This post is part of Linda G Hill’s “Stream of Consciousness Saturday”
If I could do anything in the world that I wanted, I think I would collect degrees. I love school! Well, in any case I love learning. I didn’t always love school, not when I was a pudgy, shy, geeky, socially inept girl surrounded by “cool” kids who made me feel bad about myself. Yep, that would be junior high and high school.
But I loved college. Not because I was less geeky, shy, or socially inept, but because I changed the “feel bad about myself” part of the whole thing. I found a “niche” full of other geeky, shy, socially inept people who weren’t ashamed of that, and enjoyed being who they were. To a certain extent, I was part of that group in High School as well, but there, I still found too much pressure to “measure up” to the “cool” kids. Well, maybe not “pressure” exactly, but at least a desire. An idea that the pretty cheerleader who was also class president and prom queen was somehow better than me, and that to have her life would be the ultimate degree of happiness.
When I left for college, I found that “geeks” were respected there, that it was cool to be smart, to have odd talents, and that for whatever reason (at least at my liberal arts school) Barbie cheerleader and her posse were no longer the center of attention. In fact, I didn’t really see them! Had they grown up and decided to become students? Had they just stayed behind in the various hometowns and married the prom kings and become committee members and maybe moms? I don’t know. What I do know is, I loved the college environment.
The goal, of course, was to earn a degree, hopefully one that would aid in having a career. Yes, a career, because anyone can get a job. A job is mundane, but a career…well that is a more exalted degree of working! As a proud member of Generation “X”, I value “quality of life” over “climbing the corporate ladder.” I want to love what I do! Maybe in this country that is more important than in other places, because in America, we tend to “live to work” rather than the other way around. (Like I saw in Europe, for example) So if that is the case, it becomes more important to love one’s job. I wonder if that’s why people, especially Gen-Xers, change careers more often than in my parents day?
As for me, I got a degree in Music Education. What has that got to do with jet-flying? Nothing! Yes, I tried teaching music in the public school system. I just didn’t have the passion for it. My opinion is that in order to be excellent at something, you must have enough passion to be able to ignore all the BS that comes with it. In the school system, I couldn’t get past the political garbage enough to be excellent at teaching. So I ultimately found a job where I can put up with the flaws (and there are *soooo* many) and still enjoy the work.
But do I regret my degree? Not at all. I learned a lot about teaching, which served me well as a flight instructor, and which still serves me well as a student. Would I change my course of study if I could go back? Maybe. Maybe I would get a degree in Music Performance, try to get into a conservatory, but would that have made me happier? I’m not sure. I actually started out as an English major, thinking I might become a professor of literature or something, but I was seduced by the music department at my school and changed majors during my second year. Would I like a degree in literature? Or writing? Or would I like to study semantics or some other word-y thing? Yes, I think so.
If I could go back to school today, I might try to get a degree in French…something, I don’t know, anything that would allow me to go live in France for a while and study there. I’d love to have a job where I was required to know the French language. Of course, I’d need many more years of study before I’d fit *that* description, but as long as I’m dreaming…
They say that making your favorite activity into a job is a bad idea, because you’ll stop loving it when you have to do it for a living wage. Maybe that’s a little bit true. Do I still love flying? Absolutely! Is is “just a job?” Maybe, but it’s a pretty cool job. And I don’t even have a degree in it.