by Lydia DuBois
Age 19. Baltimore, MD
Growing up in hyper-competitive New York City, I believe I’ve been raised in a culture that leads students to believe that where we choose to complete our higher education has a strong correlation with personal identity. This is not to say that the learning and effort I put in to my high school achievements was all for university acceptance, but I do believe that a prestigious school’s affirmation that you, yes, YOU are fit to attend does present us with some validity that we’ve all been foaming at the mouth for ever since we received our first round-of-applause in Kindergarten.
After spending two years in college, (well, 3 semesters because I took my Fall 2014 semester off to farm and contemplate the possibility of being “present”) I have found that I am more confused than I was when I entered. I constantly ask myself: What does it mean to be educated?
If you speak to anyone that knows me, they’ll tell you that I’ve complained about the competitive nature of school and the linear process it has absorbed over the years. (I say “linear” referring to finishing in four years: I genuinely wonder whose idea it was to coin the phrase: “graduate on time.” Talk about pressure.) I CONSTANTLY ASK MYSELF: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE EDUCATED?
I CONSTANTLY ASK MYSELF: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BE EDUCATED?
They’ll probably also tell you that I question the overall purpose of higher education, that I value uncertainty, and that I could talk for hours about what the hell we’re doing here. What the hell are we doing here?
To some, probably to many, and often, to myself, my opinion and my choice of conversation seem entitled and unappreciative: why don’t I just hold my tongue and be thankful for the amazing opportunity I’ve been given? Why don’t I just get the degree and move on?
My purpose in life is to do things differently. To be exciting. To feel fulfilled. To question everything. I can’t tell you where I’ll be next year, but I’ll say that one day I’ll have a diploma. I can’t tell you what I’ll be doing tomorrow, but I will eventually finish that essay. I’ll probably look back on this writing in two days, when I turn twenty, and say, “how foolish I was as a teenager!”
I also must analyze my choice to question college as one of fearlessness. I SCARE MYSELF SOMETIMES, BECAUSE QUESTIONS COME WITH ANSWERS THAT OUR UPBRINGINGS AND INHERITED VALUES HAVE HIDDEN IN THE DARK FOR TOO LONG.
I SCARE MYSELF SOMETIMES, BECAUSE QUESTIONS COME WITH ANSWERS THAT OUR UPBRINGINGS AND INHERITED VALUES HAVE HIDDEN IN THE DARK FOR TOO LONG.
I have found that in talking with my friends and peers, many people seem to agree with my sentiments. I get a sense, however, that people are afraid to ask themselves the questions that I ask, such as: Why college? What am I doing here? Does completing a degree make me a more educated person? What does it mean to be educated? because they’re afraid that if they truly allow themselves to answer these, they’ll somehow veer off the linear track.
My purpose is to challenge everything, and in doing that, to challenge myself. To self-analyze, to reflect, to write, to contemplate. I scare myself sometimes, because with questions come answers that our upbringings and inherited values have hidden in the dark for too long. So bring on the answers, brain! But promise me that for every seemingly-confirming sentence, you’ll remind me it’s once again time to insert a question mark, to lift my left eyebrow, and to be conscientiously curious.