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Aaron Delwiche
aaron.delwiche@gmail.com | Carbonel Tigereye (Second Life) | adelwiche (skype)

Aaron Delwiche
Date: 2006-04-25 00:45
Subject: Paradigm shift
Security: Public
Music:Paul Simon, "The Boy in the Bubble"
During the past few weeks, I have been talking with a handful of graduating seniors about their next steps after leaving Trinity. It’s odd to have these conversations, since it feels like "just yesterday" that I left college.

Recently, looking back on the past fifteen years, I wondered if there was anything that I wished I had known before tackling the so-called “real world.” Certain lessons jumped immediately to mind:

  • If you don’t change your oil regularly, your car will eventually stop running. Permanently.

  • No matter how nice they seem to be, it is always a bad idea to invite heroin addicts to crash in your apartment for a few days.

  • Eating three frozen burritos with cheese on a daily basis seems like a good idea at first, but ultimately – after one’s metabolism changes – this becomes a very dangerous habit.

  • Three cats is too many.

  • If you take a “cash advance” on a credit card, the bank loans the money at a significantly higher APR than ordinary purchases. When you pay back the loan, the bank forces you to pay down all of the lower interest-rate sum before the bank allows you to chip away at the higher interest-rate.

The very fact that I did not know these things at the age of 22 is a testament my colossal stupidity and lack of common sense. These lessons are not very useful, and hardly bloggable.

After further thought, I identified one thing that my teachers had never explained to me: the gestalt-switch that occurs at some point after graduation. The term describes a perceptual shift in which the viewer "sees now one thing and now another, i.e. first an old woman, and then a young girl (see image below)."


Do you see an old woman? A young woman? Can you see both simultaneously?

After graduation, when trying to figure out my place in the world, it took a long time to make the necessary shift in perception. Throughout high school and college -- at every stage of my intellectual and emotional growth -- my environment was structured to help me as a student. To a certain extent, it was fair to say the world of the university revolved around its students.

My professors encouraged me to write papers on "What I think about democracy" or "How what I've read in this class connects to my interests in media studies." These instructors encouraged me to master new skills and ways of thinking by selecting topics that motivated me at a personal level. It was a fantastic opportunity.

When I turned in term papers, there was always someone – usually a teaching assistant – who reviewed the paper and gave me specific feedback. The best teachers explained how to strengthen my writing and analytical skills. Even when I was unhappy with the comments and grades, I had to acknowledge that someone had spent a decent amount of time reviewing my prose and trying to understand what I had to say.

Throughout all five years, almost every non-student that I encountered on campus, from teachers to clerical workers to janitorial staff to librarians to cafeteria workers, was primarily concerned with serving the interests of students and researchers.

Even during moments of activism, when the chancellor dispatched campus police to arrest anti-apartheid protestors for occupying the registrar’s office, there was a sense that someone was hearing (if not acting upon) student concerns.

After an anti-climactic off-term graduation (December 1990), I began working as a temporary clerical worker at organizations throughout the Bay Area. Gradually – very, very gradually – I realized that “real world” priorities are completely different than those of most academic institutions.

Outside the university, reality had flipped everything on its head. Authority figures and potential employers only cared about what I could do for them. I met enlightened and friendly people in many organizations, but almost everyone had some sort of personal and institutional agenda.

During college, all of my ideas, research-plans and behaviors had been justified in reference to (a) my intellectual growth, (b) finding myself as a person, (c) the good of society, or (d) the advancement of knowledge within the field of political theory. After college, authority figures measured my contributions according to how they strengthed the bottom line. (There was considerably more freedom within nonprofits, but even socially-concerned organizations must sustain funding for all employees.)

It finally dawned on me that this should shape the way I presented myself to other organizations. The best way to pursue my own goals was to translate those objectives into the language and concerns of my employer. It seems so obvious now, but it took a long time to reach this ephiphany.

Some of my peers smoothly adapted their “presentation of self” to the demands of the workplace without any problems. Perhaps my difficutlies reflect my own narcissistic tendencies. Nevertheless, I honestly think that it took a while to get a handle on the new lay of the land simply because none of my professors had ever explained this to me.

Come to think of it, they probably did try to explain it to me. I was a bit stubborn back then.
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( ... ): sockmonster
User: loverboy82
Date: 2006-04-25 07:57 (UTC)
Subject: (no subject)
Keyword:sockmonster
good advice. sometimes I feel I really lack basic commonplace knowledge about things.

really good analysis of the difference between school and the real world. they are very oppositional realms. these things have been on my mind since entering the world of work and now that i am about to re-enter school. i tend to think i didn't get much out of university because it took me too long to understand how it worked. but i am also unfit for "the world of work."
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-04-26 02:53 (UTC)
Subject: Hi Aarron, Frank from HK
Glad to find you again. Congrats on the terranova thing. Just chatted with Khue who is now pregnant. Send me an e-mail at antartica@gmail.com to catch up.

regards,

Frank
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-04-26 08:33 (UTC)
Subject: Gee wiz
Hey, I'm graduating in 3 weeks and nobody's been kind enough to impart such words of wisdom upon me in such an elegant and concise manner... Ah, the wonders of the intarweb

... Seems like the answer is to be my own boss...
....
time to invest in land in Sud America!
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2006-04-28 03:22 (UTC)
Subject: Hooray for Mr. Simon
Dr. Delwiche,

Hooray for Rhymin' Simon! I feel like he goes under the radar as one of the great artists in music.

Zug Zug!
Charley
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Date: 2007-06-04 18:46 (UTC)
Subject: qBghOSEk
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Date: 2007-06-24 14:56 (UTC)
Subject: NTHuElpxEvKhYnUYHBH
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Date: 2007-07-30 11:22 (UTC)
Subject: hello
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-01-16 02:25 (UTC)
Subject: rphLKqnofDul
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Date: 2008-02-20 15:02 (UTC)
Subject: NNMMSTrvwusbRUj
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Date: 2008-02-20 16:02 (UTC)
Subject: yEYHnasZZcsdzuTyQL
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Date: 2008-03-24 15:49 (UTC)
Subject: msBCAqhNbev
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-08-03 12:23 (UTC)
Subject: fwnMkOlYnEHI
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-08-04 02:54 (UTC)
Subject: bGywqhwXwLh
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User: (Anonymous)
Date: 2008-10-06 17:50 (UTC)
Subject: ItdvNbEAMsACP
comment3,
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