Strolling the sun-blazed boardwalks of my favorite, childhood beach, my grandmother looked at me and said, very gravely, “Now, you’ll have to tell me when your graduation ceremony is so we can purchase plane tickets.”
I’m the first grandchild to graduate. You’ll understand then, that when I responded,
“Well, I’m graduating in December, the ceremony is in the summertime and I am not attending.”
She reacted no differently than a tidal wave arching over our heads.
Congratulations, Self, you are now educated.
You have checked all of the boxes on the “Big List” that some board deemed sufficient to label you as a college graduate. With this sparkly name tag, may you step into the monstrous world and find yourself squishing onto the exact same stepping stone as everyone else graduating with you.
Make sure you hang the diploma somewhere eye-height, so that everyone viewing it can see all of the phrases in the certificate mesh into one, summative word: ordinary.
The path for twenty-something-year old individuals has been worn down, beaten in and cemented.
Decades ago, the trend was that a good majority of the population joined the proud working class, another large group was privileged for the opportunity of collegiate education and then the minority did their own thing, whatever that looked like.
Well, I’m proposing a shift back, because the people of my generation are kind of boring.
Groups of high school kids, intelligent or not, athletically gifted or not, are spending their four years preparing for an identical journey—getting into the best four-year college they can weasel into.
Thanks to media, the college experience has been incorrectly glorified, and now: who wants to miss out on the bumping parties and intoxicated study sessions? And haven’t you heard? Without a college-degree, your odds of being homeless are probably pretty high.
The dilemma is that now, young adults are starting to have the same big dreams, and they all begin with going to college.
What about wandering the world? Jumping on airplanes and pursuing a different kind of four-year education?
Sure, I’ve learned tons throughout my four and a half years of college. I began at an elite-private school (not my thing), moved to an in-state university and then an ordinary in-state college. But actually, I’m grateful for my gradual descent because of what I learned in the process: Your education is what you make it.
Ultimately, what you learn depends on how badly you wish to learn it.
The depth to which you know something correlates with how much you care about your own brainpower. As far as I’m concerned, you can get as smart at Columbia as you can in a state school.
You can still educate yourself while pursuing routes that don’t sound like “the college experience”. That’s not to say that a person should never attend higher education; I’m not encouraging that. But it shouldn’t be socially required to happen fresh out of high school.
The world is so big, and our society’s obsession with college makes it smaller. I just wonder where the voice came from that told all of us twenty-somethings what to do, and why are we listening?
Of course, all of this time, I’ve meant to talk about yoga. (Because I am absolutely the person who thinks yoga is the answer to all.)
Meandering my own way through schools and textbooks, I decided to begin a pursuit on the side: a yoga practice.
I turned to yoga when I was just a college sophomore, about three years ago; the sensations that filled me up after practice, the invisible and luring pull it had on me, how wide it opened my eyes—now that’s what I call a learning experience.
Now I’m teaching, doing my best to pass on the gift of yoga so that slowly, our world can grow more aware again, more conscious. I’m almost certain that had I never started my practice, I might also find myself as a little collegiate drone, marching further away from the mysterious adventures and tangents that are life.
Maybe all of this was simply an extended prescription for all the twenty-somethings: take a yoga class. Or don’t, but discover a passion.
What is it that secretly tugs on your heart, jerks you away from the path and makes you the most fearful?
Truly, I should overdose on my own medicine. I suddenly recall all of the times I was inspired to escape somewhere, to discover a foreign world, but instead sat in my dorm and ate Pop-Tarts. Isn’t it sad that the dream of “traveling the world” is the one that has taken on a reputation of pathetic cliché?
Does anybody know, where has our sense of adventure gone?
I get down on myself, away from the moment when I wish I were in Santorini instead of at my desk. But deeply, I know that the time I spend breathing and flowing on my mat is very much my current adventure.
I’m sorry Granny: I cannot sit in a robe, identical to the swarm around me, listening to exhausted words about the real world, just to understand the very obvious objective of the last five years.
But you can join me in the yoga room.
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Asst. Ed.: Linda Jockers / Ed.: Catherine Monkman