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"But...But, It's the Sinciple of the Thing..."

So the Soapbox is late. You shouldn't expect more out of me. Late for you is on time for me. If I publish a new Soapbox on a Sunday, I'm early and you should be surprised. "Is that boy smoking a joint or something? It's only Sunday!" The cushy thing is that I can get away with it, seeing how the Soapbox has such a cult following. I mess up dates on documents and no one even notices! Don't get me wrong -- that's how I want it.

What was I talking about? How cute Renee Zellweger is? How much I disagree with Anselm? How good the bed is looking at 1 AM in the morning? Hmm, no...oh wait. Ah yes, I was going to bitch about people advancing faster in life than I am. Nothing like a random clarity of mind to get you back on topic.

...

I'm not so lucky to be placed in such a situation as his. Heck, I'll probably end up flipping hamburgers somewhere, brooding and seething with angst as I prepare a sloppy ketchup-and-lettuce-and-something-grainy- tanned-color Big Mac for some mindless customer. But what if things were different...?

My roommate and I know of someone who has quite unusual circumstances in their life, pulling in a near six-digit salary with one of the premiere companies in the country. And that person's approximately the same age as we are! Damn!

It's times like these that make me wonder if I had the power at any point in my life to be a child phenom, to start a successful career in sports or business or whatever (Doogie Howser was a punk). It raises the interesting question of what I would do if I were ever placed in the situation so early in my life that I'd have to choose between two very important things.

For children, the targetted age group here, the most likely conflict would be between getting an education and making a fantastic and almost disgusting amount of money. Would I forego my high school or college education if I were offered a contract to play professional tennis or to work at a prestigious computing company? I'm still not sure, and won't be sure, no matter how I conclude this essay.

On one hand, I'd be making a phenomenal starting salary and would be able to support myself. And yes yes, screw the spiritual crap. I'd have a great car, a nice place to live in, and all the other perks that come along with a large salary. I would obviously enjoy the job I got hired to do, since there's no way to have the sort of training required unless I did it as a hobby. So I'd be able to expand my skills and experience in the area I was enamored with. And if the company was famous, I'd have instant recognition. I wouldn't have to prove myself to as many people -- I'd be able to just do my job how I think it should be done. Very comfortable, getting paid to do what you love. Profoundly tempting.

And let us not forget the whole amazement which comes with being hired for such a job in the first place. That has got to be a tremendous confidence booster, when someone thinks that highly of you.

But, for people specifically like me, who are in college to learn, and not so much just to get a job, the absence of a completed education would be similar to the feeling of having a 'phantom limb', a limb that's missing but still feels like it's there.

If I took a high-paying job as a teen, I would have to either postpone or skip a college education. I'm not sure if I'd be able to take the torment of missing out on college. I would be comfortable as an individual financially, but I'd have the lingering doubt. I'd wonder if I should have gotten a degree while learning about various things in the world, then look for a great job. I guess you could set the feelings equal to those of guilt of cheating on one's spouse. I would feel like I've cheated on my intelligence, on my education.

But that is me. I like to learn. I like school. Not everyone goes to school for the same reasons I do, and there's certainly nothing wrong with that, especially in this day and age, as many fields are highly specialized.

I turned down a pretty impressive job offer because I elected to finish my years at UT Austin. Man, I would have loved that job. But first things first. I think I'd be able to live with less money, but not with the guilt that my mind could come up with. I'd think the trash my brain comes up to make me suffer would kill small animals and even medium-sized game. That much guilt.

Hmm, guilt for skipping out on education. Sounds like remorse for committing a sin. Not quite a sin, but I do place abnormal importance in getting a good education, one as good as possible. I want to be able to think about complex things, provide more comprehensive arguments, and communicate in writing to authors who are already dead. To go against this would be to go against myself and my nature. It would be sinful, according to the mental Bible to the Holy Figure, Benjamin.

So that's my decision, I suppose. Education first. Then the world. Heh. That's what I think is best for me. For me. Friends I have talked to about the very same issue have done a good job in reminding me of others' points of view, however. Not everyone is interested in what I am. They have different goals of life, which are just as noble and perhaps even more so. They believe that every opportunity in life should be seized fairly, and you shouldn't get picky with life. And if you have that much talent as to be picked up by a famous company, why not go for it? That's what you love to do and are amazingly good at -- cash in! So basically, the factors behind accepting the job are comfort, cash, and survival. I don't really find a problem with this if that's what someone wants to do. One could save his earnings and quit his job to continue college classes with plenty of money tucked away. That to me sounds like a very strong path for the future. But not one I can personally involve myself with.

So I have come to the decision that there's no obvious solution to whether someone should take a high-paying job over an education. It really depends on the individual's circumstances or expectations. There's no perfect answer (that's why everyone's always thinking about it).

And in accepting that you'll never find an answer beyond your own opinion, you are free to consider other things in life, like deciding to get off your ass and hone your skills to such a point that you will have no problem finding a high-paying job in your youth.

Good to remember, even for me. The kids are catching up, and I need to stay up ahead of my competition. There's money involved too, dammit!

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