Hungry, but Donuts Just Aren’t Enough

magical donuts

I’m hungry.

But not for donuts.

Don’t get me wrong–donuts are great. My physics professor and I even have a running joke about donuts.

But this is a hunger for affirmation, and for that, donuts just don’t cut it.

It’s terrible. It’s a never satiated hunger. You get a little bit of affirmation here, a little bit there–and it feels really good, but it leaves you wanting more. You feel really good when you get it, and it’s all happy-day, happy-day. And the next day is a Very Bad Day–but why? What changed within the cosmos of the universe that made it into a bad day? What disaster? What loss? Nothing. Just–no affirmation today. And that’s as hard as missing lunch, with all accompanying grumpiness.

I was talking about this with myself yesterday. I got a physics exam handed back with a 96. And I was bummed. What the heck? About the test? No. About what? Nothing. Just miserable.

So I picked at it and picked at it and picked at it, and I realized, I didn’t really want the grade–I wanted the affirmation. Wasn’t the grade affirmation? Not for me. I wanted to see it in my professor’s face, hear it in his voice. When I got the 90 on the previous exam, you’d have been hard pressed to tell who was more proud and pleased of the result. That, I wanted. The number–it didn’t really mean anything.

Today, I went to his office hours, ostensibly to ask him if he would be a reference for me as I apply to graduate school. Then we chatted for half an hour, because we could, and it was pleasant. But–since we were chatting–my 96 exam came up. The pleased tone at how well I was chugging right along, perfect on every page. The minor disappointment that I didn’t manage to pull of the one-zero-zero, on account of being stupid with a calculator on the last page. Here, we shared the joy of my effort and the sorrow of my failure, and affirmed my existence as a person. And today, I am happy.

And tomorrow, I will be hungry again.

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