In the last few days, I have given serious thought to withdrawing from Cornell. Not the "oh, if I could do whatever I wanted" or the "if I won the lottery" type of thought, but of actually doing it under present circumstances. It's not Cornell per se that I'm dissatisfied with - it's college itself. Going to class, doing problem sets, and taking exams doesn't do it for me anymore. It hasn't done it for me for about the last seven months or so. It feels like I'm not getting anything in return for the work. I'm paying and getting nothing back. Leaving now would prevent me from throwing more money at something in which I've lost all interest. I've become thoroughly dissatisfied with operations research and engineering. But transferring to another major, or even another school, isn't something I'm interested in either. Not only would it delay my graduation a great deal, it doesn't relieve me of the whole school environment.
I'm much, much happier at my paying job. There, I have a modicum of responsibility. My effort has immediate effect. I feel appreciated. It may be a drag while I'm there, but at the end of the day, it's worth it. There is, of course, also the little factor of pay, but that's not as important now. If I separate from Cornell, it could become crucial. The question becomes, could I support myself completely independent of parental assistance?
But for everything in my body that tells me to leave the academic world behind, there is just as much telling me to stay and fight it out. There is the uncertainty of what would be to follow. Would I be able to support myself? What kind of job could I get? It seems like the options would be limited without a college degree. How long would it take me to pay off the debt I've racked up through five semesters at an Ivy League institution? Between my parents and the government, it's a lot. At one time, paying off that debt was paramount for me. I don't think it is any longer. It's going to get done, but it's not like I'm gung-ho about paying it off by the middle of this decade. There will be plenty of time for that.
There is also the stigma of having quit when I know I could have done it. It's not as though I am incapable of doing the work required for a degree - quite the contrary. I'm not sure how much this would affect me. It probably depends on where my life goes. If, ten years from now, I lay destitute in the street somewhere, I would probably lament quitting. But if not, I might mark it as a watershed event in my life.
There are many different things I have thought of doing with my life. There are, however, three that keep coming to the fore, and all have to do with sports: sports writing, sports broadcasting, and officiating. I can pursue these interests, particularly writing, without college. Maybe they will lead to a career. I don't know. But it feels like my academic activities are pointless.
The degree itself is not of great importance to me. It is by no means a barometer of success, and most certainly not of happiness. My parents are prime examples of that. They are both satisfied with their lives, and neither one of them needed a bachelor of science to achieve that satisfaction. I don't think they would disown me or even be angry. To be sure, they might disapprove, they almost certainly wouldn't like my quitting, but they'll have my back no matter what I decide to do. I sometimes like to think of this as the "garbage truck doctrine," in that even if I wanted to do something as apparently base a drive a garbage truck, they would support me.
It seems my brother doesn't need a degree either. It also seems as though he's already set to strike out on his own, and he's not even eighteen. I don't know the full extent of what exactly happened there. I do know that he hasn't lived in the house since 30 August. I'll no doubt find out more when I return home this weekend. I think I will most definitely have to get in touch with him sometime while I'm home.
For a long time, I never understood the thinking of my best friend Ryan. He clearly had the ability to go to a better university than SUNY-Farmingdale. But he chose not to. I think I understand him better now than ever before. He did what he knew would make him happy. He may have, to put it one way, exploited the generosity of his parents to get there, but he is happy where he is. He once wrote that 'happiness' was "the one word in the English language that has no definition." He also said "You have to get in touch with your life's inner fire. What's feeding that fire for you?" At this point, as I said before, going to college isn't feeding the fire for me anymore.
I hope I can figure out what to do. These next few days, and the upcoming trip back to Long Island, should help clarify my thinking. Whether I come back with a firm direction in which to proceed is still unknown.