Asking Too Much

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   Two posts in one day?

Outrageous.

YET TRUE!

So I got a funny letter in the mail the other day from my collegiate alma mater. Now, I have never been close with either my high school or the colleges I attended. I stayed away from the high school because I didn’t enjoy my time and didn’t have any interest in returning, and when I tried I wasn’t really someone they remembered any longer. My colleges I liked well enough I just didn’t have a reason to return. I worked for my alma mater for a short time and it ended and I didn’t have an interest in keeping the ties between them. I stayed in touch with the people that mattered and outside of that I didn’t much care. Since graduating though I have found it very funny that I suddenly get requests for donations from time to time, and each time I make sure to answer in some way.

See, here’s the deal –

When I graduated I did so with a BA. I was an English major and a writer and had no interest in teaching. There are too many teachers who don’t love what they do and because of that the students suffer. I wasn’t going to be that person too. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, heck, am just figuring it out now actually, but I knew what I didn’t want to do. No big deal. It was my degree and my responsibility to get a job. Well, I have rarely had a job where I was comfortable enough where I could contribute anything to anyone yet time and again I would get pleas from my alma mater to please, pleas, please donate to this cause or that, this program or that, or whatever they needed money for at the time. I take general umbrage with this because, frankly, they should do two things –

1. Keep track of your graduated students and what they are up to. Be involved with me and I may be involved with you.

2. When checking in on said graduates make sure they are in positions to actually donate. Sure, this may take a little more work but you can either do surveys or you can get a feel for whether they are in fields that they were looking at in school.

Why?

Because you get people like me that get very offended when you can barely make a living at the job you have and then you get pleas from a huge university for alms when they should be helping you try to get a darn job or get further.

Oh, and sure, they’ll help. If you join their membership groups and pay dues. Then you can mingle with other grads and hit them up for jobs directly. Awesome.

What makes things worse is that since graduating I have published books, maybe not great novels the school would be proud of but they are valid books, are real books, and they were written by one of their grads. Their interest is little and none. Yet they still feel they can pop up from time to time and ask me to support a student that wants to get into a writing program, or to help fund a writing scholarship or whatever it is. It drives me mad. You support the ‘children’ you helped make and then you support the ones that are not yet born. That’s how I feel in this case.

You need to give a damn that I was a student, am a graduate, and that I am working desperately to get my work out to the world. Help me do that and we’ll talk about your projects. I just can’t get too worked up to help someone when all I am is a number and a potential dollar sign. When that happens these institutions become little more than high profile beggars hitting up everyone on the street to see if they can get that much needed bus fare.

Nope.

Not from me.

When you can start caring about your students that didn’t set the world on fire but are working to make themselves, their families, their friends, their communities, and the universities themselves proud then I will care right back. There are plenty of glory hounds in college, the ones that get help and acclaim but don’t need it. It’s the students that fall between the cracks and disappear into the system that need the extra care and interest.

Start living up to your own standards, dear alma mater, and maybe I’ll start you off on an allowance. For now, go out in the yard and rake some leaves. It’s getting messy out there.

Knowing When to Say When

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I think one of the harder things to do not just as an arty person but as a person in general is to know to say ‘when’ and to back away from a project. Most of us hate to admit defeat and we hate the idea that something can get the better of us but we have to be willing to move past our ego, past the short view and to keep our eye on the horizon. Failure happens and life is soaked in it. It’s the successful people, the happier people, who are willing to let the failures happen and understand that they don’t define the rest of your life. It’s when you let the failures overpower your vision, your dreams, and the long view of life that you begin to falter.

I have gotten a long, hard look at failure recently and it truly shakes you to your core when its something you’re deeply passionate about but there’s nothing to do but to move on. You can’t be willing to give up but you must be willing to adapt, to evolve, and to move on.

Failure happens.

We screw up.

Others screw up.

Time, place, and circumstance all play a part in things.

But you must be strong enough, must learn to be strong enough to move on. To more forward. To let those failures go.

Those traits are what define your passion.

Those are the traits that define a life.