Wrong Trail

by Chris de Serres

Life is not what we think it is. If you see how most of us spend our time. What we want right now. It's hard to imagine ourselves as old men and women, looking back over our lives and intuit what had the most meaning. The truth is hidden behind cliche's inherently designed to deceive us. I've heard that it's not the things, but the relationships we make that matter. I know this to be true. It's said so often that it can easily be dismissed. Whatever we are most passionate about in a manner shapes who we are. If we find some way to pursue what we love then it dramatically alters who we are and how we are able to experience life. And life is so simple. It's not as complex as we have to make it.

I read an article today on 20-somethings who have completed advanced degrees and have to toil in job's well below their education level. It is a reflection on how poorly off our economy is. Yet there's that old cliche that nothing is guaranteed. A piece of paper is just that. What gets you the job is the brilliant and creative person that you are. Not a prepackaged and prepared interview question answering machine. You have a degree and you are struggling to break through the door. Six figures and the key to the BMW aren't waiting for you at the end of the college road. The problem is in the expectation. We expect these things after college because that's what we are told to expect. We aren't told to expect to have to fight to get what we want. We all got trophies in the grade-school soccer tournament, even the losers. We are all supposed to get something right?

We aren't educated on how to create a life. We aren't told to pursue our passions. Getting the six figures is every bit as empty as not getting it because it's just money. What about what you want to do in life? If you really want to do what it says on that college degree then you will be compelled to find a way. Not sit back and bemoan the lack of offers and competitiveness. It's time to kill this notion about what lays ahead after college.

This is what I think about as I consider going back to school. It's got to be clear in my mind what I want to get out of it. It wasn't in undergrad. If it doesn't lead to what I am passionate about why waste another 3-4 years of my life doing that? I could be helping my wife grow her business. It'll allow me more time to spend with my daughter. More flexibility to climb, which I am passionate about. Financial freedom which allows us to travel and experience new cultures and landscapes. The alternative is to find myself deep in debt, with a degree in something that has a competitive job market and poor projected income levels. I'm not even sure if counseling is something I will truly enjoy. I have to be two years into the program before I can work one-on-one with clients, which is sort of the make or break moment on figuring out if it's something that I would be passionate in doing. By that time I would be committed, whether I loved it or not.

There are so many things that I love but have no graduate school for. There is no established path to writing or rock climbing. That's the problem with us all. We narrow ourselves to the path. We can't even see what's just outside of the path. Making a path is the scariest thing in the world to us. Going to school is not nearly as risky as not going to school and seeing what you can do with what you currently love. Only now there are no paydays on graduation day. So you get the degree and you aren't any better for it. So you're pissed that this is doing nothing for you. Then the New York Times writes an article about how people like you aren't getting your paydays. There's a better way.

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