“So have you thought about grad school?”

No.

So I guess I’ll do that now for a while.

I wrote a post that objectively compares today’s dating landscape to the sardonically difficult Nickelodeon double dare obstacle course. That post was actually pretty fantastic, but since there was no way for me to write it without getting uncomfortably personal, it’s gonna have to remain an exclusive VIP ticket. Instead, I’m gonna write about a question that comes up a lot when you’re finished with college and have no idea where your life is going.

“How’d you like to spend a bunch of money and two to five years of your life studying your ass off and being somebody’s bitch for a chance to maybe eventually make a little more money when you’re old and decrepit?”

No.

Alright, boys. Let’s go to print. Another brilliant analysis, Paul. I don’t know how you continue to consistently churn out such premium, thoughtful content.

Dammit, bad Paul, would you please at least pretend to entertain this idea with an open mind?

Fine.

It certainly opens doors. If I had a nickel for every indeed.com post that says “MA preferred,” I’d have several nickels. But the funny thing about preferences is that they’re fickle. Dan the misogynist prefers Mandy McBigtits to Accomplished Amy. A dirty little secret is that the world is more or less run by a bunch of Dan the misogynists. There is no meritocracy to it. Just a bunch of assholes whimsically making calls based on whatever satisfies their instant whims. You can pull all the right levers and construct a shiny resume version of yourself, but at the end of the day, you’ll still find yourself managing a Papa John’s, hoping for that 40 cent raise your boss keeps hinting at.

Maybe that’s a bit too pessimistic. It matters some bit, right? People wouldn’t go to grad school at all if it didn’t have some kind of upside. Of course, some people still spend $300 on Beats by Dre, so maybe that’s not a very good argument.

Maybe I’m being a little too vague in my use of the term “grad school”. After all, an MBA from Sharky’s clown college isn’t the same thing as an M.D. from Harvard. So this takes us back to the real problem.

“Hey Paul, what the hell are you interested in?”

My work experience to this point has been great at helping me figure out what it is I don’t want to do with my life. Dishwashing wasn’t my jam. Neither was cemetery auditing. Mobile application production for gps audio tour guides of America’s national parks was kind of cool, but that might be a bit of a niche skill. Account managing could go either way. I’ll let you know once I figure out what an account manager does.

“But what is it that you love doing more than anything?”

The sincere answer is that my favorite thing in the world is having a conversation with somebody where I don’t have to put up any barriers. When I can just be honest and be myself and know that that’s good enough. If there’s beers or coffee or Arnold Palmers involved, all the better, but it’s mostly about the people. The thing is, I haven’t found a whole lot of them. I’d say maybe half a dozen or so. It’s also not exactly the kind of thing you can monetize. “Genuine conversationalist” isn’t a listing I come across a whole lot. “Genuine conversationalist, MBA required” isn’t a listing I’ve ever seen.

Come to think of it, that whole paragraph doesn’t really need to be in here, but it seems like an important self-realization moment, which was kind of the point of this exercise so whatever.

“But Paul, you have so much potential.”

Maybe? I guess? Look, I know I’m a pretty bright dude. I have nights when I absolutely kill it on Jeopardy. But then there’s also nights when there’s a lot of European history and botany questions, and I don’t know a whole lot about European history or botany. I’ve never read a Shakespeare play cover to cover, or even seriously tried. I dropped out of Calculus 2 because it was too hard. My SAT score was just okay. I also write pretty well, and I’m good at explaining things to people, and I empathize well with the dude who doesn’t get things right away.

I was superficially interested in economics– enough to complete an undergraduate degree in it. That is, I found a lot of the topics that the field encompasses interesting. But I found writing STATA code and analyzing supply curves to be considerably less interesting. I could probably stomach doing it for a living, and I might actually be good at it if I put the time in. But is it my calling? I don’t know, man. I just don’t know.

If you’re a stickler for redundancy like I am, you might have noticed a lot of instances of the word “maybe” in this post. That’s the best way to explain my answer to an oddly nuanced and even more annoying question.

Have you thought about going to grad school?

Maybe.

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