Thursday, 10 December 2015

But That is Real Life, Honey -or- Stop Your Whining, Valedictorian
You don't see successful clip artist
Philip Martin whining about his education.
It is the end of the school year here in Australia and I've got a young graduate. Yay. She's done well and aims to keep doing well in the continuation of her education.

Recently I saw a few links to valedictorian speeches come through one of my social media scrolls. Every once in a while you find a brilliant speech (wear sunscreen). However, most tend to be the usual inspirational claptrap full of cliches and then there's the requisite "trying to be different but really just venting" angry ones.

One particular speech caught my attention. It was one of the latter. In this valid-dictator-ial speech  (which I will not be linking to because she doesn't need the additional audience), she whined about the fact that the only reason she was valedictorian was because she got really good at completing assignments and taking tests. She said she didn't get a real education but merely learned how to play the system.

Guess what, honey, you did get an education! You got a brilliant preparation for what the 99% call "The Real World". (Granted, you are from the American Empire, who failed to upgrade their educational and medical systems sufficiently during their evolution, and that does give you a disadvantage compared to the rest of the First World. Heck, it might give you a disadvantage compared to certain parts of the Third World.)

But yeah. Real Life in the Adult World is all about playing the system. I don't know what sort of job/career you were planning on, but I can guarantee you pretty much all of them involve completing assignments (ie meeting sales targets, adhering to guidelines, upholding service catalogues, quality control, etc) and taking tests (delivering a satisfactory product and/or service).

It doesn't matter what field you're in. Accountant?  Better get your maths correct. Fast food worker? Better meet quality control targets. Ballet dancer? Precision and focus are mandatory. Scientist? Professional development is an ongoing thing. Secretary? Speed and accuracy. Attorney? Research and fact memorisation. Author? Self-starter skills and long hours of repetitive tasks.

Whatever it was you were thinking you failed to learn in your mastery of assignments and test-taking, that sort of stuff doesn't come along until after you've gained practical experience in the entry levels. Creative Consultants, Decision Makers, CEOs... none of this stuff will come to you for at least another twenty years. Stop worrying that you're not ready now.

So if you were looking for something that would "tap into your potential" because "we can do anything we want" and "the sky's the limit" and all the other cliches with which your valedictory speeches are rife, you're in for a dreadful surprise.  There is absolutely no difference between your teacher telling you "Your fifteen questions on page 87 are due on Monday" and your manager telling you "I need this spreadsheet analysis done by Monday."

The only two differences you will find between an education and a day job is this:  When you do your job well (ie complete your assignments and get a good grade), you get paid. When you  don't do your job well (ie keep failing your tests), there's a good chance you can get fired.

Welcome to the Real Life in the Adult World, padowan. Let's see if you can keep up with the big dogs.  Oh, and I need that spreadsheet analysis done by Monday.

Her Grace, who has a BA in Music and Film from the UofU, a CertGr6  in Piano from AMEB, an MFA in Creative Writing and a PhD in OB-GYN from SoHK and soon to have a MSc in Astronomy from SwinU.  All this wouldn't have happened if it wasn't for the support of a Day Job full of assignments and tests.

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