Back to school?

by Jinryu

I’m working pretty much in a field that isn’t related to… well, my field.  I finished university, after all, in English Literature, but for almost a decade I’ve been working in public services, education and health services.

I guess the question that often comes up “Do you regret it?”

Well, there’s no simple answer to that.

I do ask myself, if I had stuck to sciences, or if I’d fished around and tried other programs, maybe I could really get a job that would be in more of a forerunner position?  I mean, I do believe that my current work at the hospital is quite important– but maybe i was meant for bigger things, things that specific degrees might’ve been needed?  What if I’d gone into civil engineerining?  What if I’d gone into some sports science field?  What if I’d gone into urban studies?

There are no end to the number of ifs I can ask of course.  So I guess that leaves me with two ideas.

The first is that I should simply recognize that the decisions that I made are what added up to me being me at this very moment.  On that front, I can’t really have any regrets from this point on.  The only thing I’ve learned about regret is that the things that I did regret back in the day are part of the formative years of my life.  Basically, the worst moments of my life, the things I’d most likely to regret, are the things that gave me a basis by which to look at the rest of my life and appreciate not just how lucky I am to be me, but just as importantly, how skilled I am at being me.

The second is that I can’t really think about my education only in retrospect– there’s nothing to say that I can’t continue schooling and start doing thing the way I want to if indeed that’s what I wanted to do.  It’s just a question of motivation, really.

So, on that second note, I’m looking into doing a masters, most likely in the arts.

Not for my job.  It’s not at all related to that.  But just for myself, as a person. I think that I kinda miss the whole formality of an education. I mean, I learn a lot about the real world on a daily basis just from going about the things that I need to do to survive in the real world, but perhaps that’s exactly why I want to do some schooling again in the formal sense– I need to get back to the lofty ideals.

The thing is, what were the last few jobs that I had?  There was a public library.  There was a hospital.  There was the academy.  And now, it’s another hospital.  These are all very “real world” fields.  I don’t deal with very much fantasy at all.  Every day at these jobs, I either was or still am faced by the reality of things.  I meet people, and there are always problems, problems, problem, and they are very real and affect these people in very real ways.  They money problems.  They have self esteem issues.  They have health problems.  They have problems from every possible domain of study that no amount of experts can reach them at because of discrepancies between what they need and what is available in terms of problem solving.

I guess what I’m saying is that out there, there are a lot of sad stories, and for the past decade, my jobs have been to try and help people find their happy endings.

But it’s too real.

I think that one of those things that graduates often say to people who are on their way to their bachelors degrees is that “university doesn’t prepare you for the real world, it’s completely different out there.”  That is very true I think.  But I don’t think that this is necessarily a point against the education system– it’s something perhaps to it’s favor.

I think that if education succeeds at anything, it should be in the inspiration of dreams and thought.  It should be in building the foundations for hopes, lofty ideals, all that kinda stuff.  The worst of your worries should be un-real problems like registration or fitting things into your schedule; they shouldn’t be questions of life or death or trying to figure out where the next meal will come from.

For me, university was just that– a dream.  Sometimes a boring dream, sometimes a tedious one, but it was for the most part one sheltered from the real world because really, it amounted to so little in terms of actual experience.

To misquote, “it’s the thought that counts.”

And I think I want to start thinking like that again.  To balance things out, maybe.  It’s not for certain, but I’m looking into universities now to see what I might be interested in.