware throughout my life that my presence attracts attention. I thought in my naiveté that this was normal and happened to everyone. Then I travelled to Colombia by myself and realized many stares coming my way, but I assumed it was due to my hair and eye color. Then I travelled to Australia, thinking it would be similar to my home country. I started my doctorate degree and the moment I stepped into my share office, I realized I was (firstly) the only female and (secondly) the only white person. Don’t get me wrong, I love being among different cultures and learning from a plethora of persons. It’s how it should be in the world.

However, something interesting happened to me today. I became aware that I am a sort of anomaly among my peers. I was approached by another student, whom I have never seen, on the public transport and he knew who I was. “Are you the PhD student in Aerospace? I have seen you around.” I am quiet on campus so I can understand how I may seem a mystery. We started talking and he was surprised by my age (which I get a lot). Then we parted ways and a thought occurred to me: everyone was talking about me!

“Have you seen the American girl? She is doing her PhD here.”

I have become the talk of the offices and had not even realized. I am now this mysterious little white girl who must be intelligent because she is so young and doing her doctorate. Honestly, most of the time I don’t know what I’m doing and am just trying to keep my head above water. I believe this to be truth to most people.

This brought a smile to my face today, thinking that other people are getting enjoyment through me. I am not intimidated by much and therefore can seem very driven, but that is because I love living with no regrets and try everything at least once. Afterall, we only have one chance at life.

*As a side note, I am told that I am a great public speaker and was recently introduced to an audience as a ‘pocket of dynamite’ and to not be fooled by my size.

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Rick Lee James

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