This site gets the majority of its views from all of the jaded 20-somethings out there looking for where we’re even supposed to go next. We’re surrounded by all of these success stories of our peers and that becomes what our parents, our friends, and society starts to expect from us. On the other hand there’s all of those articles chastising “millennials” and other cute little buzzwords they’ve created to describe us. We feel the pressure to be unique yet successful in other words to be impressive.
We are propelled by this need to prove those old fogies at Time and our parents wrong. Somehow we will be millionaires someday, we are just “trying to find ourselves” at the moment. But there isn’t room for everyone to be a Lena Dunham, or Zuckerberg or Evan Spiegel or any other outliers of massive success. So what happens to everyone else? What about the millions of kids trying to measure up?
The ones who go to a mid-level university, we see those nerds from high school who went to Harvard and graduated Cum Laude, and they are working at Starbucks. If THEY cannot continue their level of success that has been working for them their entire lives, what in the fuck does that mean for the rest of us?
Getting a degree in English, or Psychology, or whatever is old hat, it’s done; we will compete with millions of our peers with those degrees for only a limited amount of jobs. So here I am a Senior in College knowing that people will make fun of my useless degree in English. Even better, I will have a degree in Literary Studies with a concentration in poetry. I have grown up admiring billionaires and scheming to be one. Writing will not make me a fucking billionaire. I do not have a universal story of good and evil told through a boy wizard hanging out in the recesses of my brain. So what am I supposed to do with my life?
I have been thinking about it for about ten plus years and I still have no idea. I was never the kid who decided at age 8 what they really wanted to do and then ends up becoming a success story for the masses. I love everything, I am interested in the world I am good at a lot of things but never great. I have never been a straight A student because I cannot relate to the method of schooling, yet I feel as if I have to be an eternal student to stay afloat in this economy. Just a high school degree won’t cut it, I feel like a Bachelor’s Degree alone will not cut it anymore. Being raised somewhere that high level DC professionals who work for the government go to raise their perfect children does not make this pressure any less prevalent in my mind.
In some parts of the country the fact that I am in college and am not a 20-year-old mother could be seen as remarkable. In the rest of the world that is an incomprehensible thing to billions of people. So why am I pressuring myself so much? Why do I want to be seen as the academic in god knows what? Just to impress people? What in the fuck is that doing for ME? Do I really want to do all of this? I want to be taken seriously 20 or so years from now, I want to lead myself into a career that is also impressive but what really truly is an impressive career? Most people just want to make money to stay afloat and not go into debt, but I want respect, I want to matter, I want to feel impressive too. I want to have beautiful things, to feel power, to work my ass off, more than I want love or other types of fulfillment, but how do I even get there? I wonder about it constantly, and look at where I am now and feel frustration and even more lost than before.
I worry about any infamy I have received from my writing and how it will affect me. I’m the only person from my graduating class who has done anything of note (not that it’s exactly admirable to have a front page cover of the Post), but it’s still not impressive enough. It doesn’t matter that people in Puerto Rico or Ecuador know my name, I don’t go to Harvard, and I’m not a 21-year-old app tycoon. I didn’t capitalize on my few minutes of attention because I thought that maybe one day I wanted to be a real person. But what even is a real person?
Throughout my life I have had many conversations with those stereotyped as smart only because of measuring their grades and I facepalm at their idiocy. I have graded papers of people who had 4.0 GPAs in high school and they can’t use “your” and “you’re” correctly. Honestly they would be the ones graduating “cum laude” without even knowing what that means. I have had conversations with friends who received terrible grades about art, and life, and suffering and other beautiful deep things. And we give more weight to the opinions of people with high grades in high school.
I guess I am so bitter because of the lack of respect that I am given from modern society because of not attending a top tier school. It was a trivia question in the Village Voice of where I went to school, and I could tell that they were mocking me because I didn’t go to NYU, Columbia, or the Cooper Union, but the New School. I’ve taken three classes at NYU which all were much easier to coast through than at my school where there are sometimes only five people in a class. I then get angry at my parents for letting me suffer years of schooling at a disadvantage to everyone else, being miles smarter than everyone but being unable to turn in work on time or do mindless tasks.
Success in school is not based on intelligence but on the ability to focus obsessively on stupid tasks and concepts. There are some essential things you need to know; but the majority of it is mindless. To this day I am still not that great at doing schoolwork and plan to keep myself doing mindless work to seem impressive, to feel as if I am equal to everyone else. To overtake those kids in high school who thought I was dumb because I wasn’t in all AP classes (not my fault, my parents refused to let me take more than one a year). So what am I even ranting about at this point? I still have no idea where I am going with my life, and maybe we should all accept that this is OK.