As a soon to be college graduate, it’s expected that I be filled with the excitement of the unknown, possibly even the fear of the unknown. Truth be told, I haven’t been feeling either one of those emotions. As I imagine myself walking up on the stage and moving my tassel from one side to the next, I feel dread. I’m proud of myself, but not because I am graduating. Despite countless hours of analyzing case studies, editing papers, and scouring library’s worth of knowledge, I don’t feel like I learned anything particularly enlightening. I haven’t grown in any type of factual knowledge.
What I have learned is more centered on how the world works; and I’ve learned that it is a mess.
I used to have this theory that the world had some type of order to it, that people knew what they were doing most of the time. I used to think that people at some base level are all trying to make the world a better place. I can now tell you with certainty at the ripe old age of 28, that the world does not give a f*ck. No one cares that you are a good person at heart. People look at you and wonder what you can do for them. Your ability to function in a work environment, or even get hired into one, is based on your ability to manipulate the way people see you.
That’s not what they teach you in high school or college, and why not? In all honesty, those catty high school girls that used to exclude you, make fun of you, or just ignore you all together, they were the ones actually preparing you for the real world; because they are the real world. Those same high school girls giving you the up and down are still doing it, but now it’s at a job interview.
I’d like to deliver some more bad news. High school never ends.
You might be open minded and willing to grow and experience new perspectives, but the majority of assholes out there are not trying to learn how to be better people. They are trying to figure out how to do the least amount of work, for the most pay, while managing a minimal possibility of risk that they could lose the relative comfort they now enjoy.
So what do you do? Well, there are two clear choices.
One, learn to assimilate to this tragic dynamic that a capitalistic society such as America has bred; or two, refuse to compromise your integrity and wander the earth in penniless misery until you maybe, if you’re lucky, fall into something that doesn’t suck all the time. The second option takes a much longer time, possibly your whole life. The first option however quickly carves a hole in your heart so deep that it will drain your soul until you’re nothing but a dry husk. You will look in the mirror and be but a faint memory of the once vibrant and optimistic individual you currently are.
Much like the election coming up in November, your future career, degree in hand, will all be about deciding between two types of poison. One that is less likely to make you throw up, and one that is less likely to make you shit your pants. If you’re lucky, you won’t choose the one that makes both happen at the same time.
With that I’ll leave you with a quote from your keynote speaker, Mr. Bukowski:
“I’d decided the campus was just a place to hide. There were some campus freaks who stayed on forever. The whole college scene was soft. They never told you what to expect out there in the real world. They just crammed you with theory and never told you how hard the pavements were. A college education could destroy an individual for life. Books could make you soft. When you put them down, and really went out there, then you needed to know what they never told you.”
Congratulations class of 2016, and good luck. You’ll need it.