12.18.2010

Works like a dog

Today the Women's and Gender Studies Program at the College of Charleston awarded degrees in WGS to three students--the first three students to have a WGS degree from CofC!  That isn't what this post is about--I'll have a separate one about that at some point.  What this post is about:  while I was walking home from the graduation ceremony, I reflected on the students who've come in and out of my life, and the qualities they have that resonate with me.  Some students are sort of naturally, inherently brilliant--ideas make sense to them automatically, they don't have to agonize over revisions or scheduling, they effortlessly produce quotable quips.  Others, like me, work like dogs.

The back story:  I started taking classes in modern and jazz dance when I was in ninth grade.  By the time I got to college, the teachers at the dance studio told me that I was ready to be promoted into the accelerated classes--but to be in accelerated jazz and modern, you have to be taking ballet.  Those of you who know me personally may think to yourselves, "Hmm, Alison doesn't seem like the ballet type."  You would be right.  But I loved jazz and modern, and I wanted to be promoted, so I started taking ballet.

One day, about halfway through my first year in ballet, the teacher stopped the class.  She was a tough woman, equal parts talented and demanding, and she did not take any shit.  I really respected her. "Class," she announced, "I want you all to stop what you're doing and watch Alison Piepmeier.  Alison Piepmeier hasn't taken ballet before this year, but she works like a dog."  I remember glowing with the pleasure of that praise.  I was terrible at ballet, but everything she told me to do, I tried my hardest to do it.  Not one bit of it came naturally, but I worked like a dog.  She was offering me what I immediately recognized as an incredible compliment, and one that I think of often even in my life today.

I think this is still one of my noteworthy characteristics.  When I have a student who has that quality, the willingness to work like a dog, I feel a kind of familiarity, an attachment, and confidence.  Working like a dog won't take care of everything, but I'd argue it's far more reliable than intelligence, physical capacity, or some of the other characteristics we like to celebrate.

4 comments:

nonsooth said...

"Working like a dog won't take care of everything, but I'd argue it's far more reliable than intelligence, physical capacity, or some of the other characteristics we like to celebrate."
I agree completely.

Trey said...

http://dustincurtis.com/press_on.html

Alison said...

Hmm. Apparently I'm aligned with Calvin Coolidge. Interesting. And for those of you who'd like a clickable link, there it is.

KellyRose said...

I agree. I have been told in the past from my family members, that while I may not be the smartest or most naturally gifted, I do work the hardest. This seems to have gotten me pretty far and is something I definitely value about myself. It seems like you said, that if you are willing to work hard, you can have the things you want. Being intelligent, creative, or naturally skilled is great, but if you aren't willing to work for what you want, you may never get it. There is a lot to be said for ambition and drive :)