To My Students Out There, Be Better.

I did ask for this. Although, I did not ask for all aspect of this. No one told me once I graduated college I’d need to meet certain expectations. I knew I’d have to pay student loans back, I knew I’d have to find a high paying job. However, no one warned me of the intricately, stressful expectations I’d have to meet as a degree toting adult.

Your hair has to be perfectly flat ironed and tightly wound in a chignon. You have to shop at Dress Barn and New York and Co., and learn how to wear and effectively strut in heels. No one takes an intelligent woman seriously when she arrives in comfortably broken in Converse and a pink and black striped blazer. You must have good posture. No tattoos, no acrylics, no scars, and nose piercings are the devil’s jewelry. No more slang. Full annunciation at all times. Your resume is your story and it must be perfection. They don’t care who you are, your personality is of no consequence to them. All that matters is that piece of paper. You must network with local industry representatives to find a respectable career, not a job. Jobs don’t make you wealthy. Jobs don’t offer respect. Jobs are for dropouts and blue collar citizens with technical certificates.

With the networking comes the schmoozing and brown nosing. You must give it all you have until your face is so far up the CEO’s rectum you can taste the flatbread Panini he/she scarfed down for lunch. You must obtain and maintain a size six waist or less, preferably less. If not, all your co-workers will assume you’ll gobble up all the honey ham along with Meredith’s homemade sugar cookies at the Christmas party before anyone else can lay eyes on them. For that reason, Meredith relocates the food to the conference room by the department manager for monitoring purposes.

You can never text again. Emails are now your sole form of communication, therefore you better have enough money for a laptop. The ultimate laptop. You have to be comfortable wearing a head set. You must be willing to do office work on your off time, especially family time. You must be willing to come in 30 minutes early and stay three hours late. If not, you’re not the candidate your managers assumed you were. You’re not committed to the mission unless you eat, sleep, shit, and breathe quarterly quotas and annual metrics. You must smile and nod in agreement at everything. No “resting bitch face” . You must allow your boss to placate you, disrespect you, demean you. You must go “above and beyond” for the corner office Bob left behind when he transferred to the Phoenix location. You must print the reports, you must review the reports, and you must repeat this process every Monday for the variance meeting. Print, review, repeat. Print . . . review . . . repeat.

You must buy a new pair of heels, since your three inch ten dollar ones are starting to crumble under the pressure. You must purchase a gym membership. The clearance priced workout videos from the thrift store are no longer cutting it now that your skirts have become a steel grip vice for your ass cheeks. Now, you must purchase new pant suits and a dozen little black dresses, since the lack of healthy balanced meals are aiding you in your weight loss.

Now you’ve been promoted. New salary, new title and now a new car. That ’98 Accord isn’t going to last forever. You must train the newbies and the college interns. The ones itching and fidgeting in their discount, polyester suits, praying they make the cut so they’re prepared for the termination of their six month deferment. Their sweaty palms and forced falsified smiles brings back beautiful memories. Now you must host with the most, now you must answer all the questions, now you can bend over, spread ’em wide, and let the brown nosing commence.

No one told me this is the life I should lead as a Bachelor degree toting adult. Had I known in advance that this piece of paper would open up a world of mundane corporate bullshit, I would have took my free Associates and ran. Only kids without car payments, without credit card payments, without federal loan payments can cut and run. Only people who weren’t talked into pursuing a Bachelors degree, can joins Jules and walk the Earth.

I’ll admit, I fell for the scare tactic. The one high school guidance counselors and college recruiters use, coercing students into borrowing thousands of dollars to earn degrees society wants them to obtain. Society wants us to be nurses, teachers, business managers, scientist. Unfortunately, it takes until after the loans have been processed and the degrees have been printed, that we realize we don’t need a degree to survive. I know a woman who could be a biochemist, but she currently sells mortgages. I know someone who could teach mathematics at any high school in the state, but prefers collecting credit card payments.

For me I could have just stopped at my Associates in Communications. During that time I learned a lot of helpful writing techniques from my English teachers and I didn’t pay a dime. After graduation I could have gotten started on my book as opposed to worrying about where my $150 monthly loan payment would come from. Instead, I allowed the promise of five and six figure salaries seep into the cracks of my steel trap mind, poison my common sense, and distract me from the truth. The truth that surrounded me every day outside the walls of my school, which is, any job can lead to a career and can lead to five and six figures as long as you work for it.

Don’t get me wrong, the degree may get you in the door faster, but by no means does it provide job security. If so, thousands of degree toting adults would not be delivering pizzas and ringing up groceries while arguing with the local crazed cat lady about her expired kitty liter coupon. Any academic advisors reading this are probably calling me a cynic, but let’s be real. You and I both know I am undoubtedly correct.

These recruiters and counselors hook you by forcing you into believing your occupation will determine your status in this life. That your degree will elevate you above the crowd of “lowly blue collar employees or homeless city dwellers”. I’m here to tell you, it doesn’t. You can earn all the degrees your heart desires, and you can employee and supervise 1,500 people at the world’s largest Fortune 500 company. You can live in the most expensive five story mansion in Beverly Hills and attend the same parties as Kanye West and Madonna. However, if you distribute nothing but hate and a self righteous attitude upon this world, and if you do nothing but torment and mistreat people, all that knowledge and money you’ve earned is meaningless. People will cringe with disgust at the thought of you and your presence on this Earth will be worthless.

Don’t let people’s expectations turn you into a money chasing, intolerably rude, self hating schnook. Strive for moral excellence. When you wake up every morning look in the mirror and admire yourself. Admire the skin you’re in, admire your waist size, admire your hair (once it’s combed), admire the qualities inside you. Your wit, your humor, your intellect, your charm. Love everything about yourself. Love others. Love the old beater car you drive. As long as it starts when you turn that key, you’re ahead of the game. Love the house the Lord blessed you with to keep you warm and sheltered. Nourish the ground you walk on. Take care of our Earth. Love the job you’re in. Never let anyone diminish your worth solely because your check has one less zero than theirs. Never let your manager treat you like a child especially if you match or beat him/her in age. Demand respect. The title your boss holds by no means indicates they have a hold on you. On the other hand, if you truly hate your job, hell, find another one. Someone, somewhere is always hiring. You are never trapped or stuck. Don’t let anyone stifle you. There are always options and if you can’t see that, then you’re standing in your own way. Surround yourself with empowered people. A wise person once told me “empowered people, empower people”. If the people around you don’t fit the bill, find better replacements. The world is big for a reason, explore it the best way you can.

I’m glad I learned this before it was too late or else I’d be as miserable as the co-workers sitting next to me. Everyday they complain and gripe about their situation. They hate the way they’re treated by management, they lose sleep worrying if they’ll keep their job for one more day.

In our daily meetings I watch my co-worker’s expressions as the manager speaks. A bit of their spirit dies every minute, the more he berates and belittles them. The women complain about their weight, they complain about the heels suffocating their toes and corns. The men complain about the wickedly irritating fabric blend of their button-up. They hate their jobs but afraid of making a change. They believe they have no other options. They ignored and continuously ignore the truth, and now they suffer for it.

Never settle. Be better.


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