Dear Ms. Doyle:I'm a third-year in college and I've started to have what my father calls, "third year thoughts." Pretty much what this means is that I'm becoming frustrated with some of my humanities classes because they're heavily theoretical and don't focus much on getting out into the community and making changes based on the theory that we've been learning. As I get closer to graduating and entering the real world, I'm getting annoyed that my classes aren't being more proactive. I was wondering how you think I could use what I'm learning in class in the real world without taking up arms and committing many hours to activism? How have you used what you learned in school in your every day life?
I am very pleased to hear you are having these rumblings. Though it may sound bad, my news for you is very good. What your father calls “third-year thoughts” is, in fact, a manifestation of what I hope will be your life-long struggle. May it live on in many forms as your decades unfold!
Your conflict — theory versus action — is one that everyone of all ages should be thinking about every day. Maturity is defined by the ability to feel, reflect, and make judgments before deciding what to do. (Here is where Ms. Doyle takes a deep breath, feels, reflects, and decides not to reference any presidential candidates). Humanities courses give a way to test this out. Characters in literature get into pickles while you live alongside them, imagining how you might react in similar situations. History, Philosophy, and Social Science courses provide theory of human motivation. You can decide which theories do and do not ring true for you by doing some real-life observation. You don’t have to go far to find your laboratory — the school-dining hall comes to mind.
Taking up arms? Committing hours? I encourage you to find activities outside of class — a summer internship perhaps — that truly engage you. But I hope it is not to the exclusion of your class work. Your studies will be the foundation for all that you ponder as you go forward.
You may have seen one of my earlier DailyUV columns in which I quote Miss Rumphius. This is an example of how I have used some early learning in my current, everyday life. I didn’t know way back then that one sentence would stick with me: “You must do something to make the world more beautiful”. After many years, the sentence suddenly came back to me by way of a feeling I got from that particular reader’s question. No one can anticipate how, later in life, she might draw on her early learning.
Your feeling of frustration should be welcome. It is leading you to reflect. Your reflections will help you to decide when, how, or if to act. Feeling versus acting. This is the important takeaway. Your ability to make a distinction between the two will lead to a more satisfying life.
Do you have a question for Ms. Doyle? A conundrum? A knotty problem? She would be happy to respond to questions on love and relationships, and queries from parents and teens. Please email: Ms.Doyle.DailyUV@gmail.com