Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Why did you go to college?

This question is pretty straight forward: Why did you go to college?

Was it because you craved the expansion of knowledge, or the "experience," wanted to try it away from home, or simply wanted to come out on the other side with more opportunity than the other Average Joe next to you?

As I was slicing my umpteenth loaf of bread yesterday - I believe it was white, of course, because the majority of block loaves we sell is plain, unhealthy, unnutritious white bread - I had a moment of clarity. I love college. I love non-fiction books and preparing to discuss them with my peers. I love going out to dinner with my friends and regurgitating the information that I had consumed during the day, about baby development, about the Middle East, about psychology experiments. But when I was in college, I did not love college.

It takes a while outside of the box to see why you were in the box to begin with. I was in college because everyone else was doing it. That's right, I'm a college chain smoker. High school said "You have excellent grades, what college are you going to?" so I went through the motions and wound up, thankfully, at somewhere with a good fit. That doesn't account for my first quarter, where I came home crying every weekend and by the time Christmas rolled around, I never wanted to see a UC again. But standing outside the situation now, I love that I stuck it out.

And yesterday, as I was serving my umpteenth customer a cheese and bacon roll (they obviously didn't read my blog post about why they shouldn't eat cheese and bacon rolls), I had another moment of clarity: I went to college so I don't ever have to sell cheese and bacon rolls again. It's true. I have no desire to return home every day and talk about how many customers didn't say please or thank you, how many babies had tantrums in the mall, how much wastage we had at the end of the day or how burnt the wholemeal loaves were. I have every intention of directing my life differently, to discuss politics, history, science and interesting popular culture around the dinner table, with my friends, with my family, and even with total strangers.

It has taken a year away from university, doing completely different things, learning completely different skills and people, challenging myself not intellectually but in mental strength toward the world - it has taken all of this to finally think: Thank you to everyone who helped put me through college. Thank you for my officially notarized Bachelor's degree. My entire life is definitely going to be better because I went to college.

I made motel beds, for goodness' sake. I now wear a work uniform comparable to Hot Dog On A Stick, catching a glimpse of myself in the mall mirror is like seeing a stranger. But not worries, mate! Work ends Monday, and then I can continue looking forward to life, love, intellectual development, travel, and helping everyone I know do the same.

1 comment:

  1. Ahhhhhh - lightbulb moment! Your amazing personal education is only beginning baby girl. Not such a coincidence that your minor was in education @ UCD - and that this next year will confirm your spot as a global student and educator. Proud, as ever, of you and can't wait to see you on "home soil" shortly. Love you - dad