I was working at a well-known insurance company that offered tuition reimbursement (not all of it, mind you), so I figured I should take advantage of it and get my degree. But, really this starts before that. This starts when my mother “rammed” it into my head that education is almost as important as breathing. Knowledge is power and all that jazz. Yeah…no. No it’s not. Attaining my BA in Media Studies/Communications w/a minor in English Literature hasn’t given me any power. Two years after I received my BA, I was laid off. (I know the new PC term is “down-sized”, but if you’re going to follow my blogs, you should learn from the beginning that I am not PC, I don’t care what you think of me (your judgments), and I am WYRIWYG (What You Read Is What You Get.) Anyway, where was I…oh, yes- I have all this knowledge and no power to go with it. Is knowledge really power, in this century? Am I any happier or any more productive because I graduated from college? My mother told me that I would have more options, more choices if I had a college degree. I guess she should have been a tad more specific about the options available. I have the option of either being a cog in the wheel of Corporate America, and actually making a living wage; or, I have the option of actually having a career doing what I love and not making even a surviving wage. Nice option. I think back on those years working in Corporate America, making friends with my co-workers who had no formal education after graduating high school, yet were content, if not happy to be said cog. They went to work for five days a week. They counted the days each of those weeks, until the weekend when their lives were really lived. And they did just that…lived. Me? I bemoaned my job for being, among other things, boring. I would attempt to write after work, but I was always so listless and completely uninspired by my daily grind at the office. I now work at my alma mater in a creative capacity. And, though I love my job and the people with which I work, I can barely survive on the salary I’m paid. At 40-something I’m borrowing money from my mom to make ends meet, when I can’t find a temp gig. I find myself settling for contentment rather than striving for happiness. Now, contentment has its “compensations”, but I know what it means to be happy and that, by far, is much better.
Being a nerd/geek, I love school and acquiring knowledge. I was lucky enough to have a professor/mentor that enjoyed teaching and his passion transferred to me. Upon learning about the history of time (only the rich could afford timepieces, so they controlled the time of the workers), it made me angry to think that this “the-one-who-dies-with-the-most-toys-wins” mentality has been around for centuries. Upon learning about the Industrial Revolution and how it changed our society from cyclical to linear, I formed the opinion that it (Industrial Revolution) was THE worst thing to happen to mankind. Upon learning about the Council at Nicaea and how this group of clergy (human beings, nonetheless) from all faiths took it upon themselves to pick and choose from the multitude of faith-based writings of the time, to form the Christian book of rules and regs we currently call the Bible; I decided that man-made religion was certainly not for me. Though, in retrospect that was one great thing to come from that aspect of my education. It seemed that my insanely expensive “higher” education was separating me from the rest of society, rather than making me one of the “herd”. Now, in some ways, I view that to be a good thing. However, it’s extremely lonely out here in “march-to-the-beat-of-a-different-drummer”-land; and,…ignorance has it’s place and is, some of the time, bliss.
So, am I happier? Not really. Making more money may not buy happiness, but the world-at-large certainly doesn’t make it easy to be happy since most people seem to measure happiness with dollar signs.
More successful? Well, based on the way I measure success, yes, but as success is a subjective thing to measure, probably by society’s standards, no I am not.
I guess it really boils down to the fact that having become a 40-something human being who cares less and less about what people think of me, those things I use to measure my happiness and success have changed drastically compared to those days when I used to care what others thought of me and my subsequent attempt to live my life to make them happy.