I have never regretted not going to college (one semester doesn’t count). Though, I admit at times that having a degree to wave under an employer’s nose would be nice. You know, to startle them. But I’m still in the same boat that I was in when I graduated high school. There is no course of study that attracts me enough to put the effort in to get that piece of paper. Or maybe I should say that there’s no major that would make me sit through another Biology or Psychology class? It’s all the same.
Some of my fellow high school students were required to go to college (their parents had plans for their rooms!), while others figured they would go, but they hadn’t decided what to study yet. But my parents raised me to believe that you can get good work and succeed in life without a degree, if you choose to do so. We live in a land of opportunity, where if you have the drive, you can achieve anything. The requirement is hard work, not just a piece of paper to hang on your wall. And discussions of our present economy aside, we still live in a country like I just described. You just might have to work a bit harder, nowadays.
But there’s a different type of regret that surfaces when you’re working on a college campus, in a part-time job, getting paid by the hour. You start regretting that you can’t wear a t-shirt that proclaims your many successes, and states that you’re not the idiot that some of them might think you are. Oh, come off it, have you never judged someone working in a fast-food joint, or working in a food court? There’s something about a hair net that makes you think that no degree came with it. I should know, I’ve worn them.
I am not trying to diss those that work fast-food jobs or get paid by the hour, far from it. I am trying to say that I have been guilty of being judgmental about people, because of where they work. Who hasn’t? I hope that I’ve learned from it, and never talk down or treat someone unkindly, no matter what job they work in.
So, if you know how you yourself sometimes think, what are the students thinking when they come through your cafe, and you’re wearing a dingy orange polo shirt (the frumpyness it exudes!)? I want to tell them that I’m not old enough to be their mother, even if the shirt makes me look like I am. I want to tell them that I worked as a nanny for a year in Australia, I’ve run my own business, and I could kick some of their butts at Ultimate Frisbee. And I want to tell them that I’ve read 101 books this year, 22 of them non-fiction.
Before you think I have constant self-esteem issues, I really don’t. It’s just something that I think about, now and then. Because despite some of their brilliancy in engineering and chemistry, if they’re anything like my siblings, I know a lot more about history than they do. I just don’t do well in a classroom atmosphere. Besides, I’m still getting over my fear of college students, which is another reason I didn’t like school.
I can’t tell them that my book total for the year would be even higher if I hadn’t gotten on a non-fiction binge that’s really slowing me down. Trying to read 4-5 history books at the same time will do that. Of course, I broke the non-fiction streak by reading Stephenie Meyer’s The Host, but I’m still booking my way through Larry Schweikart’s A Patriot’s History of the United States: From Columbus’s Great Discovery to the War on Terror, which has about 900 pages. But it’s SO interesting! Just now, I’m still reading about how we went from the Articles of Confederation, to writing a federal Constitution for the United States.
That’s when I’m not reading Forgotten Conservatives in American History (Brion McClanahan), The Venona Secrets: Exposing Soviet Espionage and America’s Traitors (Herbert Romerstein & Eric Breindel), Liberal Fascism (Jonah Goldberg), Of Thee I Zing (Laura Ingraham), and Choices of One (Timothy Zahn, Star Wars series).
Maybe I should print a t-shirt, with a picture of my library, before I had to put it in a storage unit. And all the books I read this year will be listed on the back. I suppose it would have to be written in tiny, tiny print.
But don’t worry, the longer I work on campus, the less I think this will bother me. My pride in hitting this year’s goal will fade, as I reach for a different goal, next year. And maybe some of my conversations with students will reveal that I know more than how to ring up a pizza on the cash register. One can always hope. : )
This was originally intended to be a post about my year of reading, but I rambled off in another direction. I will save that for a future post. Bear with me, I still have time to finish several more books!