That early success gave me a boost of confidence, but in some ways, it spoiled me for later life. I felt devastated when my college graduation wasn’t a repeat of the adulation heaped on me four years earlier. I cried that even though I was graduating summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, I hadn’t been singled out for any individual awards. Being just one of many names on a list — even a fairly short list of the most elite students at my small, but well-regarded college — wasn’t good enough. It felt like a letdown, like I wasn’t personally valued by the school and its leaders.
I was angry — at myself for falling short in some way, for the fact that my best hadn’t been good enough, and at the school for not giving me the send-off I felt I deserved. I somehow convinced myself I had a right to feel betrayed, because I had taken out loans to attend a small private school in order to feel special and get individual attention, and the school wasn’t holding up its side of that unspoken bargain.