I sat in the front row, as to not be obstructed by other’s heads and to hear better, for the professor was soft spoken and a borderline quiet talker. As he called role to confirm students in his class he often repeated names, not any louder, but in a different tone, each just as soft as the other. Excitement and a feeling of this is right gently came over me, perhaps my subconscious reassuring me of my decision to return to school. With my notepad on my desk, opened to the first fresh clean piece of lined paper I began to write. Copying the information that was on the board and looking around the classroom I realized I was most likely the oldest in this class. No worries though, it did not disturb me nor did I think much about it beyond the simple recognition of the youthful faces around me. “Welcome to Psychology 111 Personality Dynamics” surprisingly my new professor’s voice rang out. “You may live to regret it” he then followed in his original soft voice, with a comical sinister laugh. The room was quiet and after a brief pause he continued to introduce himself.
“You may live to regret it”, those words stuck in my head for a few minutes. My initial thought was “how lucky I will be. To live and to regret something” I would much rather live to regret instead of the alternative. After all, to live is a beautiful gift. Then knowing my mind as well as I currently do, the sarcastic me took over for a bit. If I knowingly tell myself or I am made aware of prior to doing something, that I may live to regret it, then why would I do it? Not to mention the underlining doubt in those words “may live”, as if there is a chance by doing this, such as taking this class, which I might die. Well then, “HELL NO! Thank you for the warning. Have a lovely evening.” But, I rolled the dice and determined that I would be OK, no imminent danger here.
As the professor continued to speak, discussing each paragraph of the syllabus, he would occasionally stop and ask “Are there any question? Does everyone understand what I’m reading? Is anyone overwhelmed?” With a pause he looked around, no hands or voices speaking up so he picked up where he had left off. Then as we turned to the next page he paused and asked the same three questions again. He did this about six times as we methodically went through the syllabus. I felt it was a little bit overkill and my thoughts were “we’re in a college class, if these cats don’t understand then perhaps this isn’t the right time for them to be in college.” I know my words seem condescending, but shouldn’t we all be more or less ready, at least 80% ready if we are here?
After a few more words the professor gave us a short break. I stood up and stretched in place. A line began to form at the professor’s desk. I listened as one student after another asked him questions about the syllabus and classroom protocol. “Will I lose points on late papers?”, “How many days can I miss and not be dropped from the class?”, “Is there a grading curve?”, “How important is grammar on the research papers?” The questions continued through the break and I wondered, were any of them listening? He was very adamant about having all technology put away so that could not have been a distraction for them. Then it hit me. This generation is not as prepared for life beyond high school as I was and nowhere near as ready for life like my parents and grandparents had to be. I do not want to belittle this generation, however, I think a high percentage of them have been coddled and given things without putting in the effort to earn them.
As a former high school teacher I saw this, though many of my students did not come from a high-end family. But, some did not comprehend the idea of working hard for something. Nothing is given, you must earn it. So I once thought. Living in Marin County, just north of San Francisco, I see this a lot, much of the youth are taken care of materialistically and the idea of working for what you want is somewhat ludicrous. My youngest daughter has often told us she is the only one of her friends that works. Then she inquires in a roundabout way why. My wife and I feel strongly that our children understand why work is important and that we are not their bank.
Will our youth of today have the confidence and skill sets needed for the future? It’s a big question. One that won’t be answered here today. The dozens upon dozens of reality shows influence them. Our circus of political appointees do nothing to set the example. And, so many commercials these days are about quick fixes, instead of actual problem solving. So, I can see why my professor kept asking the same questions. He knows who he is teaching. The funny thing is, I can hear some of these young adults now, a group of seven all talking at the same time, on their phones, and complaining “I hated psychology 111, so dull, I wish I’d never had taken it.” As I walk by them I’ll smile and think how lucky they are to have lived to regret it. How lucky they are to live. A soft laugh leaves me, for I know they have so much more ahead of them to live and to regret.
About the Author
I’ve always been involved in the arts. My grandmother and father were both portrait painters, so it was something I was immersed in. However, something about photography captivated me. The ability to capture a visual story entices me, for I have always been a bit of a storyteller and I enjoy writing too. My photography has received numerous awards; from publication in Popular Photography to 2015 Best in Show image at The Texas State Fair, regional and national awards in photography, my artwork is in private collections around the world, and I have two books out “Beyond The Image” and “Finding Myself: Visual Tales of an Explore”. I continue to challenge myself and I’m always looking for a new story to make and capture.