I'm-Not-Using-My-Degree,-And-That's-Okay

I’m sure with many travelers, and even those that don’t travel that this will be relatable. You got your fancy piece of paper and wore a funny hat and gown as you walked across a stage smiling. You had an after party and were excited for your future and then suddenly real life dawned on you.

You got a little intimated or you realized that the fancy piece of paper you now have is the only thing you have to show of your achievements over the past 4 years (give or take).

Let me tell you that you’re not alone.

I used to be a great student. I loved school, I was good at it, I was smart, I was a hard worker (actually I still all of these!). I got good grades and handed in everything on time. And then I stopped loving school. During my final year of film school I stopped caring about how good my grades were as long as I passed. I just wanted my degree and to get out of school. I was over it.

In my final semester I failed my first ever test because I was careless. I skipped an 8AM class because I was hung over on a Friday (I always said Thursdays were the new Fridays) and then the next week I took off from school and had a week in the sand and sun in Punta Cana. Two weeks later I showed up about 5 minutes late to find everyone with their heads down staring at paper. I had no idea there was even a test. It was multiple choice but I failed epically (23%…). I started to panic that this would bring down my mark and I would fail the class, which would mean that I would be short an elective that I needed in order to graduate.

I was fine. My other marks in the class were luckily good enough that I passed the class no problem. But what I didn’t realize from this event was that it was a hint towards my future, that I didn’t care about my degree as much as I could.

I once had a conversation with a lady who had a daughter that was the same age as me, 23. She talked about how proud she was to have her daughter in school earning a degree because that’s not something that everyone in her day got to do.

It got me thinking about how much has changed. Should I be caring more about my degree?

Today people say that the bachelor’s degree is the new high school diploma. It’s so common for people to have it that it almost means nothing. Especially in a country like Canada, the second most educated country in the world (after Russia). You need experience, not a piece of paper. And almost no one has experience when they leave school.

Graduation

What was I supposed to do? Go back to school, spend more money so I could have another fancy piece of paper? That’s what some people do. But it wasn’t for me.

Once I was done school I had no real drive to get into the industry. I’ll admit, I was definitely intimidated by the film industry and started questioning whether I wanted to work it in. It’s a tough business.

So I saved up and went traveling instead. And I found what makes me happiest. I discovered a new side to myself and I loved it.

I told myself that when I came back I would start applying for jobs in my industry. That didn’t happen. I looked, but jobs were hard to find. Any job was hard to find. But I did get one job offer from a large company to talk on the phone all day selling a product. I knew I was going to be miserable so I declined.

Now I’m in Thailand teaching, which has absolutely nothing to do with my degree in film and media production, but I couldn’t have gotten this job without my degree (you need some kind of degree in order to be a teacher in Thailand).

Teaching

Am I using my degree? No, not at all. Am I using the years of education that I got in college? No. But I’m using the life lessons that I learned while I moved away from home for school. I’m keeping in touch with the good friends I made during those four years. I’m using my media “skills” to create this blog and do something that I enjoy doing.

So is all that money a complete waste? I don’t think so. I still learned invaluable lessons while I was in school. I don’t regret going to college straight out of high school, and I don’t regret not pursuing a career in my field immediately. I look at some of my friends and the jobs that they have and I cringe, not because they’re not good jobs, but because I’m not ready. I’m not interested.

One day I may use my degree to help me get a job in film, or I may never use it. But I will never consider my degree a waste. I’m not using it, but that’s okay. Instead I’m doing what makes me happy. And if I’m going to let a fancy piece of paper hold me back from doing what I like the most, then I’m not living for me, I’m living for that piece of paper.

Please note that I am telling myself that it’s okay to not be using my degree. I’m not letting society, or my parents, or anyone else tell me that I should feel bad for not using it. I really have no idea about what my parents think, but make your own choices and don’t ever feel bad for them.

What do you think?