There’s a mentality in the academia world that says you should be willing to ‘do everything it takes’ and to ‘sacrifice it all’ to become who you want to be. These messages promote hard work and commitment as the way to achieve your dreams, but in practice we see that message going a bit awry. On University campuses around the world, students are hustling to get through their degrees– and they’re running themselves into the ground to do it.
I could blame the curriculum, capitalism and the millennial generation but the reality is that students choose their own course load. And from what I have experienced, the idea is to try and do as many classes as possible in a semester, even if it means bleeding out of your eyes and crying yourself to sleep every night. You make up for healthy social lives with blackout drunk weekends, sleep with caffeine and Adderall, and self fulfilled direction in life with government approved validation. Instead of finding commitment and true passion in students we see anxiety stricken stares of bewildered youths who are in way over their heads. I add myself to this list.
I attended a rigorous program at Capilano University in North Vancouver. Over the three years of attending school in Vancouver I can count on my hands the number of times I went out to experience the city. I was taking between 6 and 8 classes a semester spending 50-60 hours a week at the school. My only goal was to get through school so I could go out and start making a name for myself. This works in theory because the sooner you are out of school the sooner that Mark Zuckerberg can discover you. The problem is Mark Zuckerberg doesn’t give a sh*t about all the classes you just took.
Essentially I graduated from University (in record time) with a bachelor’s degree in nothing and the emotional depth of a petri dish. I had no real interests I could remember other than what I had abandoned when I decided to go to school 4 years earlier. The truth is, I was too busy getting a degree I thought would define me as a person. I missed out on the fact that University should be the place where you discover who you are as a person, not what you do for work.
Now I am here at UVic like a reformed drug addict telling all his friends he found Jesus. I’m taking FOUR classes a semester, I dropped my summer job, and I go to the movies on cheap night. I focus less on the final step of my 5-year plan and more on my 25 steps getting to the bus stop from my apartment. This is the way my life should be: I have time to party responsibly, I can binge watch Netflix one or two nights a week and not feel terrible about it, and I can do my best work on the assignments that I have due.
My point is that these motivational slogans shared by Instagram celebrities translate rather poorly onto the general public. These bold font inspirational ideologies suggest that people should already know what to do with their life, as if deciding your life’s purpose through a course description is the easy step. There is already so much anxiety around “what you’re going to do for the rest of your life” yet even if you are gifted enough to know what it is you want to do, you have to do it quickly?
I’m not saying that University is bad, I’m saying that people are doing it wrong. I think stress and being challenged to manage your life in a professional environment is crucial to becoming a functioning human being. However, after all the knowledge you gained and skills you learned are stripped away, you are left with 4 or 5 years of your sexiest, healthiest, most-able-to-recover-from-a-hangover years of your life. They should be some good ones.