Boy, do I have some Tales to Tell...
Wednesday, June 07, 2006
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.

Oh, honey. When are you going to learn that a life outside the box is a life not worth living?
"He who reaches the end of a road needs it no longer, and the raod is not given to him anymore. But those around him thought differently."

--Milorad Pavic, 'Dictionary of the Khazars'

Personally, I think that sometimes, the dream changes, and that's life.
If I had done what I studied in college, I'd be trapped in a lab somewhere or worse... in China! :) I certainly wouldn't be guiding tourists around 2 continents & living my international playa lifestyle jajaja

Your ex-coworker hasn't explored all the options obviously... she could be a food critic, write a cookbook, open a b&b, etc. I think that every choice (career related or no) leads you in a certain direction & if you let your conscious guide you, you can't go wrong. Now I wish I make the student loan people believe that. (B.S. in Biochem, B.A. in Asian History, M.A. in Chinese Studies)
I agree wholeheartedly with what you're saying. I remember when I was doing my bachelors degree, just before we finished and one of the class asked our lecturer (in the pub) what he should do with his qualification. The lecturer, an exceptional man, in his 60s, simply said that he didn't believe there was any such thing as a qualification, only an education. He followed with 'an education, the greatest investment anyone can ever make, simply allows us to do whatever we really want to do'. A few hours later, and after many many drinks, he turned to us again and told us to remember that nobody knows the rules yet, the only thing that can hold us back was our own lack of imagination.
If anything, I wish I had taken a year off between high school and college. I think I went into college focusing on one goal, and even when I realized that I no longer was interested in that, it really was too late to start over in college (unless i wanted to stay an extra year). I've come to learn, like you, that school was more about developing real-life experiences for myself and helping me form the opinions and thoughts that make me who I am.
Oh and I didn't realize you were a food buyer for Whole Foods. A request: can you get Mizuna? ;-)
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I'm just writing down some of the things that run through my head.

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Location: New York, New York, United States

Eating up the City before it eats me up. I'm a freelance cook who spends his free time working out, cooking for "my man", and wondering why the Right is so concerned about my bedroom.

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