college life

Monday, January 11, 2010 , Posted by Johnny Fuery at 2:02 AM

Originally Published 2005-09-01 03:40:34

I heard a few minutes of Talk of the Nation on public radio (my local affiliate is KQED -- you can listen to the archive when it's posted at the audio archive site. Look for "College Reality", under 31 Aug 2005) today. The topic was college life -- partying vs. studying, how the experience has changed over the years.

It made me kind of angry.

Every time I encounter it, I'm struck by how much of a given it is to the "haves" that college is what happens after high school. And how indiscriminantly arrogant that paradigm is.

As I ponder my own journey, I realize that I've gone from hiding/pretending/exaggerating (mostly letting people assume what they want to -- the beauty of the arrogance I refer to above is that if someone vaguely walks the walk it never occurs to anyone that their lives could have been any different) to being altogether silent, yet honest when asked.

The problem is that there is no acceptance there. The arrogant and rude attitude that anyone who didn't go to college is somehow a loser or an idiot is common. The attitude that everyone goes to college -- i.e., that everyone is just like you -- is downright prevalent.

In a way, I find the latter more offensive. The fomer I dismiss pretty quickly -- it's just the way the world is, and I certainly won't shed a tear for those folks when their mid-life crises come along. The latter, however, is so insidious that it gets under my skin with surprising regularity. It's the same shortsightedness at work, it's just a more positive spin on it -- condescension is still there.

Nearly everyone in my professional circle and many in my personal circle have this attitude. They don't even realize it, so I tell myself repeatedly to forgive them, to overlook it, and to accept it. It nonetheless really gets to me at times.

It's much more than the condescension, however. I don't feel as though any of my colleagues or friends look down on me. If anything, they look up to me, especially when they try to understand how much I've done with how little I was given.

There's a fair amount of resentment I have inside on this one, that's for sure... it really isn't fair. If a mind is such a terrible thing to waste, why was mine wasted? I'm out here building software so more viagra can be sold and running real estate businesses, yes, but it would've been awfully nice to be exposed to academia -- maybe I'd be building artificial intelligence software instead and running hedge funds.

Aside from my own internal angst, however, the frustration of relating still remains. I have a genuinely hard time listening to peers talk about -- well, anything -- because the entire experience has been so different. Sure, I'm glad I'm a "unique little snowflake" (Fight Club reference), but it's often so hard to connect on a more-than-superficial level.

I just get tired of faking it, I guess. Even when I'm completely open and honest, there's a fair amount of masking going on.

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