Why A Degree Doesn’t Define Us

I was recently struck by a radical thought: Everyone spends college trying to become somebody, without actually focusing on who they already are. 

What do I mean by this? We are given four (okay, maybe five or six) years to attain an undergraduate degree. We strive for 4.0 GPAs, Dean’s List, and acceptance into prestigious honor societies. We spend years answering the question, “What’s your major?” fueled by the belief that once we have a degree, we will actually be able to accomplish something.

But that process, to be frank, is exhausting. I still have three semesters left, and I’m already tired of trying to explain my major to people, and market myself well enough so that I can (hopefully) land a job after graduation. The truth of the matter is that we spend four years trying to become what we assume is a better version of our adult selves. We get a degree because we’ve been told that it’s necessary in modern society. We go to class, push ourselves to be the best, because we believe that will give us validation.

But at the end of the day, if you graduate with a degree, but no passion, are you any better than your eighteen-year-old self? If our end goal is to get a piece of paper, so we become so busy trying to attain this elusive degree, but forget to love well and laugh often: what do we really gain?

This is especially true for those of us who are creative. We are told constantly that we must set aside our art for our studies, because we live in a money-driven culture. But if you loose sight of who you truly are, just to attain a degree you hope will make you happy; won’t you just end up miserable?

I’m not trying to say academics aren’t important. An education is not something we should ever take for granted, and it is the gateway for progress. I feel so fortunate to be able to attend college. I’m just saying that college doesn’t completely define me as a person, and I don’t think it should define you either.

You are more than your degree, your GPA, your academic accolades. You were created with purpose. You are made to laugh, love, cry, and experience a full life. Let’s stop waiting four years to start our adult lives. Let’s start living life to the fullest now.

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