I ran into an ex-coworker and her quite-bigger-than-usual 8-month-old child. She had come into the store to buy some food and to just stop by to say hello to some old friends. After the initial gushing and greeting, I asked her how she was doing. Aside from a bout with post-partum depression and a 40-lb weight gain, she said things were looking better and that she and her baby's father were getting married. They were also planning on moving back to Europe since most of his business was happening there. Plus, on top of it all, she was looking to start a restaurant and it would be easier if they moved to Europe.
I decided to ask her more about her restaurant. She said that since she had invested so much time and energy into her culinary education, she did not want to waste it and wanted to become some kind of chef before she got too old. I told her that it's never too late to start. She said that she felt that it would be a waste of her education to not open a restaurant in the next two years. After a few more minutes of chatting, we said our goodbyes and I went back to work.
As I continued on my daily grind, one thing my ex-coworker said kept coming back to mind. Is it really a waste to not pursue something that you went to school for? Is it truly feasible to study something and only have one singular goal in mind? Or do you start off with a goal and learn about more possibilities as you go along? Isn't it a bit stiffling to just think that you are learning/studying something with the sole goal of say... opening a restaurant? Before 30?
I thought about this more and decided that what bothers me most about my ex-coworker words was how narrow-minded they were. She is only a few years younger than me (actually 30 years old) and for her to think that there is only one use for a culinary education and only worthwhile if that one use is fulfilled early on in life is very limiting. Especially since she claims to be and has always acted so zen and free-thinking. And for her to attach success as achieving a singular goal at an early age puts limits on herself that I used to have and now find unattractive in others.
I have often been asked why I work as a buyer for a grocery store. The answer has always been because I like working with food and like having normal work hours with benefits. The question is normally asked after people find out my educational background. For some reason, my college degree is supposed to dictate what I do in life. Fortunately, I don't have that narrow view on the world. Whenever I get into a discussion with some of my coworkers who are either in school or are going to school, inevitably, I advise them to learn as much as they can in school and, when they graduate, do something that you like to do and do it well, whenever, wherever, and whatever it is.
To me, going to school was all about learning. Learning about the subject I majored in. Learning about other subjects in the world. Learning about interacting with perfect strangers. Learning how to make those perfect strangers your friends and allies. School was always more than just learning how to do something then taking it out into the real world to make a buck. School was about growing up to become a functioning human being who enjoyed life outside and inside of the box. And, thankfully, I can and continue to enjoy life on both sides of those box walls. And without age limits.