I’ve recently corresponded with a woman who insists on being called “doctor.” As the principal of an elementary school, I’m told she asks her students and others to call her “doctor” as well. To further complicate matters, she goes by a hyphenated last name, so basically she insists on being called by three different names, instead of—ya know—just one like everybody else.
Contrast that with the man who raised me, my outstanding father. He went by Brent both professional and personally his entire life, even after getting his PhD. He rose the ranks in higher education and eventually become the second in command at a big university in Texas. But he always went by Brent. No fancy salutation needed.
Last month I met an accomplished woman named “Jen” who earned multiple Ivy League degrees from USC, Berkeley, and a PhD from Princeton. She works for National Geographic and is as accomplished as they come, yet as humble as ever. She simply goes be “Jen” and lets her work do the talking (instead of a salutation).
My family practitioner is the same. He goes by Aaron.
I could be wrong, but I suspect the first woman got a PhD to feel good about herself. She uses it as a reminder that she’s important. For whatever reason, she seemingly has confidence issues. Or maybe she feels the everyday world should validate the extra years of college she went to with a special salutation. “I’ve earned it!”
I wouldn’t call this woman a bad principal by any means. But I understand her insecurities and childish mannerisms have negatively affected some aspects of the school, which is a shame.
There are better and far easier ways to feel good about yourself. Getting a PhD isn’t one of them.