Exit, Exit, Enter

What an undergraduate degree teaches
May 5, 2015, 9:27 pm
Filed under: Misc Thoughts

Most people view educational degrees as this journey towards obtaining some sort of knowledge – to be awarded a Bachelor’s or Master’s is to know and be learned. So, I thought to kick off the reemergence of this blog by reflecting on what my undergraduate degree taught me.** Not what I learned on paper or through tests or theses, but the importance of my degree in developing me into at least a semi-functional, emotionally adequately-stable adult.

My undergraduate degree was in the natural sciences. I say this as broadly as possible because I learned shortly there into a research-based degree that the labelling of a degree, and labelling as a whole really, isn’t really all that useful. Labels are convenient for us to compartmentalize what are in reality complicated and very convoluted issues.  – whether it’s climate change or civil rights, labels can only get you so far. So, my major was in the “natural sciences”.

I learned shortly into my degree how important it was to enroll first as a music education major and then fail – fail really hard. And to fail over and over again at anything and everything. (On a side note, supportive and forgiving parents are of a great benefit to this aimless meandering!)

I’ve always been quite mediocre at a multitude of things – sports, school subjects, whatever. I was an A and B student my whole life (graduated my undergrad magna cum laude), played and sucked at a bunch of sports (but still somehow adopted the persona “athletic” ) and am widely sub-par when it comes to managing finances and any technical skills in my field.

However, I learned that regardless of where you are from, whatever your interests are, whatever your political party or religious view: people are people. And they naturally enjoy diversity. Diversity of opinion. Diversity of ethnicity and experience. We are fickle and love and embrace those that can indulge us in our curiosity. Learning this was really important for me to understand others and why anyone would want to hang out with me.

We all naturally want to know and learn and love and understand things, regardless of our own shortcomings.

Some firsts

  • I voted to decide who would be the President of the United States for the first time (and also voted to decide who would be the county commissioner). I learned that things both big and small are important and can impact things equally so.
  • I dated seriously for the first time and broke up seriously for the first time. I learned what it meant to be utterly convinced of your own opinion, very well knowing that they were utterly convinced of theirs.
  • I failed a course for the first time, and wondered what the hell I was going to do with the rest of my life for the first time.
  • I owned my first car,
    • lost my first best friend,
    • bought my first camera,
    • broke my first camera,
    • got my first credit card,
    • got my first pet(s),
    • got into my first car accident.

There were a lot of inconsequential and consequential firsts, but they all happened.

I made best friends. I lost friends. People I knew were born, people I knew died. I learned about the importance of the dollar and the importance of living. I cried multiple times, I laughed probably too few.

I figured out what I wanted to be and what questions I wanted to answer. I figured out that I’ll never know all of them.

My time as an undergrad contorted me and challenged me. It showed others who I am and who I could be, and it made me ultra aware of tiresome cliches.  And so, my undergrad taught me something that I’ve not quite yet realized, and something yet that I’m not sure I’ll ever know.

What can I learn next?

**Disclaimer: seeing as how I have not yet achieved what I’d consider any appropriate level of success, this may all be moot and I’d have wasted all of your time. At least I learned how to mutter on for a long time and appear learned? These degrees will look great on my wall.

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