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So, some of you may already know that I'm finishing up my last week right now at a job I hated for a long time. After that I'll have a week off before I start my new job, which will not only pay better and offer better benefits, but I believe it will be work to which I am much better suited and will stress me out less.
This got me thinking about my time at college. I have a bachelor's degree in anthropology, and I most certainly do not work in this field. Most of the money-oriented people with whom I went to college would consider this a failure, and of course their viewpoint is the mainstream, so it's easy to feel this way. However, I don't think this is the case. College is what got me out of the rural landscape in which I grew up and into a bigger city with more opportunities. It's also where I met the overwhelming majority of my friends and acquaintances (even now, four years after I graduated two years late).
In addition, before college I was flirting with some right-wing politics that would have been... unbecoming. Going to college, meeting new people and being exposed to challenging viewpoints kept this from becoming a disaster.
Regardless of employment, which is oft pegged to social status and standing, I am glad I went to college, even though I'm going to end up working jobs I could have done without a degree (I'm more of a blue-collar guy when it comes to employment. I loathe desk jobs.).
.... I just wish I didn't owe the government more than $54k now.... Oh well!
Congrats! I remember you had been loathing where you were and this is welcome news to hear!
Paying for study is really... well not ideal to put it mildly. Thankfully, we (still) have free college education where I live, although it is hard to enter.
On the education part, I might be deemed an academic in some sense, I really hope I manage to pursue a Phd degree soon (been basically idle since the pandemic started) and continue my research career. I do believe education is of utmost importance, and what you tell of being exposed to challenging ideas is the best part, it really is life changing. Glad you got out of the pipeline.
On employment, I too have a complicated relationship with it. I don't feel like elaborating on it now, but lets say I have a degree to find a job with relative ease but most of them are unethical in my view.
On anthropology, it is great, hope you still find time and joy to study it, even if only on a hobby capacity.
The trajectory of my academic ambitions was altered irreparably after hurricane Katrina landed in 2005; I'm glad your experience of college was a positive one, and I've sometimes wondered whether mine would have been had I gone. Rather than pursue academic education in the standard routes, I ended up taking a few technical certifications which netted me a job in an industry within which individuals across the global diaspora participate.
"Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one's lifetime." - Mark Twain
Your story very much reminded me of that quote. It's no accident that people harboring the most negative view of All Those Others are generally people cloistered in their little segregated corner of the world.
Best wishes on this hopeful change in your life! Desk jobs are generally overrated — trust me, I'm an "intellectual" with glasses and fucked up lower back. Manual work can be a source of great joy if it's meaningful and not overburdening. I'm currently (amateurishly) fixing two of my friends' guitars and it's so much more rewarding for me than any of the hundreds of never ending tasks at my office job.
And funnily enough, I'm getting ready to leave the city and the job I hate and return to the rural landscape in which I grew up. Yes, the time at university was interesting, but a total waste of resources (thankfully no crippling debt, since I live in Poland, where even higher education is mostly state-funded). My degree in energetics sits useless in a drawer thanks to stale and experience-driven job market in this field. I don't care about it anymore. I've come to realize over those few years that big city life makes me lonely and miserable among anonymous crowds and concrete walls. Pandemic, Internet, remote work and online delivery make most of the city merits irrelevant. Especially for a meditative homebody like me.
It's not your job but it may have been a blessing in disguise. Most of the private sector lacks not only the interest, but after 30+ years of not doing it, it also lacks the internal skills required to teach relevant skills to their employees. Having lost the ability of teaching narrowly-relevant skills (i.e. those that only apply to that particular position) to well-educated young people, it gradually outsourced the task of preparing people for their first job to universities -- many of which are now firmly focused on teaching you how to ace your first interview and then oh well you'll figure something out, as opposed to preparing you for a 45-year career.
In my (nerdy STEM) field I now routinely see fresh graduates who lack the theoretical knowledge required to stay up-to-date with what's happening in their fields for more than 5-10 years after graduation, not because they're dumb, but because that's not what their college education was focused on. By the time they're 35 they either move to essentially paper-pushing positions, or to high-inertia projects where they can live off obsolete knowledge, because they lack the foundation on which to learn substantially new and different things -- a foundation that universities now avoid building, since it doesn't directly lead to landing jobs so they can't justify it.
Some fields, and anthropology is one of them, don't bend that easily in this direction, hence their current status. But it's also a degree whose value doesn't diminish as steeply.
(Oh yeah, the fact that young graduates *owe the government* money for education is a fscking scam...)
I wish you didn't owe the government anything, either. It's a pointless burden, but I'm glad you look back on college as positive. Being exposed to sufficiently challenging viewpoints to keep you away from the crueler wings of the world can only be a good thing. I had a similar experience—made more than a few of my lasting friendships through a club for Labor Rights.
Best of luck with the postal gig!
Hmm, anthropology isn't exactly an office job. My wife is currently seeking the position of anthropologist, which she dreamed of in the complex of Tauric Chersonesos.
So the biggest topic I hear about at home is anthropology. And I find it very interesting!
In any case, I wish you the best of luck in your new place!
PS: And with right-wing politicians, yep, it's better not to mess with))))
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