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I examined this new face with some care. The fear in it spoke to me of a lifetime spent desperately avoiding the stigma of stupidity, of failure, of not measuring up. I knew plenty of premeds at Harvard, and as a group, I think that they were even more obsessed than the rest of us with climbing to the very top of the prestige heap.

They were famous for things like razoring out the pages in the reserved readings for their courses, so that none of their classmates could study the material. It was said that it took two Harvard premeds to change a lightbulb, one to change the bulb and the other to push the ladder out from under him ...

I was convinced, looking at his fear-face, that Grendel's entire philosophy of life centered on obliterating the stupid little boy inside him. It was that person he feared, desperately feared, and that was why he was beginning so earnestly for a chance to obliterate the stupid little boy inside me ...

"Thank you" I said. '"You can go now.'"

- from Expecting Adam, by Martha Beck

 

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