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Monday, January 27, 2014

I Don't Fit in, and I'm Not Sorry

I was  definitely born in the wrong era. I should have been born either forty years earlier or ten years later. Why? I can explain.

Most people born in the late seventies, as I was, were raised in a culture in which going off to college immediately following high school was the norm. So that's what I did. I finished high school, and then I went immediately to college. However, like many 17-18 year olds, I had no clue what I wanted to do with my life. Had I continued to conform at that point, I would have chosen a generic major like "liberal arts" or "women's studies" or "economic equality in third world nations." My degree would have qualified me for exactly two things: flash-frying frozen potatoes, or a life in academia. And given the quality of public secondary education these days, those professions are far more similar than you might think.

But despite being raised with the first generation to truly understand just how much our parents are to blame for our shortcomings, somehow I was brainwashed into the unevolved and unliberated notion that my future was my responsibility. So when others in my class either left school to work retail or struggled through classes they hated for a degree they couldn't use, I signed a contract with the United States Army. And even there I saw the effects of the "blame everyone else" generation. Soldiers, once revered as being made of stronger stuff, were sitting down during ruck marches because "they were tired and their feet hurt." I remember the shocked look on my Drill Sergeant's face when, after a wicked ankle sprain, I got up and finished a run. Kids (and at 20, yes, I was still a kid) were not expected to overcome adversity without blaming someone else, or at least complaining about it. Confession: there was a lot of prayer and a few choice words that went into my getting up and running after that fall.

Flash forward fourteen years, and I am now nearing graduation. After ten years in the Army and the growth of my family, I am finally earning degrees in subjects that interest me and that I can use: political science and history. Both give me an invaluable background upon which to draw in my forays into local grassroots politics.

But I still say that I should have been born forty years earlier or ten years later. Forty years ago, the hard work I was raised to do would have been appreciated or at least accepted as the norm. My choice to raise a family despite having a post-secondary education would not be judged a waste by hipsters with relevancy issues. And my children wouldn't be labeled extremists simply because they were homeschooled and there were more than 1.9 of them.

The ten years later thing was more because it would have been easier on me. I could have simply showed up to class, never taken a test or done a single assignment, and been given a 60% in the class. (Yes, there are schools - public schools - that are now implementing this regulation.) I could have gotten a degree without earning it. I could have popped out a few kids without getting married and had my life financed in full by the suckers who go out and work for a living. I could have let the public school system raise my kids, and even though they would have grown up thinking that the Boston Tea Party was an act of terrorism and Che was a misunderstood hero, I would have had the time to blog every day - but I would have had to write about things I didn't understand.

Excuse me, but I like it better this way. I don't fit in, and I'm not sorry.

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