Bachelor of the Arts

My roommate is an Emma Watson-type, an Amal Clooney, a Leslie Knope. She’s beautiful, smart, high-achieving, confident, unbothered by men, and when she’s running the world government in a couple decades, we’ll all be the better for it.

Contrast my roommate with me: a 6th-year senior, former college dropout, fully content with being a C-student. I’m not judging myself here; like I said, I’m fully content. I’ve got my own set of strengths that are impressive to my roommate, and honestly my roommate’s approval is not the metric by which I measure my worth. I’ve got my own trajectory to a beautiful joyous tragic unpredictable life. I dream and I hope and I plan and the two of us are walking two different paths.

I’m fine with this concept.

Yet, I’ve certainly heard this my whole life: “just do your work.” Barf. I was recently talking with a psych professor before class.

“I’m bad at coming to class,” I admitted, surprising no one.
“Yeah, why is that?”
“I don’t know. It’s not that I don’t care, but I also sort of don’t.”
“Yeah, but don’t you want to graduate?”
“Of course, but I also want to stay at home and read the internet and do my own thing.”
“Well you know what they say: C’s Get Degrees.”

I’ve also had this conversation: “but you’re so smart!” Okay, and? Without writing a short novel, and without coming to any conclusions about how smart I may or may not be (because Dunning-Kruger, or something), I’ll say that smarts alone mean nothing. Smarts does not equal hard work, or studiousness, or creativity, or desire to succeed. Smarts does not equal an easy time in school, smarts doesn’t equal success or world government. Smarts equals smarts. Smarts doesn’t explain why I can’t pass Finite Math, or help me out when I try to describe the possibility that yes, I get Finite, I just don’t care enough to work hard enough to pass it. Smarts is pointless, so let’s rethink the metric here.

How about if I had a dollar for every time I’ve had to explain to someone that I like learning, I just don’t like school. “What’s the difference?” I could write another novel about it. I learn from books in libraries, from friends in forests, from the passionate tomes nestled in the depths of the internet. I learn on the job. I put my hands on things and I tell everyone about what I just touched, I externalize the information I take in. Math is reorganizing the furniture, languages are the macarena, the tango, the two-step, physics is a morning ritual, grammar is the unconscious cracking of the knuckles.

I just don’t do well in school. That’s just the way it is. It’s not a reflection on my intellect, my work ethic, or my worth as a person. So what does my degree mean? Or like, what will it mean when I get it? What’s the point?

I want to know everything, I want to see everything, I want to experience my dreams and make them happen by being good and desirable and interesting. I want experience to be my bachelor of the arts, and wisdom to be my master’s degree.