College was a necessary evil. Between my internship, my job, and the remains of my social life, I really didn’t think knowing the “History of Media” or “Cultural Foundations” was that important.
But I studied nonetheless, and made a big deal about exams. I would take my 10 lbs. psychology book to work with me, and highlight things during the slow times at the store. I would make flash cards in the subway on my way to the internship, and when I got home I would re-write essays that weren’t due for another three weeks. There was no way around it. The competetiveness at school was seeping into my veins, and if I got a bad grade I would start hyperventilating in fear of it ruining my GPA. Not that it was that great anyway. It seemed like all that work was barely keeping me above a 3.0, but that’s all I needed to list on my resume. I told everybody that once I graduate, I will never go back to school. A 9-5 job seemed like a vacation to me after all those years of balancing so many things.
I graduated a semester early, and instead of taking the time off to explore what I was really wanted to pursue for the rest of my life, I charged head first into my first real job. I don’t regret anything, that’s not my style, but I have learned a lot through my actions.
I realized the more choices I made, the less options were left over. Once I decided that publicity was the direction I wanted to go, I blocked out any possibilities of becoming a teacher, for instance, or a rock star. By not taking any time off then, I ruined it for the years to come, because you can’t “find yourself” when you’re 26. By that time, you should have gotten it out of your system.
And then there’s the agony of paying rent. And bills. And when you accept your first job you see this big figure that you’ll be earning, but when your first paycheck comes you realize how much you are a citizen of this country, and what “Social Security” really means. Suddenly, you can’t splurge on all those shows as often as you used to.
But other things have become more clear to me. I love the publishing industry. Finally a place where I can admit to my inner nerd! All these years I had been reading books on the DL, not being able to talk to my friends about the literature we encountered for fear of sounding to arrogant, or worse, smart. And the best thing about working is that at the end of the day, you go home and don’t have to worry about highlighting, or flash cards, or exams. The things I do after work are the things I want to do, and doing so makes me a happier person.
I wouldn’t want to go back to my time in college, but sometimes I wish I had paid more attention in classes, because I will never again have the option to do so. I was lucky to choose a major that I liked, not because I had to prepare for the rest of my life. Face it: nobody cared what you studied. It’s just about whether you did at all. Eventually I might take an Italian class, or a silk screening workshop, but never again will I have the pressure of making the grade. Which has good points and bad points. But I never let school interfere with my education, and a real education takes a lifetime.