So there it is. I just graduated and am the
scared proud owner of a bachelor. A bachelor in psychology that I earned through one blissful year abroad in Germany and two challenging years of university in Quebec, where my life looked like a crazy exhausting contest that would have been called:
The hundred thousand ways
to prove you have the best file to pursue an higher education degree
”Dear contestant, the game is cruel but the rules of The hundred thousand ways are simple. Education nowadays requires you to be outstanding in your extracurricular activities and since everyone is equally intelligent and good at university because of a high consumption of coffee, few hours of sleep, and standardized tests that only require you to learn everything by heart, we will expect from you nothing but the highest achievements, in order to prove you deserve to win. Among others you will be required to:
Fight a lion
Complete 30 000 days of volunteering for a really caring organisation
In a journal and during 4 months, record nights of sleep lasting less than 3 hours
Rescue a baby dolphin
In your free time, show you are working on a project to cure cancer
Have at least 7 hobbies that are unique (10% or less of the population have them)
Have completed an internship in three third world countries in your free time
Having maintained the highest grades possible all throughout your studies
Among others, having a strong interest for molecular cooking
After showing proof of your social engagement, you will be asked to send proof of your close implication with 11 teachers that will assess they personally know you
even though they have 600 students . In the end, after quickly revising your file and checking the list of items you completed, you might be asked for an interview.”
And the winner of The hundred thousand ways is………….(drum roll)………..
The one that is still breathing
Honestly, being a student in psychology heading toward the master in Speech language pathology felt like an insane contest to prove I was worth something and mostly, that I was so truly passionate about something I could only know so few about. So there I was, assisting in a speech language pathology clinic printing and cutting children’s game cards,
which artistic skill is obviously showing my interest for the career, being a model for a faculty fashion show to prove i am socially invested in my bachelor, being head of the communication for my dance group to prove i can be organised within a student organisation, dancing in the said group two hours a week to prove I have hobbies, working in a community center, being a Verbatim assistant for a psychology laboratory and translating interviews to prove with a teacher’s signature that I care; to prove that I am a really committed student or perhaps that I am so fast at typing words and words in a Word document …
And when doubting my choice, I would spend hours on the internet, trying to find a new master to reach for, a new answer to give, a new title to display on my forehead and mostly, a new place to fit in; because we have to. Or do we?
While I was wondering I would continue to do many other extracurricular activities,
to prove that I am unique and special and that yes I study really hard but i cut on my sleep to find time to do all the rest and all the rest……
To prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, To prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, To prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, to prove, but to whom?
Because really, what does all these altruistic and volunteering in community center and hours spent to plan a trip to Africa really means, when everyone does it just because; when they accept to take you because you need this experience more than your other fellow students; when you managed to collect signatures from teachers because you spent hours to prove you were worth as a student assistant. A black and white statement of your worth displayed in many many emails and appointments where you were
faking to be so enthusiastic to assist them collecting datas in a boring excel file .
How can true altruism, care and passion exist when you really have no freedom to be true to yourself? How can we be, when higher education only gives access to people whom were strong enough to stick to a premade collection of socially engaged actions and to ultimately prove that they would fit in the box and do all that is required to have a curriculum vitae that show how worth of a person they are?
So that they can be worth to access higher education
Don’t get me wrong, a lot of students are truly and genuinely engaged in their community and do outstanding projects. Although, I have seen so many people getting caught in the swirl of education and in this contest that brings, as any contest might bring,
Stress, stress, envy, discouragement, frustration, forced happiness, competition, stress, stress, stress…
And among that, people get lost. People get lost in between all this premade kindness and all this pressure of proving you are worth something and genuinely passionate about something you are not really. In a society where high education is so rewarding and well perceived, people get lost between their actual interest for something and a game they get caught in. And when you commit so many hours in building a C.V that is worth, it gets even harder to be true to yourself because you need to justify all this work.
How many times have I heard someone saying they liked their studies when they didn’t really? How many times did I do it myself?
Why do we force kindness upon people? Why do university make people believe they care about certain things? Why do we have to prove we found a way to stretch time by doing so much more than a healthy balance life would suggest? Why do we force ourselves to all complete this contest of requirements? Is life really a contest? How can we really be passionate about something, when half of it is made of trims and frills?
I don’t have the power to change the way universities work nowadays, although collectively, we can ask questions and try to find a way to stay true to ourselves and avoid getting lost in a promise of worth to the world.
My way to be true to myself was to realise all of this wasn’t real for me and the goal wasn’t meaningful enough to pursue the road. So I headed for a year abroad and changed direction completely. But there is one thing I am sure of;
The future hope for happiness is never worth compromising today’s happiness.
In fact, we are conditioned to always make decisions ten years ahead; know what we will be, who we will be, what we will like, what will make us happy, what we will want, what we will see. And therefore when deciding for education, we usually choose something that we will like eventually, that we are curious about enough to hang on the hope of a future passion to develop and we hold onto an idea of security, stability and worth of being.
We hold until our hands bleed from holding so tight something we really never can get a hold on
Because we never can predict what we will be or what we will like in ten years. It is so egocentrical of us, humans, to believe that we have this power of knowing all. But if we matter to ourselves, we have to stop making decisions in the name of our future self. We have to agree to make decisions for the self we are now. The self that likes social science, that likes science, that likes art, that likes fashion, that likes reading, that likes writing, that doesn’t like school, that likes flowers and food; the self that is someone that is worth today and that will do something that he really cares about now.
Not studying something to become a dentist, to become a Lawyer, to become a painter, to become a researcher, to become someone that has things and possess worth; a worth that has been earned through a piece of paper and the contest of who fights a lion better.
Because choosing in order to become never should be an option; because choosing in order to become leads to false justification, false happiness and false passions.
Why are we so scared to change our mind? Why are we so scared to do what we truly care about now even when we don’t know what is next? Why are we so scared to make new decision as life goes instead of making decision to hold on a future that can’t be grasped yet? Why do we care so much about who we will be that we forget who we are?
Who we are
There is no way to understand how you got somewhere until you get there, look back and laugh at the journey. Because there it is; the journey matters more than the destination. And the only way to be the one still breathing at the end of The hundred thousand ways is to always make sure the journey also as a meaning and that you are true to yourself while you are being.
By making sure you are doing something for yourself and not your future self and by accepting that you can make new decisions just as life goes, you claim your power back and fight that lion! It is not being dumb and unconscious; it is not being uncaring about responsibilities or being naive; it’s about keeping in mind a direction without cultivating a mean and making sure that the goal is always worth the journey. Because there will be downsides to any studies, but being true to what you really are will make it easier to ride the waves.
Let’s be a society that is instead of a society that will be.