Skepticism

Afternoon Inqusition 6.2

This past weekend two of my family members graduated;  one from high school, one from college.  Talking with them, it struck me how ready they were to tackle what comes next. How fearless.  I get that graduation is transitional like that, but it was still inspiring.  Made me think back to my college graduation, back when I still thought I’d grow up to be a chef or an over-the-road trucker (multiple undergrad degrees be damned!)*

If you could re-live your high school or college graduation, where would you go from there?  What would you grow up to be?  What things to you cherish, and what things could you let go? Would you do it all over again?

*Despite me being 100% certain I wanted one or the other of these, I have never worked as a chef, and am a terrible driver who does not even know all the words to Convoy.

a.real.girl

A B Kovacs is the Director of Døøm at Empty Set Entertainment, a publishing company she co-founded with critical thinker and fiction author Scott Sigler. She considers herself a “Creative Adjacent” — helping creative people be more productive and prolific by managing the logistics of Making for the masses. She's a science nerd, a rabid movie geek, and an unrepentantly voracious reader. She doesn't like chocolate all that much.

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44 Comments

  1. I’m pretty happy with where I am right now however I would have liked to have taken a different route to get here (and done so sooner). I wish I had realized how unrealistic my goals were then and gone to a small state college instead of the expensive school I chose and actually have finished a degree.

  2. I’m content where I am in graduate school, but as with Noadi, I’d have taken a different path to get here. Well, not so much a different path, but I’d have stayed on the path better. As I *did* go to a small state college, which worked wonders for me getting out with under $10,000 in student loans.

    Doing it over again, I would’ve been better prepared and more focused on what I was going to do, and more careful in how I managed my class load so I could’ve kept up a 4.0 GPA the whole way through, rather than calculus curbstomping me my junior year.

  3. When I graduated High school, I was still involved in a fundamentalist sect that didn’t believe in college; that is until the ‘elder’s’ kids graduated and they decided it might be prudent for them to go. Instead, we were told that the world was going to end in armageddon very soon (we were living in the last days) and the knowledge of this world would be useless.
    So dozens of my friends didn’t ever go to college, or even finish HS for that matter. Sad really. I went to a community college, despite being told I didn’t have enough faith. At least that experience started me on the path to agnosticism, and later, to agnostic atheism.
    If I had to do it over, I would have told my church to go fuck themselves, and go to whatever college I wanted. I would have majored in Physics instead of Computer Science and possibly considered a teaching gig. Oh well, c’est la vie.

  4. I’d have immediately done pre-med. I had no idea that I could be an M.D. It wasn’t even a twinkle. I loved medical science but hated math and therefore completely counted myself out. I seriously thought about going back a few years ago but I decided to buy a house instead.

  5. I would not have gone to my college graduation, because it POURED through the entire thing and apparently, according to the president of the university, “they don’t make tents that big” (to cover the ceremony and attendees). Well, as my father-in-law-to-be told him flat-out, “they do in New York.”

    That said, I would have been a pathologist.

  6. I don’t know… I still haven’t finished college because I still don’t know what I want to do. Every time I took a new course, I had a new passion for that subject that made me SURE that was what my major should be.

    I started college as a music major… I really do wish I would have completed that, though. Even if it meant I was still going back and/or floundering around trying to find my place in the world of grown ups.

    Not having a degree at all has been a pretty major obstacle for me.

  7. If I could change the course at High School graduation I would have gone into the Air Force and let them pay for my school. It would have given me sometime to mature and I would have gotten away from home which would have been good for me.

  8. Essentially my time in HS, my undergrad and graduate education were all the same: “what can I do that I’m good at”? That might seem sensible, but, in retrospect, it might have been better to pursue the things that were a struggle for me.
    Also, thanks in part to SkepChick and the other pro-science media sources I devour, I also wish I had simply taken more science classes.
    As an undergrad, I was majoring in journalism for about two semesters. THAT plan went nowhere. IF I had been able to see that journalism was a terrible fit for me and IF I had recognized how great science would be, I think I would have been better served by my college dollars.
    It’s not all regrets: I got to study in Germany for a year as an undergrad and I was very successful as a grad student. I’m very glad I didn’t study computer science; I think those skills are better learned “on the job”.

  9. Stay in college, finish it, become an engineer, or a scientist.

    Everyone tells me I’m too intelligent to be where I am now, and, yeah, I kinda agree with them. In the grand scheme of things, I’m not as bad off as I could be, but I think when compared to what I COULD be, I kinda missed the boat.

  10. Great minds think alike! When I was about to graduate from college I was also convinced that I would end up becoming an over-the-road trucker. Two years later, after I had finally saved up the necessary money for the lessons I’d need to get a license, a much better job in my chosen field fell into my lap.

    So, at the moment, I suppose I wouldn’t change anything. But it’s only been four years since I graduated, maybe I’ll feel differently in another ten or so? For now I’m content to simply imagine that there’s a version of myself in an alternate universe living out his dream of freedom on the open road.

  11. I would have to rewind to elementary school to make any difference. (I’m only seventeen.) If I had changed schools when I got into the private Montessori school by lottery partway through elementary school. If I had gone to the expensive private school for middle and high school instead of public school. if, if, if. If I had, I might not be a burned out dropout with a GED at seventeen, completely soured on the entire educational system.

    Then again, the sequence of events that led to me meeting my fiancé online wouldn’t have happened, so I’m okay with not being able to go back and change it all. He’s worth far more than the possibility I could be an academic.

  12. Things may not have gone according to plan (assuming there was a plan) and “mistakes were made” but, overall, things turned out OK. If I had to do it all over again, I might make different choices but there’s no guarantee that things would be any better or worse that they are now.

    And, yeah I’ve got to agree with marilove, there’s almost nothing that would convince me to relive that period of life. OK, well, maybe a list of the closing prices of some key stocks for the intervening years. That might do it.

  13. @Steve:

    I might make different choices but there’s no guarantee that things would be any better or worse that they are now.

    Basically! What’s to say you’ll make your life horrible if you go back and change a few things?

  14. I think it’s interesting that some comments on here lead me to believe a few of us didn’t have much in the way of “cheerleaders” for parents. I am a 3rd child and the the only college graduate. I basically did the whole shabang on my own, I think my pops kicked down a bit of cash for oh, maybe one sememster. As it turns out, I tripped into a first career and careened into my 2nd one (pharmacist). I have been lucky as hell – I don’t think I ever formulated a masterplan. I just had come interesting possibilities come up and I said – what the hell. I feel disgustingly lucky to be where and what I am (until I read a goddam article of some dumbshit pharmacists who won’t give out certain pills because it offends their delicate *religious* sensibilities) Otherwise, good as gold.

  15. Hmmm if I had to do college over I’d probably have a lot more sex, not get married and go on for my masters. Then get married. I love my husband but marrying him is what stopped me from getting a masters.

  16. I just graduated from university a year ago…when they handed me my diploma I was like what the hell am I gonna do now? The job I have now I love, it’s completely unrelated to my history/anthropology degree, but I was really only in school because I loved to learn.

    I don’t really have any job ambitions like “what do you want to be when you grow up”…what I want to be is a mom and I want to travel and I want adventure…as long as I’m happy with my job and it pays the bills that’s fine by me, I get me enjoyment outside of the office.

    If I had to do it all over again though I would have taken highschool physics and gone into astronomy :)

  17. I’m tempted to say that I’d skip the whole university degree thing and go straight to technical school to learn ultrasound. Then I’d be at the same place except a lot less poor.

    But the bachelor degree was actually worth doing, I think. I don’t think I’d be as able to do the program I’m in now if I hadn’t had the experience of doing an undergrad, graduating with mediocre (for me, anyway) marks, and struggling to find a job, any job. I take school much more seriously because of it, and I think I appreciate the being where I am more.

  18. Assuming I get retroactive precognitive foresight, I would have accepted I would have made a lousy writer, gone to art school, and ultimately become a visual artist and animator.

    (Basically, what I’m doing now, only a lot better at it and without the whole messy 1990s getting in the way.)

  19. If I had it to do over again, I’d basically follow the same path that I did.

    I decided at the age of 13 that I wanted to be a scientist. It’s now 30 years later, after 4 years of college, 7 years of grad school, 5 years of post-doc’ing, and 10 years of professional employment as a physicist/engineer. I love my job as much now as I did the day I started. I cannot think of anything I would enjoy doing more than what I do every day!

  20. Part of me wishes I’d left home to go to university. My convocation is in two weeks and I’ve spent a total of eight months not living with my parents in the five years since grade 12. On the other hand, I’m graduating with no debt.
    I don’t wish I’d had more sex, exactly, but I dated one person from the end of first year up until now, and then we split. I kind of wish I’d dated more people, especially since I didn’t have any significant others in high school. My ex and I got together and stayed together because we had amazing chemistry, and I don’t regret the relationship – it’s just that I don’t really know how to make a connection with somebody if it doesn’t click instantly, which I think I might have been forced to learn if he and I hadn’t met so early on.
    But, I am glad to be graduating with a degree in my chosen fields, so if I could go back and change things, I probably wouldn’t.

  21. I’m in university right now, as a soon-to-be senior biology major who is unsure exactly where he’s going, so we’ll see whether I regret the choice I make later :D

    As for high school, I sympathize with Marilove and others who wonder why they would ever want to relive such horrors :P I want to think I at least learned a lot of useful ways about how not to be from the whole thing.

  22. I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made, however, if I could do it over, knowing what I know now, I would do one of the two things: pursue my childhood dream of being a paleontologist ( I really wanted to dig up dinosaurs) or pursue my current interest of becoming a librarian. Either way, if I hadn’t been messing around in my college years, I’d have a well established career by now instead of trying to start one.

  23. I’m going to live up (down?) to my avatar on this one.

    This is an especially poignant question for me right now, as I seem to have hit my so-called “midlife crisis” at 51. Just like me, well behind my peers in many things. Of course, if this is truly my midlife, I should live to be 102!

    The answers below assume that I would keep the knowledge that I have now, especially the self-knowledge.

    I would have run away from the fundie church scene like I was on fire.

    I would have worked on trying to have a social life and maybe even try out sex before marriage. (!!!) Assuming I had the opportunity.

    I think I might have gone into the Air Force and gotten the GI Bill to pay for college.

    I would have persisted in my dream to be a professional pilot.

    I would not have married as early as I did.

    I would have tried to get counseling for my depression earlier (at the time, I didn’t know that I was depressed. I thought everyone felt that life sucked this hard.)

    I’m glad there are people like some above my post that have no regrets. I have a basketful and I need to learn how to get rid of them before they destroy me.

    Ultimately, I have to agree with Steve above: we are all human and there’s no guarantee that life would have been better or worse. Except for the depression treatment part, anyway.

  24. @QuestionAuthority: I would have tried to get counseling for my depression earlier (at the time, I didn’t know that I was depressed. I thought everyone felt that life sucked this hard.)

    ———–

    Couldn’t agree more about the depression. It’s weird how you can go through your whole life wondering how other people cope with their constant desire to suicide without ever thinking that maybe they don’t have a constant desire to suicide, and that maybe that desire has a name, and maybe that name is depression.

    That’s a sign of the stigma of mental illness, I guess.

  25. @sethmanapio:
    You got that right. It runs deep on my mother’s side of the family. Every one of her siblings either had alcohol issues, depression or both. You’d think that it would have been obvious to someone that I needed help. Depression has warped my entire life out of shape, probably beyond repair at my age. Time and youth are running out and too many opportunities were missed or lost.

    My dad is one of those old style Germanic types that would rather keel over than admit either he (or any other family member) needed help. So I paid the price.

    At least my kids know what to watch out for. One doesn’t touch alcohol, just in case.

  26. I’m with Marilove with the whole high school thing. I did it in 3 years just to get the fuck out. I hated that place. However, if I could post high school all over again with the knowledge I have now, I would have definitely lost faith in faith much earlier. I wouldn’t have chosen this Baptist University in Texas with mediocre academics. But, even after graduating with my BA, I still have no idea what I’m going to do. I’ve lost motivation for grad school and now I feel stuck in this tiny, conservative Texas town in which I live. The problem is… I don’t feel I’m exceptionally good at anything to help me get out…. I should just move to Seychelles.

  27. I don’t know. I’m fairly happy where I am today, and unsure of whether I’d end up here if I tried changing things.

    I couldn’t imagine being a teacher when I started uni, or when I left uni, and here I am, very happy with my decision. Also I lucked out on where I live and the greateness of the nearest senior high.

    So if I try to change things, maybe to skip some of the years doing programming and project management, or to get laid more than once every [deleted for security reasons], I’ll end up living elsewhere, have a different job, maybe be less unfulfilled, and, god forbid, I might end up without a camping trip on the French riviera with head skepchick Rebecca (and a couple of other guys ;) ) in my past.

    Not to mention the philosophical question if I’d be able to change all that much if I got to do it again.

    No, I’ll stick with what’s made me me.

  28. @sethmanapio: “Having a lot of sex in college is highly overrated. Personally, I wish I had studied more.”

    And here I was thinking that I wished I had studied sex more, (experimental science you know.. getting a large enough sample size to really make any accurate conclusions can be such a pain). So I would say that I agree with both you and Pinkbunny

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