Tuesday, March 03, 2009

On knowledge.

Recently my boss asked me if I have a college degree.

I always feel like it's something special on my resume, like it gives me some extra oomph or something to have on there "Yes I got my degree in bullshitting just a few years ago. I am capable of sleeping in classrooms for several years at a time." It's funny that I've gotten a job that I really am very happy with and the fellow who probably chose me out of however many applicants didn't even notice that I graduated from college. My position is entry-level; a degree wasn't required. But you'd think they'd notice.

I must say though that I forget sometimes that I have one. I was in college for, like, 17 years; I took it pretty slowly, dropped a few classes here and there when they looked like they might involve much work or the professor was a shit. There were times when I forgot that college actually ended. Sometimes it seemed like I might just go to college forever, especially once I discovered film classes in which I could watch lots of movies and then do some reading on them at home and that was about it.

When graduation time finally came, I was finishing in December, and I just wasn't very interested in participating in the actual graduation ceremony, so I skipped it. They sent my diploma in the mail which kept me from having to demonstrate in front of my fellow graduees that I can't shake hands with my right hand and clasp onto something with my left at the same time- it's like chewing gum and walking: too much thought is required, especially at that time in my life when I was drinking about 43 beers a day and living off of deli food.

When I told my boss that I do in fact have a degree in philosophy, he laughed and said, "So what have you used that degree for?" In truth, I haven't used it for much professionally. I intended to use it for toilet paper, but I keep forgetting. It's one of those liberal arts degrees that is great if you're going to move onto something else, like law school, or teaching, or hanging around in a toga sitting on rocks and coming up with stories about dudes in caves and their shadows and what they were thinking about. But on it's own, it doesn't burst down doors to lots of jobs or anything.

What it has done is teach me a lot about thinking, about how I think and what kind of perspectives I have and how I can change them. Studying philosophy taught me a lot about having an open mind, being able to appreciate lots of differing opinions all at once even if they don't line up with my own. It taught me how to look at my thoughts and beliefs and evaluate what they were based on, strengthen them, even to throw some of them out altogether.

So in the end I think my study in philosophy is invaluable. Well, the value of it is actually about $15,000 in student loans that I have yet to begin to pay back. But who's counting? Say, if a philosophy degree-holder turns tricks in the woods to raise money to pay back her loans, does it make a sound?


Anonymous said...

Depends on the size of the wood.

some jerk

Amanda said...

Did you ever read Sophie's World (not sophie's choice). I am reading it right now, and its basically a philosophy lesson with a mind bending story surrounding it. I'm not necessarily recommending it to you as I'm sure you've had all the philosophy you'll ever need in a lifetime. Just strange timing I suppose.

Thom said...

My financial consultant has a Philosophy degree. He claims it as invaluable in seeing a problem and looking for answers other than the ones presented. Deeper thought that a general finance degree, where you might only see the numbers.

Don't let anyone put you down for educating yourself. You are doing great.

Birdie said...

I'm sort of starting to get spooky past life BFF vibes here. I got my degree in Humanities...It took me 7 years studying everything from music to art to women's studies to film...(I wrote my senior Honor's thesis on the demonization of mothers in 1970's slasher films...yeah.)

Now, my job is the opposite end of the spectrum- all numbers and calculations and balancing accounts. Nothing artsy fartsy about it. And yet, I don't regret earning my degree AT ALL. Knowing that stuff- being able to really look at a painting, dissect a piece of literature, connect themes in a film...those things make me a more interesting person and a better momma to my kid.

I don't think my coworkers understand my background much- it seems weird to them that I am always reading at least 3 books, that I love old movies and that I regularly check out new exhibits at the art museum.

I think that doing that stuff, knowing the stuff I know is, as you say, invaluable and I don't regret the fact that I'm going to be paying off student loans for 10 more years. Much. :)