Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Why money sucks or (the gap between ambition and results)

Fear not! This is not a rant against capitalism or an advocacy for a handout. However, it is a commentary on an unfortunate necessity of turning ambition into results. College is expensive, for a variety of reasons, and someone has to pay for it. The government would like to, not really, but they have a massive federal debt and economic crisis to handle. As a result, dear old mom and dad, unless you have rich grandparents, end up footing the bill. Although some parents aren't committed to advancement, and mandate that their son or daughter pay the whole thing. This is absurd, especially if the individual is attending an expensive institution, but that's for another day. As a result, many are forced to sacrifice ambition for 'so-called' results. This is the side of college that doesn't get much attention in Time or on cnn.com. I'm going to attempt to examine my title and see why it rings true.

Money does suck. Having it creates opportunity while decreasing true joy. The rich aren't happy, they're miserable. Why? Mainly, because people forget to live when they can pay not to. The average American works every day, at a job he or she don't entirely enjoy, in order to live a reasonably satisfying existence. Those with large amounts of wealth work sometimes, being on Oprah or having conferences in Maui don't count, and live opulently with their things as comfort. Without struggle there can be no satisfaction, because when you get everything you've wanted, what then? This is post college, but what about in college? Well, unfortunately universities are conditioning their students to embrace monotonous, low paying jobs as satisfying in preparation for later 'cash cow' careers. It isn't exactly revolutionary, but these jobs suck. Taking classes is far more important than a pay check or so-called experience in an unrelated field. Sadly, many believe that having free time during the day is somehow wrong or lazy. It isn't. From 25 until 60, except for the very wealthy, a perk of cashing in on being in charge rather than subordinate, everyone will work some variety of an 8-5 type job. Some more hours, or at different times, others may even work far less. The point is this is the last measure of freedom, an opportunity to learn rather than follow orders and attend meetings about nothing. Working just for the sake of money is pointless, to buy what or pay for what? Work study jobs are just loans in another form. It's the university's way to get students to perform crappy, boring, rote jobs so they can 'pay' them less than if they hired someone in the work force. Think about it, you get paid barely above minimum wage and the money is intended to go to your total bill. If you go spend it, the university tacks that on to your bill and makes you pay the difference of what you didn't use from the work study. The word scam is appropriate. Additionally, other than food, supplies, and vanity purchases what do we need money for? Health insurance. Nope. How about electric, sewer, or heating? Negative. Property taxes? I don't think so. Our children? I'm hoping no one has this to worry about. Mortgage payment? No way. The list goes on, but you get my point. No one truly needs a job while at college, except in a few select instances. Those who live off campus do have to pay some of the mentioned things, and most likely need the extra cash flow. Also, if your parents are poor or just cheap and unhelpful you also need to work. I'm sure there are a couple more, although I'm drawing a blank at the moment. Unfortunately, for those of us with ambition, not those just interested in having money, there is a need for cash. This need is study abroad and affiliated programs.

I can't think of something I would like to do more than study abroad. Well, that isn't true, but I'm not going to put anything I'd rather do more on here. Anyway, unfortunately these programs are usually expensive. My parents aren't loaded, so my options in this area are rather limited. I could work for the money, but a poor paying campus job isn't going to get me anywhere close to what I need. Working over the summer isn't an option, because this money is already going for books and other related expenses. I could look for aid, which usually is hard to find. Also, most people are cheap and are uninterested in helping you leave the country to 'site-see.' So what can be done? This is where the gap between ambition and results kicks in. The ambition is there, but the results are lacking. I feel unaccomplished and lazy. I'm never what I would call 'busy,' I've never pulled an all-nighter to write a paper or study, and I don't volunteer if I don't have to. Yes, I know if it's mandatory it isn't volunteering. Regardless, it isn't that I'm apathetic. I care deeply, I just don't like commitment specifically the kind that requires time of a mandatory nature. 'Extra-curricular activities should be in addition to class, not an extension or equal with them. Having terrible time management or not being able to say no magnifies the problem. If finishing assignments is a problem, because of outside the classroom activities, then quit them. You pay to go to class not to feed the children in Africa. It isn't that the cause isn't noble, it's just that failing out of college isn't going to help you or help anyone else either. If you want to truly help: go to the people. Sending money and raising awareness doesn't do anything if no one goes to where help is needed or the money never gets there. I want to go somewhere and help, but until I see some of the world I'm not going to know where I'm needed. Every Italian wants to go to Italy, and girls love Paris, but what about those people in the other 200+ countries? The ambition is here, not the money, and certainly not the results. Yes, it takes money to produce results unfortunately. There is no greater feeling than the feeling of helping someone truly in need. That's why I can't do it here. America is selfish, I feel no spirit of compassion towards the 'suffering' in this country. They've had an opportunity, or at least the opportunity to get help and find opportunity, but those over-seas have not. I don't want to be part of a self-righteous frat, go sing at a nursing home, or make Pitt green-friendly. Sorry, but I don't. I do want to be a part of democracy in a former dictatorship, enable a child to go to school instead of work, or lead the lost to salvation. However, right now I'm stuck ambitious without results. I could be doing so much more, I know that. It wouldn't kill me to volunteer, get a job, or take a heavier course load. But it won't get me any closer to being a part of the solution either. It just looks good on a resume, tells everyone how involved you were, and what a good person you are. Maybe you are, or maybe you're just self-serving. Maybe constantly being busy is a charade you maintain to hide unhappiness or lack of fulfillment. Maybe you can't take free-time, because you've been conditioned that time=money, and you're a failure if you stop, slow down, or ease up. Maybe you want to be busy to compete with your peers, maybe being able to complain makes you feel like you fit in, or you've convinced yourself that using 'volunteerism' to further your own ambitions is noble. Maybe you've been guilted into it, maybe you think God wants you to prove yourself to him. Maybe you hold everyone who doesn't think like you in contempt, maybe you schedule things so rigidly because if decisions were left up to you you couldn't make them. Maybe you hate free time, because you can't handle the thought of not being engaged, maybe you think you can solve the world's problems and get everything in your life in order if you try hard enough. Maybe you actually enjoy everything you do, but I highly doubt it. I often wonder what would happen if my effort matched my ambition. I'm sure the results would be there, but would they be mine or God's? Are you doing God's work or your own? If it's for you, you'll always feel somewhat hollow. But don't worry the money, prestige, or praise can fill up that hole. I leave my schedule open, so that God can put some of his time in. Yet, there's still a gap between ambition and results. I am a failure. The truth hurts.

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