Tuesday, 16 February 2010

Get that degree, little girl

Just saw the film An Education. (I'd actually recommend seeing it in the cinema but if you're young and broke just like me, well, I'd actually say it's worth clicking here: http://www.tudou.com/programs/view/v_W8QvZRERM/)

Not going to sum it up here. Though if you haven't seen it, you probably shouldn't be reading this coz you wouldn't know what I'm talking about, so.... go see it! lol

My mother, who gave up her job to be a housewife for years (she's now gone back to work and swears she will never return to being a housewife), said to me countless times:

讀多D書! Make sure you get that degree! No man would want you if you're, well, thick! Not the good ones anyway. But the most most most important thing is, if you don't have that degree, and if you're financially dependent on the man, then you're life is over.

Of course, not having a degree doesn't mean you're thick. Of course, you could (probably) get a job and be financially independent without a degree. And of course, I found it to be so patronising and oversimplifying, and I still do.

But today, I found myself to be saying the same things to Jenny in the film, and I find myself saying the same things to girls younger than me in this note.

I myself went through a similar experience in my first year of university, though I was not going to give up my degree for a more glamourous life (I would have been done it for love, which probably would have been much worse... haha). And the same with Jenny, I actually would have given it all up for a cheating bastard if he hadn't been so heartless that he actually just left. Right then, that killed me. But looking back, I am so glad he did and I got to finish that degree.

I would of course like to live in a different world too, but the fact is, in this one, life is much harder without a uni degree (and if you're going to say to me that people with degrees these days do lead a hard life, well, imagine the lives of people without one). And things are especially difficult for women, not to mention women who have kids to raise.

And even more importantly, yes, of course education is more than just getting a university degree, and getting a uni degree doesn't mean you've learnt anything. But luckily for me, I did philosophy and going through those 3 years in uni really did open up my eyes and change my life. Missing those few years might not just be missing out on the chance of getting a piece of paper which would be helpful to present at a job interview later on in life. You might be missing out on a chance of enlightenment.

And going back to the financial factor, maybe I will end up a bum after I graduate from my masters (which now does not look likely because of all the activism I've taken part in), but at least I had the opportunity to do my masters (and get studentship from the uni every month for it) and I will have the chance to go on to do a PhD and then get a job at a uni after that. That would be/would have been a stable life, at least. A boring one? Maybe. But it's a life of my own.

These day, the life I lead bores me out of my skull . And my mate said to me: "How can you say you lead a boring life? You're going back to report to the police station in a few days for an arrest a couple of weeks back. You get interviewed all the time and you even get followed by the paparazzi!" But I think anyone in my position would know how unbearably boring and irritating all those endless repeated little obligations and "exciting" little events are.

But at the end of the day, would I trade all this - all of this which I'd do anything to get out of - for a life of raising kids for a man who goes out to work to support me instead? NOT A CHANCE.

So unfortunately, now that I'm a little bit older, I'm going to have to do what I swore I would never do - give patronising advise to younger people - but I have to say this:
Don't marry off to someone thinking you're giving it all up to be happy for the rest of your life. GO GET THAT DEGREE FIRST!
I did suddenly remember that there was another point where I thought about quitting uni: I was one semester away from finishing uni, broke as hell, and was backpacking in the Mainland living the most ridiculous life (and I mean that in the best way).

You know there are moments in life where you just think: i can stay here forever. And I just thought: well, there are 2 reasons why I went to uni - to learn and to get that piece of paper. I've already done the first part, but am one semester away from the second part. So walking away wouldn't be too bad.

And looking back, I wouldn't have regretted it really.
So i guess the lesson is not actually about getting that degree necessarily, but just about now planning your life to be dependent on someone else. plan your own life. live for yourself.

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