Thoughts On Graduate School

The concept of graduate school always makes me heated.  Anytime somebody brings it up in conversation I almost always find myself immersed in a passionate debate.  Despite my own insecure feelings about my own future at times, I think it just ticks me off because so I see so many people wasting their time with it.  Graduate school seems to have become a plan B for those who find themselves on a dead end street; It’s become a failsafe for a twenty-something who finds him/herself stuck in a directionless life.  But why has it become a failsafe? It didn’t always used to be that way.  Welcome to the 21st century, where graduate school has transformed from a place of high, scholarly pursuits to a cop out; A place to waste more time, borrow more loans with high interest rates while falling further into debt, spend three paychecks on books you’ll sell back for 25 cents each, and to sit in a classroom like you’ve been doing your whole goddamn life so you can get another overpriced, shiny piece of paper with a stamp, a seal, and some signatures.  What bullshit.

Now if you are going to grad school for something you love, something you believe in and are passionate about, my little blog post does not not apply to you.  …And if you fully believe in your quest for knowledge for whatever field you’re in, you should know that and know that my words are not speaking to you in the least.  Grad school can be GREAT when you know you’re on your path.  In fact I encourage you to pursue your bliss and reach for the stars!  Enjoy, soak up that knowledge like a sponge, and come out of there as a PRO.

The thing is higher education in general has gone to the dogs.  Probably because it has become the societal norm to attend college.  There are too many people enrolled in colleges and universities who frankly don’t belong there and classroom environments suffer because of it.  Aside from the fact that no one can live on minimum wage, it’s extremely difficult to accomplish anything in life without a college degree…or so we’re told.  The drop out geniuses do show themselves and the fruits of labor every once in awhile (i.e. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, etc).  College can prove to be a great experience but in all honesty, not all minds are wired to march to the beat of the intellectual drum.  Many do not do well within an academic context.  And that’s OKAY.  Or at least it should be.  Yet why does society say otherwise?  Don’t have enough money?  “Here, take out $30,000+ loan per year with 7%+ interest for 4 years.  Don’t worry.  That job you’ll get or that thing you’ll invent while you’re smoking hash in your garage will get you so filthy rich, they’ll be wheelbarrowing your money to your front door.  You’ll pay that off in no time.  You’re a smart kid.”  Don’t have a computer or books?  “Use your loan to pay for it.  Yeah, don’t worry about it.  By the time you have to make payments you’ll be working at some corporate office counting your stacks like Scrooge in A Christmas Carol.”  Scholarships?  “What’s that?  Didn’t hear you.” THIS IS THE SYSTEM WE NOW LIVE IN. WHY?  We all know how ridiculous this sounds and I know many have experienced this first hand.  These are things I’ve witnessed are within an undergraduate context; Why on Earth would anyone subject themselves to this again?  We all know that for the most part the jobs aren’t there (unless you’re willing to sell your soul to some ungodly field in pursuit of a dollar), loan debt is a problem and then falls into a catch 22 in the “funemployment” world where you have $0 income, and scholarships (for the most part) are wasted on the dropouts and the ones who don’t care and drink their weight in tequila every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday of their 4 year (or 5 year if their a supersenior) college career and end up looking like Mrs. Puff by the time they graduate.

The more I read, the more it appears that in the past college used to be a big deal; It was a way to heighten your intellect, learn, and go back into the world with your knowledge and put it to good use; And maybe if you’re really good, help make the world a better place.  I am ashamed of my generation because college is now an excuse to get away from Mommy and Daddy to obsess over Facebook and your iPhone, excessively drink, and sleep around with anyone who has a pair of legs. It makes me laugh though because all these Mrs. Puff lookalikes passed and got their diplomas just like I did.  At first that bothered me because I worked hard in school.  I always have and I don’t care how nerdy that makes me sound, but it’s true.  But then I reinforced the thought I’ve always had since high school that grades really don’t matter.  GPAs really don’t matter.  It’s what you get out of the experience what counts and that alone shapes who you become as a individual.  It’s what you can take with what you’ve learned and how you’ve learned it and apply it to your future, whether you’re employed or not.  I live in a materialist generation where everyone cares about the wrong things.  I wish I could persuade everyone to disconnect from their devices and put down their credit cards and persuade them to read again, things they’ve always wanted to read, philosophize and think and dream, to talk about art and music that’s not on the radio.  Maybe that’s my utopia or something.  But life’s too short to keep partying like you’re 18.  Life’s too short to keep playing Candy Crush and post Facebook statuses for attention.  Do something, make something, create something, teach yourself something.  Engage in conversation that’s not gossip.  What about Life?  You’re living in right now and you don’t even know it.  Put down the phone and marvel in the world before you have back problems and become bedridden.  Take care of yourself and stop destroying your body so you don’t die later on down the road when you finally decide that life means something to you.  By numbing yourself with technology and bullshit you are committing an act of the slowest suicide.

Graduate school will not fill your void but will only delay the inevitable.  Once you’ve achieved all you possibly can within an academic spectrum, you will realize the worst thing of all – That you have missed Life.  And you will realize all the things you made time for and thought were important only caused you anxiety, frustration, debt, and grey hair.  Then you will slowly fall into yourself and realize you don’t know who you are, who your friends are, what you’re doing here, and the job (if you end up finding one) you swore would provide everything for you and be the answer to all your problems, you will realize that that job is not enough.  And you will be older and feel the weight of time tightening its grip around your throat.

Now more than ever is the time to self-discover, read, and be alone for awhile.  To hell with the system we live in. Let us meditate on ourselves, learn as much as we can (without the burden of papers and tests), and shape the future to display positivity, togetherness, and love.  Those three things unite like no other.  Enough of chasing the broken American Dream that died with Gatsby, enough with ignoring our loved ones, enough with staying inside when the sky is so blue.  Let’s breathe and ask ourselves what our soul is really yearning for.  Let’s not suppress it with empty promises and the hollow shell of graduate school.

Post-Grad Psychotherapy

Does the word “frustration” even begin to cover it? C’mon. I know you’re all with me here.  As the day darkens the pressures and anxiety completely overcome you, squashing you, leaving you in some peculiar claustrophobic headspace.

A job seems so daunting because that’s the springboard into the rest of you life, you know?  That’s the springboard into your future and how terrifying!  How terrifying it is that for a quarter of your life, it all adds up to this.  This is what you’ve worked for:  The sweat, blood, and tears, the sleepless nights and caffeine overdoses. Late nights into early mornings, fleeting friends, the social highs and lows that accompany a young adolescent life.  We’re carted and compacted into an academic system and we’re supposed to come out of our respective institutions like some factory assembled windup toy, walking at an even pace with a frozen smile painted on our lips, waiting for someone else to wind us back up when we run out of gas.  We spend the better half of our lives as a sponge, soaking up as much as we can before someone squeezes us out, takes us for all we got and then leaves us to dry in the summer sun.

What am I supposed to do with myself now? How am I supposed to act? What can I do? What can I do well?  What do you want?  What do you want from me?  Are you really interested in me? Or should I be predicting some ulterior motive? You’re gonna use me, aren’t you? Why should I trust you if you’re just gonna use me? Well, I’m nobody’s doormat.  I can be myself but you’re not gonna like it, you’re not gonna get it – at least not right away.  And that’s the kicker, isn’t it?  Everything takes time.  And it just makes me laugh because time doesn’t really exist.  It’s a human organizational construct, like mostly everything else we perceive I guess.

Don’t worry.  I’m just losing my mind a little bit.  But you probably are too.  We all are.  You just have to look inside yourself to see the fracture.  And it’s okay.  It’s all gonna be okay somehow.  Because like Joseph Campbell says, we have to “joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world”, right?  Gotta say yes to it, even when it hurts.  And I’m trying.  But it gets hard sometimes when you’re just floating.  Ambivalent to everything, indifferent to everyone.  See, I’ve always been resistant but it hits you so much harder when you don’t know where to go.  It’s like my soul is vibrating so fast because it doesn’t know what direction to turn.

What got me on this spiral in the first place was the realization of my need to go to shows to see bands that really matter to me; Bands that are my main source of inspiration and means of survival; They give me a reason to live, you know?  But tickets cost money and the limited funds in my checking account won’t last me forever.  I know that.  So cue my begrudging admittance to the system, my reason to conform to the capitalist culture…It just sucks that at the end of the day, we’re all slaves to a goddamn piece of paper.  I think that’s the main concept I constantly struggle with.