An Oxford classmate once warned me about the phenomena. He told me he hated his job with the campaign, that they wouldn’t let him do anything. When I asked him why, he told me cryptically, “it’s because I’m the golden boy.”
At the time, I was not terribly concerned by the prospect that a campaign wouldn’t let me do the dirty work. But now I’m starting to get it.
See, when I moved back to the country, I thought it was culture shock. And maybe it is. But I’m having the same conversation over and over again.
“What do you do?”
“I’m a doctoral student.”
:: pause ::
“Oh… well, Oxford. Look at you.”
It’s the “oh” that gets me. The “don’t you think you’re special” undertone. That sense that my education sets me apart, or makes me not normal. That I can’t communicate because people can’t relate to the basic building blocks of my life the last few years.
It’s a barrier. Just like living in England for the last three years is a barrier. The preludes to my stories throw people off now. Every story has a “so I was at Oxford” or “Oxford has this college system” or “I was doing freelance for the New York Times in Athens…”
And I get it. I’ve been extremely fortunate, and I wouldn’t trade those experiences for the world. But it never occurred to me that they’d keep me from being a part of things. Disqualify me from being part of the crowd.
Make me a Golden Boy.