I spoke at my children's school a few weeks ago about my college experience to the middle and high school kids. Things have been pretty hectic recently, and the format of the presentation kept changing. At one point, it was going to be just me talking for twenty minute intervals for seventh graders through seniors. Then I was going to be on a parent panel...
Anyway, I had an outline arranged, but I wanted to bring some visual aids. So I found a yearbook (back when my college still had a yearbook) and some copies of the literary magazine. The literary magazine had short stories and poems, but also had paintings and photographs. I think it is a great example of the art, poetry, fiction that were being created at my college.
Flipping through it, I noticed more than a few had paintings of nudes. Back when I was in college, I either was oblivious to this or simply wasn't phased by it.
So of the six or so copies of the magazine, I found two which didn't immediately appear to have nudes or discernible nude paintings. "Success!" I thought. Famous last words!
The panel went well, I talked about my history major and then computer science associate's degree. I talked about how I was able to study abroad and the opportunities I had I might not have had at a larger traditional university. The other people on the panel talked about their journeys through school; how their plans had changed, but how they have ultimately done well in their careers because of their education.
About two thirds of the way through the students, I took a closer look at one of the magazines with a poem on the front cover. The poem I hadn't read closely described a naked pregnant woman "with the seed of many men"; I would not necessarily consider it a fully obscene poem, but probably not completely appropriate. Whoops. The students found the "bad words" in the magazine as well (I hadn't checked for those, and really have a Kurt Vonnegut opinion about those anyway).
Finally, they found a candid shot in the yearbook of two (of the more conservative guys) wearing nothing at all and covering themselves strategically with ping pong paddles. I knew that given middle school and high school, they would look for the unfamiliar (inappropriate art, language, etc.).
I've told a few friends this story (apologies if you've already heard it!). One friend reacted by saying "Aerin, that's so you". I was thinking about that statement. Is that really like me, is this really a typical Aerin story?
I think it is very common for me to do things on the fly, without fully thinking about them. I am not the type of person to be stuck in decision making (ENFJ, just so you know). Another part of me is just not terribly hung up on details. Whenever I'm asked that question in interviews, I hem and haw because while I can be detailed oriented, I'm much more broadly focused. I would much rather get things done than make sure they are perfect. It's just who I am.
So if the presentation had been just me, what I would have said would be, I worked really hard to go to college. I worked really hard while I was in college, and I also had a great time. My senior year of college, my dad was unemployed and I worked two jobs to finish my degree.
I'm really glad I went. Don't listen to the people in your life who tell you you can't go. If you plan it out, if you research and make your decisions based on sound decision making (not where your friends are going, or friends of friends), you'll do fine. It is a great investment, and a good investment in yourself. But just like anything, it's not right for everyone.