From my Agro self (written last year):
When I graduated high school I was really done. Done with the system and it’s regulations and rules. I took a few years off to be my own person. Now I’m in my second year of university: Watching all the fresh faced 18 year olds streaming in for orientation week, ready to start school… again.
Not to sound discouraging but they’re crazy. Some of them are just 17! I listen to their conversations and I hear people who don’t have money to go to school, people who are being bankrolled, people who are still dependent. I hear people who have no idea why they’re studying what they’re studying (and getting a “good” job doesn’t count), or they don’t have a realistic view of what they’re getting into. I watch them move through the university, perfectly made up, wearing their best clothes, still attempting to snub the people who don’t appear good enough to them. What they don’t realize is that it’s no longer a popularity contest, it certainly was never a race, and acting as though you’re better than other people doesn’t actually make it so. This peculiar type of immaturity makes me wonder when it was that we decided that we didn’t have enough time to gain experiences and instead should stumble after one another to broken university systems like the blind leading the blind.
When did our society become obsessed with the speed at which we arrive at a destination instead of the journey we’re making? The speed mentality says that the straightest line to a destination is the best because it’s faster but if we do that we’ll find ourselves blasting through mountains with dynamite instead of journeying over them and experiencing the beauty. I have a friend who is in his thirties- he’s a certified chef, he’s worked at grocery stores, and Shoppers Drug Mart, he was a florist, and was going to go into pharmacy but was inspired after his first year back at school to go into an honours English degree. I remember last year talking with him about marks and averages- after two years out of school I was unimpressed with my return performance. My friend said something that really hit me, knowing his history, “You have so much time.”
What I am convinced of, as a “mature” student, is that expectations are not always right. The expectation that you will go to university or trade school or go straight to work and stay there is wrong. Life runs something like this: Don’t think too hard about things, race through the week to the weekend, then race through the next week. Race to own your own place, race to settle down, race to retirement. Run hard! Wait, stop! I can run forward forever with my eyes closed like the world encourages me to, and really get nowhere because I didn’t realize that I was running on a treadmill instead of the open road: racing onwards and reaching no significant destination other than a socially acceptable adult life. I want something more interesting than that. I want to climb a mountain and stand on top and scream, whether everyone thinks that’s great or not.
The pressure is there though. I plan on applying to a secondary college this year, one that is difficult to get into, and I told some friends (a pair of married engineers) that if I didn’t get in I would be taking a year off. I’ve talked with my parents, especially my father about this before. I have no plans to let university rule my life the way high school did, when I want a break I’ll take one and do something I want to do regardless of it’s relevance to my degree. The family friends I told this to though, were horrified. They started assuring me I was smart and saying there’s no reason I needed to do that. They’re right, I don’t need to take a year off, I want to. I never want to catch myself following sheople around just because they say they’re right.
I’m sure some of these first years are going in with open eyes, and really want to continue school but, how many are going to piddle away first year (and all their money) partying because they really aren’t there to go to school? Stop racing onwards! Start climbing upwards! I’m not saying don’t work, but rather work hard at whatever you like- don’t consult the world. Want to be a saddle maker for horses? Search out a great saddler and ask if they take apprentices, if they don’t find someone who does. Want to be a travel writer? Earn some money, travel, write, send your work to people see what they think. Want to try out something? Try it out, maybe you’ll end up wanting to take a degree in it. Take a journey to what it is you want and let the experiences along the way shape you.
All you first years, I have loads of love for you, dream big. Don’t sell yourself short just because the world wants you to. Find what you love before you shell out thousands of dollars a year to take a degree in it.