I want you to take a second to think about somebody you know who didn’t graduate from college.
Maybe they never wanted to, maybe they weren’t ever able to, maybe they never even enrolled. Regardless, I want you to think about them, please.
Now I want you to think about what they’re doing. Maybe they aren’t scrolling LinkedIN applying for unpaid social media internships or aimlessly existing watching hours of Netflix on end, maybe they are. Maybe they’re working, maybe it’s in a field you wouldn’t ever personally consider. Maybe, without ever realizing it, you’ve been subconsciously judging them for straying from the path in which you found your own success. Hopefully, you aren’t.
I’m not one to lie about the privilege I’ve been given in this life. I am extremely thankful for my background, my friends, my town, my timing. I’m a very strong believer in timing, in chance, in luck. I am lucky, I am grateful. As strong as a believer I am in luck, however, I am tenfold a believer in effort. In faith, in believing in something.
Where am I going with this? I’m going to come out and say it, I don’t believe college is for everyone. I don’t believe everyone should go to college. Oh, and here’s the kicker; I don’t believe people who went to college are any smarter than those who didn’t.
Let that sink in. Now I went to college, graduated with a Marketing Degree, gained understanding of Microsoft Excel, Powerpoint, Google Adwords, Accounting and Finance. I can play with numbers, present large scale ideas with well thought out SMART goals behind them, I can lead, and I can delegate. I can write.
But do you know what I can’t do? Alot.
I can’t build a house. I can’t, really, stop a fire (even if I’ve started it). I know nothing about landscaping, except that I am not, and never will be strong enough to move that equipment or agile enough to operate it in such an intricate manner. I can’t break down and set up town events, I wouldn’t know how to package or un-package those white tents. I can’t memorize a menu of food, let alone take down legible notes in under 3 minutes. I can’t plumb, or tile, or fix a car.
I just simply can’t.
I apply to jobs that utilize the skills I have harnessed throughout the past four years of my undergraduate schooling, and chances are those won’t make me physically any stronger at the end of the day.
But a lot of jobs will.
There’s this quote Einstein used to say (I say in the confidence of somebody who was his friend years ago) about intelligence. Now if you don’t know who Einstein is, he’s this guy who years and years ago discovered matter, energy, and like, force and stuff. Science loves him. He’s probably on one, if not many, of your posters in your dentist’s office.
(sidenote, why do dentists praise him? Have we as a species ever delved into the anthropological reasoning for that?)
Anyway, he’s there. And this is what he said,
“Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on it’s ability to climb a tree, it will live its entire life believing it is stupid.”
And I love it. And I think we should think about it more than every 6 months during our dental cleanings.
See matter, energy, and force can’t really be seen. They influence literally every part of our day to day lives, in almost every aspect, but their behavior is kind of inconspicuous.
Einstein was a smart guy who focused on something people didn’t think twice about. He studied it, worked with it, he picked it to define his passion in a time where people were focused on being passionate about frankly more visible things.
Remember the person, or people, I told you to think about before? Is this starting to make sense now?
I’m tired, frankly, of society glorifying an idea of a singular path for success, because success and it’s definition are if anything individualized, not unanimous. If we all had the same idea of what success was and how to achieve it, we literally would be living in a world that couldn’t function.
Everyone wants to be an actress? Who’s going to make the movies? Who’s going to watch them? Who’s going to make the set? Everyone wants to be a CEO? Well, who’s going to run the day to day operations of the company? Better yet, who is the company even going to target? Who’s going to need them?
If I have learned anything during the past four years of school, it is that my job, whatever it will be, needs people who don’t do the same thing. They are integral, they are important, and they are undervalued.
We live in a complex world, a digital world, an ever changing world. That world relies on us, much like Einstein’s laws, to stay balanced. Each and every one of us has not only a purpose, but a genius – and the real genius in it all is around the fact that not all of our genius’ are the same genius.
We should be more in awe of anyone who’s already on the track of their genius. In turn, we should be thankful that there are enough tracks, and enough differences, for all of us to stay swimming.