Tuesday, May 23, 2006

"Real" Work

Well, I now realize how incendiary that last post was from a couple of comments that I got. I will try not to extrapolate such incapsulating moral claims next time.

I think today I was struck by the idea of grades vs. work. At Davidson, everyone knows that students do a lot of work. However, the hard part about all that work is having it result in a B, or a B+ or even an A-. But eventually you feel that your work is judged instead of finished.

Now I am certainly not going to claim that all work in school is bad because it's graded and all work everywhere else is sweet because its pass/fail, so to speak. However, I do feel that there is less of a value of personal worth that is attributed to most professions. While you certainly want to succeed at your job and lazy people are often fired, even most CEO's of major companies do not go home and fret about the next day's work. At least not the way that Davidson students do.

It is very rare to find a Davidson student, from Freshman to Senior, from barely passing to 4.0, that doesn't feel like their every waking (and sleeping) breath is some ultimate test of character. At least as long as they're sober. Whether in religious life, friendships, athletics or academics, the pressure to succeed and lead is astonishing and it spares very few. Some students try go through all four years drunk and unnoticing. Others try to find meaning by participating in the bizzare Davidson "random hook-up scene," and giving themselves new emotional highs with every new face. Others (and this number is higher than most imagine) spend most of their college life on Prozac and moaning to any friends still willing to listen.

Every year, Davidson students finish their summer and come back to campus remarking on one common concept: stress-free work. The work was stressful while they did it, but the moral tenor wasn't there. They didn't spend every minute letting it hang over them and they didn't bank their life on the small evaluations.

Before I go any further, let me soften any extreme language by admitting that one of my co-workers was up till 4 AM yesterday preparing our LLC's website for launch. That stress was squarely on him and he had a moral responsibility to get it done. And yet somehow he seemed more composed at work today than most Davidsonians before a mere quiz or presentation.

Perhaps, I might chalk it up to maturity. Davidson college students are a small demographic of specific age and specific personalities. Perhaps we are just a big mess of worry-worts that infect each other by our close quarters.

However, I would still like to argue that our culture's youth as a whole today seem to be worrying more. Although our quality of life is outstanding, our youth seem scared and judged. Once again, maybe this fear was always there but previous cultures did not allow such freedom of youth expression, but something tells me that we aren't enjoying ourselves as much.

I've written my way into this corner and could easily take another turn by mentioning greater knowledge, exposure and competition as possible determiners, but I am getting tired.

However, this time it isn't a scared tired. I'm not scared to go to sleep for fear that I am not completing everything. Tonight, I will go to sleep burden-free. The way it should be.

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