A Tutorial with Frustration

I often forget that the very act of living is a work-in-progress. Instead, I shuffle myself to the sidelines, where I vicariously watch and learn from others. I dabble in many disciplines, like a country buffet. Perhaps it is to avoid regretful commitments? At the same time, I'm concerned that I remain a wildcard of possible could-haves, rather than actively making choices and learning to work through their repercussions. From them, I would be forced to develop and grow as a person.

Although, inaction is still a choice. Truthfully, I am anxious to speak or write particularly strong opinions on most matters. I do not frequently find myself to be someone who can stubbornly choose a side and justification, and stick with it until the end of days. I am certain that there are subjects in which I am strong about in my stance. But generally, I prefer a more explorative approach to learning and conversation. I detest political discussions that are filled with seemingly purposeful misunderstandings, projections, and neglectful ignorance. There's a kind of arrogance to promote a single “correct” view to a nuanced topic. To do this is to forget the impacts, implications, and flaws of the chosen approach, as it does not exist in a perfect vacuum. I imagine it rather to be like the weather: a chaotic system. There is going to be a catch when executing one's ideal approach. Pitched ideals are safe within a purely conversational vacuum, not when exposed to the raw chaos of the world.

Unfortunately, I find that some “political” conversations do not look to inform and engage with problems with a nuanced approach. Rather it is about being “correct” and “winning” the “argument” as a means of ego-stroking. That said, participation in mature topics can be beneficial as a means of engaging and expanding ones' own perspectives, bringing differing views closer at their crossings.

The root of this anxiety is my own self-doubt in education and knowledge. I have spent most of my life in school, jumping through hoops of assignments, exams, and getting high marks. My days revolved around an established routine that served to “optimize” my performance on these faux-meritocratic metric-oriented systems. Presumably to be rewarded with opportunities and pathways to flourish and enrich my knowledge and abilities further, right? But it didn't seem to pan out that way. Instead what I had gotten was further confusion, disorientation, and alienation in several dimensions. Socially, nothing much has improved and academic performance is far from a core basis of respect. It is more so a means of confirming preexisting positive perceptions or confirming expected flaws in the face of under-performance. Social integration remains far more important and, in many ways, is beneficial when someone doesn't already struggle with inclusion and needing to reaffirm their communal value to receive, at the very least, begrudging social tolerance. Hey, it's one step closer to proper social support, right?

But even casting this aside, the education I have experienced feels sporadic, disjointedly structured, and incomplete. Being told that I have a well-rounded liberal arts education when I couldn't be bothered to truly follow world events let alone what goes on in our local county beyond parroting what my feed is screaming... ...well, that's a bit disingenuous. Perhaps I haven't taken advantage of the privilege that I've been granted as well as I should have? Then I very much lament that I wasn't failed as a student rather than marked as highly performant. Then again, perhaps that wouldn't far off the mark. But my concern, is that although I acknowledge the ways that I find my education to be unsatisfying, I wonder how many have been exhausted or disillusioned with the overall notion of education, even one pursued out of personal curiosity and growth?

It is frustrating when I run into the bounds of my knowledge, especially in matters that I feel are (or should be) fundamental. Whether it's in matters of economics, civics, real estate, basic home maintenance and machinery, crafting and trades, gardening and agriculture... ...practical matters that are handy and likely will stick with you no matter where you go, at least with examples closer to the latter. It is those kinds of skills that are valued and can even to an extent be an art. They are the practical application of some of the theory we learn in school, but we aren't simply cramming to get a nicely laminated paper, rather we get feedback and empirical experience. So why isn't this the basis of widespread institutional learning as it can link theory, application, and social integration all together, rather than creating an uninspiring, soulless, and inefficient prison-factory that's bankrupt of thought and creativity? For the good that can come out of public schooling, I can't give credit to the structure itself as much as the blessed people who work hard within it to provide truly valuable lessons to their students.

It is equally frustrating that entering the workplace, at least in the post-pandemic world, is no less of a mess. I think back on massively multiplayer online games (MMO), and how they have to introduce the world as well as the game mechanics to a new player in a way that is engaging and clear enough to understand the basics. The new player experience is vital to ensure a steady flow of fresh faces to a game whose well-being directly relies on its community. So why on earth isn't the same done for on-boarding in companies (or perhaps on a larger scale socially), let alone providing a more practical reference for everything that a young adult ought to know with a means to evaluate their own present abilities with pathways to becoming more functional in common society? Perhaps parents can only do so much to prepare you for adulthood, and the rest is on you to learn for yourself. There is no handbook on life. But I am not asking for it, as the phrase seems to be uttered derogatorily, implying that you desire to be served everything on a silver platter. No, rather I desire to not have to learn the same bloody systems and lessons prior generations had to puzzle through myself by sifting past the clutter of the Internet, and be given at least a table of contents and page numbers to follow myself. Of course, no one can cram the knowledge and experience into my head for me. I am not delusional, but neither should you meaningless waste others' time and wits with confusion by expecting certain ideas to be 'well-known' or 'common knowledge' but weren't bothered to be treated as such amid upbringing. And what does one do if someone's familial/social experience did not allow for these common lessons? It takes a village to raise a child, but nowadays I can seldom find a village so much as islands drowning in echoing self-interest and egotistic delusion.