There are two ways to attack finals week. The first is to buckle down, exhaust yourself, lose a few pounds on Adderall, and hopefully get a decent grade. The other way is to say screw it, convince yourself it is not worth it, spend as much time as possible talking to others about how much they also hate finals, and hopefully get a good grade. I have used both these methods over my academic career and in true honesty, they both have proven equally effective for me.
After long nights the sunrise has illuminated the dreary pages of my textbook and after longer ones I’ve hoped my professor didn’t notice I’m hung over at the exam. Despite either effort, my performance has rarely been variable – I am still trying to make sense of it.
I often envy the students who enjoy their classes, the ones that talk about how much they’ve learned in class. I’ve never had that, my experience has been quite opposite. “If there is something you love to do, something that you are passionate about, make damn sure you never take a class in it.” would be my advice to anyone in, or coming into, college. For there have been no other people in my life that are able to suck the enthusiasm out of my heart like a professor. No other professional has been able to queer me towards any interests I’ve developed. While I’ve met professors I’ve liked, I’ve never learned from them “teaching me”.
The lessons I’ve stumbled upon sober and not in college have been peripheral. Life lessons, people call them. The things you learn by living and doing. While wasting away the hours in classes, pretending to memorize pages of material I find most useful as toilet paper, the value proposition of the cost of education over the utility hammers away at me. The stereotypical “Why am I here?’ question of existence is just as pertinent to college. Why are we here?
Many tell us it’s for opportunity, but 85% of graduates are underemployed. Plus, let’s not bullshit, very few of us are paying $200,000 for a school to have ‘opportunity’, we are really just trying to buy ourselves a job. Most kids wouldn’t recognize opportunity if it bit them in the ass – for one, my ass is scarred with bite marks. I constantly beat myself over the head for deciding on pursuing a hospitality degree – where most kids are stoked on a $40,000 a year front desk assistant manager job for a hotel corporation. I guess when you don’t know where you want to go, it’s easy to get lost; at least that’s what happened to me.
What works best for me is most definitely not going to work best for you. The happiest days of my life were spent living in a tent with no more than a few board shorts and no shower in weeks. While my interests and passions have greatly changed from those days, my spirit really hasn’t. At the end of the day, I’m just trying to find my next river – sure as hell ain’t here.