In a closed classroom, there sat roughly fifteen students circled around a mammoth-sized conference table. Nearly all of them were in their mid-twenties. Hands folded neatly in a studious and almost prayer-like pose. Eager eyes. Shining smiles. Cutthroat and competitive attitudes simmering deep inside only to bubble over when the time came in this ‘rat race’ world we lived in. Wide open minds to be fed with factual knowledge by teachers—approximately two teachers who were just as excited to share their wealth of knowledge in this mandatory training program.
I was one out of these students in title, but not feeling it by any means in role fulfillment. For one thing, I was feeling quite confined, claustrophobic, and caged in this small room with strangers. Many do not believe me when I confess that I am shy and even quite awkward in and with a big group of strangers, all dependent, of course, on who is in the group and what led us to our encounter. The overstimulation is too much for the observation quality that is naturally ignited me me with so many (too many) in one room. A group or power in numbers, completely takes the upper hand and over the sincerity of a person. I am much better in and prefer individual encounters that are a true gift to me to get to know a person in his/her real essence.
Thankfully, the teachers were probably aware of someone like me when they proposed the next activity; Each of us to announce and share three interesting qualities about ourselves. “Ooohs…” and “Aahhhs…” and raised eyebrows were most of the responses to the qualities. However, there were the select few that received an enthusiastic round of applause.
The receivers of the round of applause were the climbers up the “success” ladder with obtaining yet another degree to add to their Bachelors Degree that just was not enough and did not cut it in this competitive, corporate, and high strung society.
Masters in Healthcare Policy. Masters of Public Health. Masters in Communication.
I’ve been wondering if there was or ever could be a Masters Degree in Life. Was there a degree I could get to master myself and life?
In the classroom with all these students, I was the student that contemplated deeply if these degrees made them any more smarter, wiser, and capable to handle this life that did not come with any set of instructions, maps and compasses of directions, or clear-cut answers to the questions that we had and would continually have as we aged that could not and would not be answered in a classroom setting at a drop of a wish and dime? They knew how to read the books, study until the crack of dawn, guzzle down caffeine to stay awake for yet another project or paper, and listen to the lectures, but did they know about LIFE? Yes, LIFE that required budgeting finances, making split-second or long-term decisions, compromising versus standing up to values and principles, communicating with people and adjusting to their personalities, giving to and respecting others, handling pressure and stress with grace rather than giving up or grunting, and that the easy way was not always the best way to taste the sweetness of victory that only came with the hard ways.
So many ‘masters’ in degrees and the names and numbers of advanced degrees keep on increasing, but did these degrees develop and even achieve anything more and even to ‘master’ life? Did those who clapped their hands in a round of applause even know why they were clapping? Because, unlike the others who clapped for the climbers and receives who beamed with pride, I was the one who cringed with a dull and lackluster touch, rather than clap, of my hands.
We believe and perceive that more degrees get us the better job, more money, and bring out the better us, but what is really ‘better’ and is that truly found in classes and lectures? I am all for education and the classroom setting (especially if you knew since you were a tiny tyke what you wanted to be when you grew up), but not to the point of hindering on life-experiencing. If you obtained an advanced degree(s), did it bring what you expected or even more in life that you foresaw? With more degrees, were your intended goals met and even closer to ‘mastering’ life?
Being a ‘student’ again has made me realize just how much I am NOT a student who is able to sit idle in the classroom to listen to lectures. Rather, I am a student of life to experience everything hands-on. I am the kind of student of life to live it and do it. Actually, when I look back on my life, I question if I went to college because I had to and because that is what we do rather than because I really wanted to go to college. Some of the smartest and wisest people I have ever met are high-school educated who have maneuvered through life because they had to survive rather than masters or doctorates, but there is also vice versa. It is all how we get through and learn from life.
Another round of applause. The clap of hands in the small classroom with nearly fifteen students echoes in my ears. I am only one student who is getting through and trying to listen and learn from life as my greatest teacher. My ‘role’ as a student will forever evolve, progress, and change because of what life will teach me at different stages and ages. We are all students of life to learn, observe, develop, decide, and live with consequences from the choices we made and that life laid out for us.
No round of applause. No one needs to put their hands together to clap for me, as I feel that am in a humble position to learn as the student and will never be the master of life when life is the greatest teacher of all.
So, what kind of 'student' are you? What is your education of degrees versus education of life?
Keep smilin’ until we meet again,