Lies and Untruths

Gillette, Peter

What I’m about to say is not what somebody is supposed to say in a campus newspaper:
Our student government, our hall councils, our campus organizations, the politics of our professors’ departments, the size of our Facebook wall, how many people show up at our fundraisers, and even this very newspaper are not very important.
Although it can be helpful -pathetically noble, even – to think that these are very important things, to be the best club president one can be, it is too sad to sit at an empty event you unsuccessfully planned wondering, “Why is the Lawrence student body so darned apathetic? Why don’t they come to my events?”
I’ll tell you why they don’t come to events or to meetings: because there are too many of them, and they are not very important.
These diversions and groups can be important since they prepare us for life in business or academia, where advancement may be incumbent upon our ability to perform menial, monumentally unimportant tasks with feigned vigor and suppressed bitterness.
Next time, though, you listen to some impassioned plea from a sad-eyed lady or fella tabling at Downer about how you should “please-oh-please-show-up” to this or that, recall the scary admonishment of Grandpa Warch: “Your business is to learn.”
For all the folks who went to the activities fair freshman year and never got off the hundred e-mail lists, at the end of the day, when you kick your feet up and try to relax, what is it that has you so exhausted?
Is it that problem-set that’s due tomorrow? That lab report? That seven-minute mile you ran in cross-country today? All that stuff you couldn’t get in the practice room? That novel you haven’t finished reading, let alone analyzing? Your sculpture that still seems to lack something?
The world beyond Lawrence, to paraphrase Napoleon, likes guys (and girls) with skills. Any skill will do. But too many rsums contain the line “doing annoying campus organizations and burning out,” only in different words.
Now, sometimes, being in more clubs, committees, groups, and having more commitments helps people become more organized. But on the other hand, we have the rest of our lives to be organized about something we got roped into doing.
There are certain middle management types who were just born to be in charge of anything, whether it be a dog kennel, a discount brothel, or the White House. These types of people often ascend quickly before ruling a group with an iron fist.
When you see one of them walking towards you, run away! Later in life, when one of them is bossing you around, at least you’ll have a 401(k), or a 15-minute break per eight-hour shift.
For now, though, take my advice. Get smart. Get talented. Get really good. Then look at your commitments. And get out.

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