I graduated from college last month, and considering I’ve been in school for nearly 18 years, it was kind of a big deal. I already shared Chapter 1 and Chapter 5/6 from my future memoir, so I figure this would be a good time to pass along Chapter 6.5:
22 Things That College Taught Me
1. Teachers. They aren’t as sucky as Anonymous Stoner says they are. I had a substitute teacher in my animation class last year who did something that our full-time teacher rarely did: He seemed genuinely excited about our work, even if it sucked. He asked us questions about our future career aspirations and ultimately made us feel like valuable people. The lesson: Teachers should be inspired by students, and vice versa. Then, education can be engaging and exciting as opposed to something unattainable and negative.
2. Online Dating. When using sites like datemyschool.com, cut to the core of a person by scrolling to the end of their profile pictures. This is where the creepy half-naked pictures are. Shame on you, iwantjew548.
3. Change. The frequency with which you may find your beliefs shaken and challenged can be unsettling. Just know that everyone is entitled to his or her own opinions, unless his or her opinions are wrong. For example, the statement “Toy Story is a bad movie” is factually incorrect and the person who utters it really, really sucks.
4. Competitiveness. Always trying to gain a one-up on your competitors is going to stress you out and perpetuate an awful feeling of jealousy toward those around you. Don’t do it. As Woody teaches us in Toy Story, jealousy is going to make all the talking toys in your life go away.
5. Music. There’s nothing more beautiful than taking the time to relax and listen to a CD. From beginning to end. Like Lindsey does in “Freaks and Geeks.” (YouTube it.)
6. Social Media. Bookface and other social media stuff is here to stay, so deal with them. The most honest thing I’ve read about them comes from William Falk in The Week: “They simply amplify and extend what is already in our hearts—our hunger for connection, our perverse capacity for cruelty.”
7. Reality TV. It can’t solve the world’s problems. And it’s better in Britain.
8. Learning. Learning kind of happens the best through learning about the process of things. Watch “How It’s Made,” or listen to the NPR podcast about how will.i.am. writes hit songs, or look up how Pixar makes movies. You’ll be inspired.
9. Finding yourself. Sometimes it may seem like school takes away time from doing the things you may love or really want to do, but stick with them. Steve Jobs randomly sat in on a calligraphy class after dropping out of school, and we now type in hundreds of beautiful fonts because of his impulsive decision to do so.
10. Studying Abroad. Necessary.
11. Ryan Gosling. Ultimate Celebrity Crush (UCC) 4 lyfe.
12. Taking time off. Do it. Somehow. Consider taking time off and start college later .
13. Politics. It may not teach me what I want to know.
14. Pop culture. It may teach me what I want to know.
15. Friends and family. They’re everything. Always.
16. Animation. It’ll show you things that have only existed in your head. And will most likely make you cry in the process.
17. Celebrities. When in Morgan Freeman’s presence, the temptation to ask him to narrate your life is nearly insurmountable. (He was standing behind me once at Lincoln Center, but luckily I never introduced myself.)
18. Dreams. They can come true. Case Study #57: My friend Arielle is one of the most devoted Jimmy Fallon fans I’ve ever met. After years of hard work in college, she landed an internship on his show:
19. Getting your clothes dirty. Do it, literally and metaphorically.
20. Confidence. Necessary.
21. College. It can teach you what you don’t know.
…and last but not least:
22. Human existence. Unlikely.
I spent the last five weeks working on a science TV show and it taught me that the elements of the universe mix and mash in incredibly precise patterns that allow us to exist as we do. While thinking about time and space can make you feel insignificant, I prefer to store it as ammo to be used every morning when I wake up. It’s like that part in Jonathan Safran Foer’s Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close when the father tells his son about the beauty of moving one grain of sand in the Sahara Desert, which has existed for millions of years but has been changed because you moved a grain of sand.
This thought of being able to do things should make you wake up every morning and, at various speeds and intensities, work toward your dreams in the short life you’ve been given. As Billy Wilder once said, “You have a dream so you can get up in the morning.”
So Pixar? Yeah you. Here I come, you beautiful, beautiful, unlikely thing.