I went in to see her for the mandatory meeting about our research papers. We did all of those mandatory research paper-y things. Just as I was leaving, she stopped me and said, “I know you’re a music major, and I think that’s great. My brother was a music major, and I, actually, started out as a music major, but I was wondering what else you’re doing in addition to that.” I was taken aback, and after pursing my lips and thinking a second, I responded, “Well, I’m also a Spanish major,” and I told her about my love of languages. For some reason, I don’t know why I did, but I mentioned this blog and the sort of things that I write on here. I’d already been thinking for a few months that once I finish the first full draft of my book that I might ask this particular professor if she’d be willing to read it. “It’s just that you are very intelligent, and I think that you’re going to need something more than music, something to stimulate your mind in a different way.” As I walked away, I marveled at the connection I’d built with this professor that she cared enough about me to talk to me about the future, to tell me that I have a great mind.
In January, my roommate and I took a strengths finder seminar in which you took an inventory to find your top five strengths (out of thirty possible choices) and then learned how to best use them. My top five were learner, input, connectedness, developer, and individualization. And the same professor I mentioned above was also at this seminar and we chatted briefly about which strengths I had and the implications of them. She said she wasn’t in the least bit surprised that my top two were learner and input, informing me that they are the most common top two for college professors. She also said that students with that combination tend to be like huskies, always looking for something new and tearing the couch to pieces if they are idle and bored. I’d never seriously thought about it, but it’s true. I love learning; I’m always on the hunt for something new and exciting.
I began to wonder how someone who has suffered from mental illness could still have such a fabulous mind. And then I remembered watching A Beautiful Mind last year in AP Psychology, the story of John Nash who despite his paranoid schizophrenia won a Nobel Laureate in Economics (summary of the movie here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Beautiful_Mind_%28film%29). The reality is that how healthy your mind is has no bearing on how beautiful it is. And I realized that it’s possible to be a sane “insane” person. That sanity comes from understanding the insanity that you’re dealing with. And that’s all anyone can ever ask for.
To all of the beautiful minds out there: may you always be treasured and never be wasted.
R.I.P. John and Alicia Nash, May 24, 2015 (http://www.cnn.com/2015/05/24/us/feat-john-nash-wife-killed/)