I remember what summer vacation used to be like.
After my last class, I would open the high school doors to a whole new world. The sun would be beating on my face, a breeze would whip across me and I would relish in the fact that I had three whole months of sunshine, video games and absolutely no expectations.
But this summer I was greeted by factory fumes, dusty floors and disgruntled co-workers.
I picked up a job working at a local car factory. Simply put, if one ever buys a 2013 Dodge Dart, and looks down, I made that carpet, and another carpet after that, and one after that, and another one after that, and repeated the process until my brain fell out of my head.
It was tricky at first, but after a while I learned to re-insert my brain and keep working.
There was a joke I liked to tell from time to time on the job. The first time I told it, I earned a brief chuckle. The results worsened after that.
It went something like this: After someone would foolishly ask me how I liked my job, I would respond with a long drawn out introduction on how as a child, while most kids wanted to be astronauts or athletes, all I wanted to do was make carpets. Then I would emphatically proclaim that I’ve made it, and ponder aloud the question of “what am I going to do with my life now?”
It was clever because no one ideally wanted to be in that factory. What kind of sad man would consider making hundreds of carpets a day his life’s purpose? It also, unknowingly, highlighted the main difference between me and everyone else who worked at the factory, I was the only college kid, and I was getting out.
The majority of employees at my level were men in my age group, who either got in trouble with the law and prohibiting their ability to go to a college, or much more common, earned grades similar to what I got in high school, and weren’t able to afford college in any form because they weren’t as privileged as I was.
Regardless that factory wasn’t something you chose, it was something you were trapped in.
What did I learn from it? I learned how to insert plastic clips into a carpet in a timely matter. I learned how to entertain oneself with only one’s mind for eight whole hours. I learned that the quickest way to fit into a factory crowd was to tell a crude sex joke with a hint of comic violence. But most importantly, I realized how much this college thing really matters.
Going to a college is a chance to obtain a profession that you’re actually passionate about. It gives you the ability to find a career that you would be willing to put in 50 hours a week for.
And with that mindset, a lot of those previously unbearable realities in college become worth it.
Those student math professors who can barely speak English, that excruciatingly annoying roommate who plays the same Lil Wayne song repeatedly for hours, the last-minute project, the caffeine headaches, the all-nighters, the student loans, the hangovers; they aren’t just valuable, they’re necessary.
Because it all boils down to this: I’d much rather be miserable in a white-collar job than a blue-collar job, and that’s a sentiment I believe we all share.