I enjoyed reading “The importance of stupidity in scientific research" by Martin A. Schwartz which I learned existed through @hmason and @simplystats.
I found the point of how it’s normal to feel stupid in academia and specially in Ph.D. programs to be illuminating. But Schwartz clarifies that there are other kinds of stupid:
we don’t do a good enough job of teaching our students how to be productively stupid – that is, if we don’t feel stupid it means we’re not really trying. I’m not talking about 'relative stupidity’, in which the other students in the class actually read the material, think about it and ace the exam, whereas you don’t. I’m also not talking about bright people who might be working in areas that don’t match their talents. Science involves confronting our `absolute stupidity’.
I don’t know about you, but I have certainly been ‘relative stupid’ at times.
And yes, we have to confront our ‘absolute stupidity’. But to me, graduate school is also about learning how to be super efficient with your time. That implies being highly organized, learning how to canalize your distractions, and finding sources of constant motivation. For example, I now read more stats/R/research blogs as part of my set of distractions and have considerably decreased how many sport news I read.
I also struggle with the internal challenge of doing great at school, but then also ‘having a life’. So yes, at times I have been ‘relative stupid’ but also had a great time. After all, I no longer need to ‘ace’ all my exams.