One year ago I staggered across the stage of the Knapp Center, officially crossing into the uncharted waters of the “real world”. Commencement was the happiest day of my life and I felt like the Highlander being endowed with some new-found power when I shook President Maxwell’s hand. I was ecstatic at being able to smugly pronounce to the world that I, Michael B. Ujifusa, was a bonafide college graduate. That I had finished the 17 year-long academic marathon and was now statistically better off than the majority of the population. What I was most proud of was the fact that I had finally evolved into a “real” person and was now able to declare myself a young professional, capable of dominating the world through sheer will and business savvy.
Although my life-long struggle against standardized tests and term papers had finally come to an end, I knew that another fiend lurked around the corner; the soul-crushing, self-esteem destroying entity known universally as the Job Search. The tricky bastard had only become more vicious during the recession and my credentials were not exactly prestigious or notable at the time. I feared rejection and unemployment so much that I decided I would do something different.
Moving to China was the perfect loophole for deferring the depressing reality of the “real world” for one more year. I have been technically working and developing “marketable” skills and experiences, yet my life here could not be further away from reality. I am not a real person in China. My life here could best be described as living in a strange dream, and sometimes nightmare, that I can not wake up from. The experience has been surreal and I can’t express how happy I am that I had the chance to take a year off to live in this strange place. That I was able to do something besides relegating myself to a year of relative boredom and insignificance.
(Now for the cliché commencement speech portion of this rant.)
If you fear responsibility or the doldrums of office life. If you are afraid of living a life of boredom and mediocrity. Don’t settle for Normality. Don’t let the pressures of the graduate life stop you from continuing to learn about yourself and the world. Do something wild and erratic while you are still young. Quit your job, move to another country and live in squalor for a year. Pursue your dream of becoming a world renown voice actor. Move to Alaska and work at a fish cannery or train to become the champion of History Channel’s Full Metal Jousting. Do something before you squirt out a few kids and realize that the majority of your adult life has been spent worrying about paying rent or monthly installments on IKEA furniture. Youth and the accompanying lack of responsibility or accountability should not be wasted. You have your entire life to work, settle down and turn into your parents. Cultivating yourself and more importantly your happiness is the most important thing you should be doing in your early 20s. Furthermore there is not a better time in life to be a wandering vagabond. I’ve always found great comfort in the fact that if I wanted to, I could jam every possession I own into the Mazda and drive to Tierra del Fuego with no repercussions.
If you hate your job or are hopelessly unemployed, do something about it there are always alternatives. Embracing Normality and continuing to pad your resume or build your professional career are more prudent and “intelligent” than everything I’ve mentioned. However, when I look back on my life I will not remember the days where I was diligent and hard-working. I will remember when I lived in China for a year and knew what it felt like to be a rolling stone.