Editorial: What the hell am I doing here?

I spent the entirety of the lecture fiddling with the stray end of a stitch on the bulb of my trimmed scalp. This was my distraction.

It was an hour-long recorded lecture divided into four parts. Believe it or not, I was excited to start attending classes. I was thrilled to take notes and have a purpose greater than clipping my toenails. 

But as I sat back and started typing, pausing to catch up after every four-syllable word, I realized I hadn’t the faintest care in the world for this information. 

And if I’m being honest, I only ever understood about one-fifth of the words being explained to me, all of which were conjunctions.

What is the purpose of my learning this information? To boast at social gatherings? To finally be the pretentious douchebag from the bar in Good Will Hunting? I do like apples, damn it!

It’s a harsh realization when you finally acknowledge that you’re the Chuckie of the class.

I thought back to the many times I sat in lectures (real, physical classrooms) with fond memories of knowledge I hadn’t retained. I like university; I like my program; I’m proud to be a Golden Hawk. So, why, since my first day, has every second felt laboured?

As I searched my brain for memories to reassure me that I do belong here, I could hear acrylic nails incessantly tapping on rose gold keyboards. I then realized that I felt the same way then as I do now.

What the hell am I doing here?

Sure, I like books, but whoever said I wanted to know the societal context behind their construction? I took a literature course to read literature, not to explain the history of American instability. 

How “Research Methods” ever became a class I could not tell you. Had I seriously taken a class to conduct research about conducting research? I could tell you more about the baseball game I watched during the class than the class itself (for your information, the Cardinals won a nail-biter in extras).

When did everything become so mandatorily pretentious? We’re practically breastfed course content in high school. Suddenly now that my mother is paying, we’re to be taught by a list of synonyms?

You had me at hello—and that’s where you also lost me. Was there a contractual obligation when you signed your tenure forbidding you from speaking in layman’s terms? 

Teach me about love and life (as best you can) or teach me how to be human. We’re still children. Sure, we think we know everything, but we know we don’t. 

We still drink to the point of vomiting. We still fall victim to the dental assistants littered throughout campus, convincing us we have festering cavities. We still wear shorts in the winter.

Of course, I may be projecting. Maybe I simply chose the difficult path. Maybe there are plenty of students who enjoy their studies, thrilled by the challenge of dissecting every mumble Michel Foucault ever jotted down.

But I do know without question that there are parts of university I enjoy. My time writing for The Cord has been one of the most fulfilling things I’ve ever done and continues to be weekly. I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything in the world.

These are the things that make university worth it. Not the words I don’t understand or the books I’ve pretend to read, but the knowledge I’ve obtained from the continuous experience and social broadening. 

I’m a part of something bigger than myself, something that doesn’t threaten damnation for playing with yourself. I might not enjoy every second of it and probably won’t understand a lot of it, but by no means am I stripping it of its value.

I don’t mean to undermine the education I’ve been privileged to receive; I’ve learnt plenty. But has any of it made me a better person? No. But then again, that was never the deal.

It’s the experience that betters you as a human being. Not the dedicated study binges or the scholarly articles but the personal growth that comes with them.

And at the end of the day, that’s what I care about most: growing and bettering the only person any of us should ever have to answer to.

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