In addition to learning the rigors of working full time (not that bad at all) and quite a bit about marketing for the theatre, I’ve picked up some other, more miscellaneous knowledge. More than I ever wanted to know about placentas, for one, while ripping apart a book on reproductive anatomy to be used for our next set. Quite a bit about curling, which I now really want to try. I catch a lot more references, thanks to some must-see Youtube videos and several colorful Urban Dictionary entries. While some of the things I’ve learned here are more applicable to life than others, the sum total of the experience so far has been proof of the idea that the more you know, the more you realize you don’t know.
I spent a year and a half in college before I declared my major. Entering Duke, I thought I was certain of what I wanted: History and Theater double majors. Zero for two: I realized after just one semester that History might kill me with the weight of the textbooks alone, let alone their content; I gave up on the idea of Theater after one year. After flirtations with Psychology (the major that leads to the lowest salaries of all Duke majors, apparently), Sociology (what is Sociology, anyway?), Cultural Anthropology (which I’m pretty sure is the same as Sociology), French (parlez-vous inutilisable?) and Computer Science (what?) I settled on Literature, with a Markets and Management Certificate and Women’s Studies Minor. Three days later I changed my major to English, which it turns out is different.
In the end, though, I was less excited to finally be on a clear track toward graduation: I realized how many classes I wouldn’t be able to take, how many things I would graduate still not knowing. And meanwhile, I’ve been known very occasionally, actually hardly ever, like maybe just three or four times a week, to zone out during class and just spend a few minutes taking in the strange way the professor’s nasal voice bounces off the walls of the lecture hall. To think that this is high education, that somehow this is worth as much per semester as a new car with leather seats, has seemed laughable at times. But it isn’t just about the eighty minutes of class time, I know: it’s also about being on campus, being around other students, napping between classes, joining clubs, and even, lord help me, the frat parties. It all combines to create an experience which, I suppose (and hope), is more of an education than what I got out of Introductory Chemistry. I just wish we were graded on that instead.
Embarrassingly, I had never considered that college wasn’t the be-all and end-all of my education, and that working in itself might contribute many years after I get my diploma. It’s not just on-the-job skills that I’ve picked up so far, it’s an overall savoir-faire that relates to what I do after work, what I’ll do when school and extracurriculars start again, and how I’ll experience my job in the future, whatever that may be. Success has always seemed very far off, a product of promotions and raises and enough grad school to pay for a fleet of new cars, but lately I’ve been feeling strangely accomplished. Everything I’ve learned since sixth grade has proven itself useless this summer, but what I do here has been challenging. It’s been more difficult than I ever would’ve expected to just interact with my co-workers normally, i.e. showing my personality rather than just going into my obedient puppy mode, which is evidently the unflattering default. Formatting a blog post may seem like the “work,” but actually writing it is much tougher than I’d imagined.
And so it is with my prospective careers: I’m sure the challenges are the things I haven’t even spotted. It was pointed out to me the other day that maybe the reason I haven’t written my masterpiece is that I haven’t really experienced all that much so far. I’m no innocent, but frat party goings-on are hardly the stuff of great art. It might take a while to get out there and screw up enough to have something to talk about. It’s daunting, absolutely, but much less daunting that the thought of having to do everything, all at once, right now. Based on what I’ve learned so far, it’s much more fun this way too.