While reflecting upon what I was going tackle this week, it hit me that this is probably the last editorial of my university career.
That’s right, at the end of this year I will say goodbye to these comfortable concrete walls, and head out into the scary world of real life and big girl jobs. And change is scary.
High school started this idea, and now university has confirmed it, but four years is just enough time so that whatever your doing seems like it will last forever – even if, while you’re doing it, you know that’s not true.
So, while I have become an expert at being a student and sucky at being a real person, I’ve decided to take this final opportunity to give some pearls of wisdom I’ve learned in my time, while I still can feel like I know what I’m talking about.
First, nobody cares about you or what you’re doing. I came from a small town, where everyone knew everything that happened to everyone else. Did you puke at a party once? Enjoy the new nickname “Spew Queen” on Monday. Date someone you’re not proud of? Too bad, not only will you see them in every one of your classes, everyone you know will make fun of you when they see him.
The thing about moving away was this sudden feeling of anonymity. Anything I did wasn’t worth anyone’s time to gossip about. And why would it be? Who was I except a typical first year?
The strange thing was that I went in the opposite direction from what one would expect under these circumstances. I cut back my partying, became a homebody, and got a kitty. I suppose, in high school, I felt like I had to go to every party or people might think I was boring or, worse yet, not invited. But I don’t think I enjoyed half of them. Mostly because I couldn’t stand some of the people I was there with – which brings me to my next lesson. When it comes to friendship, quality outweighs quantity.
It took me over two decades to find, approximately, five people I can stand. And one of them is the cat I mentioned before, and I had to buy him. I call him a person because, well, I have my suspicions.
I’m not as friendly as I thought I was in high school. Well into my late teens, I counted my happiness by how many people came to my birthday. Now, if half those people were there, I’d probably leave early. I’d probably leave early anyway – I have a Beautyrest mattress – but even moreso.
It takes a while to realize you are just not going to be compatible with everyone. Even fewer people are going to be those friends you feel legitimately bad bitching about behind their back. Those are the money friends.
Going to those high school parties and, later, to the bar always sounds like a fun, sexy idea. But the truth is, I had far more fun when I was having pre-drinks at a friend’s house. A lot of times it would have been better to not mess up a good thing and just stay there.
Thirdly, somewhere, someone just as talented as you is working twice as hard.
In all my adolescent – and, to be quite honest, early university – bravado, I believed I was something really special. I thought I was smart and talented in a way that would, of course, get a job handed to me on that basis alone.
I’ve done well in university, but I’m not that person who broke that 90 per cent barrier. And while I think I have some talent for reporting and writing, I look around at my peers and realize that talent isn’t something that makes you different – it just starts you at par.
In my college, I’m constantly a complainy-pants about how busy I am. The thing is, if I stopped, I know I would immediately sink to the bottom. The person next to you is working hard, and the person next to them is working harder because they see how hard the first person is working. And everyone is annoyed at that slacker spouting, “C’s get degrees.” Hate that guy.
It’s a privilege to get to learn. And its privilege to get to do a job that actually interests you, a career. And that privilege demands a certain amount of respect. There are a billion people in the world; do you really believe you’re the one special enough just to coast?
Having said that, do what you love, not just for work.
When I started university, I had a moment. “It’s time to put away your childish things, Kim. You must grow up.”
I quit writing, quit reading for fun, and basically shut the door on a lot of what made me who I was because they seemed like a waste of time. I needed to be getting a job, not be keeping my head in childish endeavors.
I started university with the full intent of becoming a social worker, like my parents.
Now, there’s nothing wrong with social work, but don’t kid yourself. It’s a hard career to follow, and there are only select types of people who can do it. Take for instance my mom. My mom hasn’t bought herself anything new since her kids were born. Even now, with both her kids out of the house and moving into full time work, she is still wary about spending anything on herself, for fear my sister or I might suddenly want something and she will be unable to provide it.
She’s the type, as one Simpsons quote puts it, who’d, “instead of swatting a fly, give it a bath and send it on its way.”
Yet, I know some days she dealt with terrible things. Things you’d expect a tender spirit like that to be crushed under. But she kept going back because she needed to help.
I am not as tender.
I live in a fantasy world most of the time – I love to create. That’s me.
But I wasted a lot of time trying to ignore who I was because you couldn’t get a job writing. It was only when I started slowly bringing back those things that I found the career, and college, that I now couldn’t picture my life without. Which brings me to my final point this year:
Some will have a plan as soon as they show up. Some need the four years to find out who they really are.