Monday, June 25, 2012

A Degree in Regret

I wouldn't say I regret going to college, but lately I've been measuring the benefits compared to what I would rather be doing right now. Thus far, the benefits have won every pro/con list, but they've been winning by a smaller margin.

Obviously I developed higher level problem solving skills, formed opinions based on a much larger world view that suburbia provided me, met my wife and most of my current friends, and have memories that would've never been formed elsewhere. I don't regret going to university because it got me out of a dark place, I felt stuck in St. Charles.

But there have been signs all around me lately that make me wonder if it was worth it.

One of my uncle Mike's former band mates found me about two weeks ago. He's been able to make a living as a musician and successful tattoo artist for decades now. I think about how much energy I expel working for a corporation and by the time I clock out at night, how I'm too tired to think. The creative part of my brain is flexed so little nowadays that when I do make it a point to sit down and write, it becomes harder.

I studied literature and creative writing, an endeavor many scoff at. It's not a degree that makes you money. I think about all these great writers I studied, writers that were able to go to university and hone their crafts, but still were able to travel, live life working small jobs here and there, while focusing on writing. Their debt was so little, that often they were able to pay it off within a few years.

You wonder why there hasn't been a great American novel in decades? It's because the people that used to write those novels are so buried in debt, they put down the pen and paper for database work. In our ADD world, blogs are about the only thing writers have time for.

It's not necessarily the money. I've been asked why I didn't go into something like engineering, business, mathematics, or science where the jobs are. Its because I have no passion for those subjects. I would hate myself if I phoned it in for a paycheck. I work with Financial Advisers that make millions of dollars, but they're mostly unhappy pricks that work 70 hours a week, trading digital currency and gambling on the next hot company.

I think the thing that has affected me the most was when I was sitting down next to Lacy's dad yesterday. He told me how pissed he is that he worked at a place he didn't like for so long, to build up all of this financial stability, that he doesn't even get to use now.

He's got regret in his eyes and not enough time to do anything about it. I don't want to end up that way.