Navigating Bullshit

Finding substance in lectures at university that I don’t think are important 😖

I never went to University. My story is somewhat predictable. I did really well in school early on, coasted in the middle, and ended up as an underachiever whose grades weren’t quite good enough to get into any of the good courses in University. I couldn’t afford to go to the private schools, and I didn’t want to either out of principle – I knew too many people who had spent good money to get their paper qualifications and then didn’t do very much with it afterwards.

My story changes slightly each time I tell it. Technically, at some point, I was trying pretty hard to get into University – a little too little, too late. I was hoping to do Political Science, or Media Studies, or Journalism. In a way, I got really lucky that I didn’t get into any of those things. I have friends who ended up doing them, and practically all of them have complained to me at some point or another just how vapid their classes are, how tedious their assignments, how boring it all is.

So I’m pretty glad I never went. It seems to me that some of them are carrying around some trauma from their University experiences – they endured something that they now have to unlearn.

Anyway.

I remember when I was a kid, I once talked to an older guy I kinda admired. (There have been very few people in my life that I have admired. I have very high standards for admiration.) He was a lawyer, who seemed to be pretty successful, and had a positive attitude, was fun, thoughtful, intelligent. I wanted to be like him. I met him for coffee once, and I told him about how stressed I was at school, and how none of it seemed to matter or make sense, and how I couldn’t wait to be out of it.

I still remember the gist of what he said. He said… “In life, you’re always going to find yourself in situations that you didn’t quite ask for, where you have to do something that you don’t quite want to do. How you handle yourself in those situations speaks volumes of your character, and in a way defines who you are as a person.”

I thought it sounded very virtuous and wise. I was completely unable to follow his advice. I practically flunked out of school.

On retrospect, I wish I hadn’t even bothered to try and compromise. I would be happier and better off today if I had spent my time making things, reading, writing, playing music, meeting people. All of those things add value to my life. School really did not.

(This is very irresponsible advice that I’m giving. If you’re reading this, and nodding your head and taking it seriously, please consult a mature adult for a contrasting opinion.)

But my life is not yet 100% bullshit-free, and it probably never will be. To live in civilization is to be swimming in voluminous sludge-slides of bullshit. To bathe in it, to breathe it, to choke in it. How do we deal?

Different people will have different strategies and coping mechanisms. The mature, smart thing to do is to try to frame things positively. How is this painful, disgusting thing that you’re facing going to help you get what you want in life? I never really did that very much, and sometimes I still regret it a little bit. If I had studied harder in school, I might have gotten a shot at getting some scholarships and gone overseas on exchange and had some interesting experiences. But that never happened, and if I’m honest with myself, I don’t think I could’ve done it any other way. Reality seems pretty deterministic on hindsight.

Another thing you could do is… laugh. Laugh at how ridiculous it is that you’re sitting in some bullshit lecture in some bullshit university, and realize that this too will pass. You’re just kind of stuck in a shitty zone until you can get out. And there are lots of shitty zones in life. Lots of waiting on the phone with shitty dial tone.

This blog is called “Productive ENTP”, so I should try and end with some productive advice. Erm. I’d say… take yourself out on a walk when you can, and ask yourself why you are where you are. It could be that you’re in University because your parents insisted that you go, or it could be because you want a degree so you can apply for some sort of job that you want. There’s always something you can learn even from the shittiest parts of life – sometimes these things aren’t obvious until later on. So I guess I would say… pay attention. You might not be paying attention to the lecture itself, but pay attention to whatever it is that’s going on that you think is interesting. Maybe pay attention to your classmates, pay attention to the body language of the professor, or write notes to yourself about how ridiculous the whole approach is. Get SOMETHING out of it. Even if it’s just some laughs. It adds up to something eventually. I really believe this.

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