Drawing class is turning out to be an excellent way to knock down my ego. I've got this "amateur artists' arrogance," this notion that despite being completely untrained, I can draw really frickin' well. Turns out that isn't the case. In fact, it makes my drawings worse because I'll often jump into something with thick black lines, thinking it's correct, and then have Prof. Donis-Keller come around and systematically deconstruct the misshapen legs that I've already shaded in.
You could say I'm getting schooled, yeah. But this is good. It was a bit of a gut blow when I got my first sketchbook comments back, and the charcoal soup spoon I was so proud of got chewed out for having a "distracting background" and too many extraneous details. And she keeps after me for using lines all over the place, too many lines, start with the form, where are the shoulders and hips. So I keep on having to tell myself no, I'm not magic, I don't know what I'm doing nor do I have some weird intuitive sense for it; I have to start at the beginning like everyone else, stare at my paper like everyone else, think and work and sweat like everyone else. Beatin' that ego down.
Reading the Real Analysis book is beginning to do the same thing for my math sense. I'm usually proud of my intuition into proofs and computational shortcuts, but it took me a good 15 minutes to trace and retrace one of Rudin's simpler proofs (the infinite density of real numbers), and I despair of being able to make my proofs as fine and slender-boned as his. His proofs read like the flight of a flock of tiny birds; mine read like the death throes of a half-lamed elephant. There's no room to breathe when you read them.
However, I also got the unexpected comment of "good intuition!" on some circuits and signal processing stuff, which I'm usually terrible at intuiting. So the world is being turned upside down. I suck at things I'm good at, and I'm actually decent at things I'm bad at.