“With generation-specific struggles involving liberalism, gender equality, sexuality and mental illness, many drown themselves instead in parties, drugs, sex and the superficial. That does not mean that we are not aware of our responsibilities. We may be in denial of the hardships we will face, but that’s only because the real world has become more burdensome than ever before.
It’s easy to say that life back then was harder, but the world today is different from just over a decade ago. It’s normal for a college student to have experienced on-the-job training even before they are required to do so. It’s no longer strange to see someone join and be active in organizations. Fresh grads don’t seem to be more appealing than they were back then, nowadays, they pretty much need to have a lifetime’s worth of work experience…
Maybe we just want to be happy and make others happy.”
– Jomari Vista, The Benildean Vol. 2. No. 5
It’s a simple question that many people in the process of acquiring an education (regardless of their intelligence) fail to ask themselves as they face task after task from their professors and factoid after factoid in classes: What real-world problems is this information going to equip me to solve? Is it in line at all with what you want to accomplish with your life? If you become really good at turning in papers and fulfilling your professors’ arbitrary requirements and absolutely nothing else, then you will become a person who is good at turning in papers and fulfilling professors’ arbitrary requirements and absolutely nothing else. Stay in the academe.
“But a college degree is necessary nowadays.” So you want a diploma. You want that outward indicator of your worth. Is that the real reason you’re getting it? Then admit that to yourself and begin making an effort to find other ways to learn while you get your college degree.
A college degree used to be a truthful indicator of intelligence and hard work. The generations before us could only acquire a college degree by being intelligent and hardworking. We are the ones who complained about the professors who didn’t pass us, we were the ones who complained about the work. So the system relented, they indulged us, and they (via our whims and their desire to get our parents’ money) destroyed the value of a college diploma because now, any idiot can get one.
A college degree used to be a distinguishing factor precisely because they were rare. The people who had them were not respected because they owned a piece of paper; they were respected because they were equipped with skills that not many other people had.
Its value has degraded because, like paper money, it’s only worth what it represents. And it doesn’t represent anything of concrete value anymore. Of the hours upon hours you spend in class, how many of those hours are you actually learning things vs. scrolling FB or staring with glazed eyes at your prof? Of the reams and reams of papers you write, how many of those ideas have actually enriched you and influenced your behavior? Of the friends you spend your days with, how many of those people encourage your development – physically, mentally, emotionally, even spiritually?
Like a good boy / girl, you did as you were told and you worked hard. But the work you did was pointless and had no application in the real world. “They made us do this and now they won’t hire us! It’s unfair!” Of course it’s unfair. Life has always been unfair. There was a little girl in Africa who, on her 11th birthday, was dragged into a hut, held down and and had her genitals mutilated so that she would experience pain every day of her life. There was a little boy who belonged to the wrong tribe, watched his family get killed in front of him and was forced into slavery. He ran away. They caught him and beat the shit out of him. He ran away again. Same thing. Again. I don’t know how many times. They both work for the UN now. Life is unfair, but you have so much more than most people in the world could ever dream of having.
This is the true source of your dissatisfaction and your anxiety – not that your desires aren’t being handed to you on a silver platter, but because they are being handed to you, and you know you don’t deserve them. This isn’t an insult or a belittlement of your anguish, (which I know as well as you do) but a simple truth, that, once you accept it, will give you a firm footing from which you can take the steps necessary to build true worth – a worth that is solid and irrefutable and cannot be purchased by spending 4 years snoring in a classroom.