Examined Life: Why I Commend Perpetual Students
Really, who doesn’t love learning something new?
Socrates, one the greatest thinkers of our time, once strongly remarked: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Last year I took a philosophy class and I distinctly remember highlighting and then transcribing this compelling quote. Several months later, I came across it and tried to pinpoint what exactly appealed to me. As a student, I identified with it closely. This quote legitimized my scholarly aspirations. It opened my eyes to the nobility of my profession and encouraged me to go on. It was a blessing. While someone’s status as a student may not always imply a strong love of knowledge–in my case, it truly did. In fact, I can’t divorce being a student from an ardent pursuit of knowledge to this day. For me, it is more than just studying, writing essays and getting grades; I view my work as my destiny.
It complements my life in profound ways. Socrates is one of my favorite philosophers for a reason. I feel that his voice of wisdom speaks to me from that faraway world of ancient Greece, instructing me to make the most of my life, here and now. It is a voice of understanding and solidarity. It is a voice of a kindred spirit. I wholeheartedly commend Socrates’s dedication to learning, and the relentless pursuit of wisdom. He truly lived his truth. Sitting in the library and writing these words, I wish to follow him.
I think there are many things of lasting import, and education is one of them. No one can truly object to the validity of education in our society and daily life, but it takes special commitment to wholly invest in its pursuit. Almost everyone gets through high school; many people go on to college or university, receiving diplomas and bachelor degrees. Some receive their masters, and a few –their PhDs. and post-docs. I truly applaud those deciding to go all the way; they are my role models.
I think they are ambitious, hard-working and determined. In fact, I want to be like them. I’d like to clarify that I am not solely speaking about concrete evidence of postsecondary education—a list of degrees next to a person’s name. In actuality, I am including perpetual students and avid learners—those who never get tired of educating themselves. I confess: I belong to this category. Presently I’ve only received one degree-my bachelor’s-but I’ve been in school for years, and I plan to stay on.
There’s a Nuance to being a Student and like all Nuanced Behaviours it can be Done Well
Learning is simply something I love. It is my innate inclination, the air I breathe. I love studying. I love expanding my mind. I love perusing, contemplating, and deconstructing. I welcome difficult texts and I rejoice when I master them. I like revising my work and polishing it to the level of competency. I take pleasure in late nights and early mornings, spent in academic pursuit. I can’t imagine my life without all of these things. The act of constant learning makes my life interesting and full of meaning. I enjoy learning new complex concepts, theories, and perspectives. I greatly value a challenge, and I look for ways to apply my knowledge in my day-to-day life. It’s a perpetual cycle of joy, wonder, and reward. Being a student defines me. It forms my identity. When people ask me what I do for a living –it is a question I often dread answering because of its immediate association with manual labor in my age– I tell people that I am a university student with the intention of getting my Master’s and PhD. I consider it as my full-time position, my walk of life.
I would be in school forever if I could
Some people commend me, congratulating me on doing what I love, living out my dream. I immensely appreciate this response. Yet, there are also others who think I’m crazy, labeling me a ‘perpetual student’, urging me to ‘finish already’. I smile and let it pass. After all, I get to decide how to live the life that I so passionately planned. I know what my heart wants. I am staying true to myself. When in doubt, I turn to the person of unfaltering convictions—Socrates himself. If you ask me, perpetual student is an honorable characteristic. It suggests enthusiasm and perseverance. It fights against ignorance and exalts knowledge. It lifts our society up. It makes a difference. I’m blessed to be part of this greater cause. Education is the door to the future. It equips us with power to consciously shape our lives, make informed choices and grow. By bettering ourselves, we contribute to a better, more enlightened world.