I came to love learning while in college. Something about the discovery of a format that finally treated me as an adult, separating the pursuit of knowledge from authoritative control, freed me to fall in love with intellectual pursuit.  Said in another way, I discovered only fairly late in life that I am a big fat nerd.

I remember the overwhelming disappointment that I felt when I came to realize that I couldn’t even begin to tap into the enormous body of human ideas in a mere four years.  I was actually saddened by the need to choose just one area within which to specialize.  Although I chose science, I continued to pursue subject matter in the humanities and my search for interdisciplinary courses, guided by my tender adolescent conscience, found me often in the department of environmental studies.

I don’t know if this field  still exists but at the time it was a fledgling, piecemeal discipline.  Much of the subject matter focused on shedding light on the dire nature of the environment problems that modern life had produced: pollution, global warming, waning species diversity, etc.  It was a bleak picture indeed.

I found the classes to be frustratingly incomplete.  What on earth is the point of spending so much time to understand problems without spending any time on possible solutions? I remember the unspoken pleas from many of my fellow students: please tell me how to become a good steward of the earth without disappointing my parents, who happen to be paying a lot of money for this education!

I mistakenly believed myself to be more sophisticated.  I often flaunted my freshly minted cynicism in search of camaraderie with my professors. In hindsight, I was an arrogant butt-head.  I saw my scrappy upbringing as a blessing, one that might permit me to shed societal expectations more easily than my classmates.  I realized that I couldn’t easily “change the world” but damned if I would be conformed into the bourgeois consumer lifestyle that was condemning all of us to fry in our own petroleum.


Fast forward a decade and a half or so and here I sit, just another middle class, fossil-fuel junkie, tied to her relatively new computer.   Strangely, I feel good about my choice to become a full time mom, at least in the short term.  From the perspective of footprints, it’s a perfectly virtuous career choice, although I’m sure that I would have scoffed at the idea with full lung strength way back then.  Nevertheless, it is highly likely that I will only have one child and I am bold enough to hope that he will eventually grow older and far less needy.  I will need to engage myself in the world outside of this apartment once again.  There are still real choices to be made and I still believe that I can make them meaningful.

I feel my grown-up self projecting back to those classrooms of yesteryear and pleading to my professors: how on earth do I find something positive to do with myself that still allows me to contribute to my families finances?

What on earth should I do when I grow up?


5 thoughts on “Homeostasis

    1. You know, it occurred to me that this uncertainty keeps us young. After all, our future’s are still wide open!

      Your recent post has been making waves. I think it’s fantastic! I know blogs are for many things but the community building aspect is wonderful.

  1. eep6

    You know, I think this is a dilemma today’s college students face all the time – and as much as I love and believe in the liberal arts tradition, in which I too was educated, I do understand the shift towards more “vocation”-oriented majors and programs.

    I think about environmental issues with respect to my kids and their future/s all the time… wondering about disappearing coral reefs, for example, and will they ever have the chance to go snorkeling? Bright, sunny thoughts like that.

    Love your header, by the way 🙂

  2. Thanks eep!
    I guess that, in looking forward, I’m trying to recapture some of that old can-do spirit from my 20’s.

    I remain torn about the liberal arts. On the one hand, I think it’s a great model since high school is fairly inadequate in providing the basics. On the other hand, this usually means that grad school is required in order to be ready for the job market and that’s not always, erm, practical.

  3. Boy howdy. I have to attend all these undergraduate recruitment events where I attempt to sell kids on my department, and their parents invariably ask what the kid will do after graduation. I do a little dance between honesty and marketing. The BA is useless! But my (interdisciplinary) department is better than some! And yes, she will get into a top med school with a degree in my field! I feel so lucky that I was able to pursue my dreams, practicality be dammed, and have it work out. I mean, I have a BA in LINGUISTICS. It doesn’t get more useless than that…

    And now I think about tossing it all and staying home with Bun Bun. And so I too wonder what I’d be when I grew up, were I to make this choice. Your post makes me think it might be an opportunity for reinvention, in an exciting way, rather than just depression…

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