School. College. Job.

That’s progression most of us have been taught to adopt. Do well in school, go to college and get a degree or two, and integrate yourself in the workforce. The extents as to how much you will get involved is entirely up to your own will and availability. But that’s pretty much the mentality that we are given once we’re old enough to know that our lives won’t continue living off the dreams to become a princess, a superhero, or make world peace (ha, as if).

This common mindset is why many of us have remained within this ‘system’. School/college is the adult-version of the 9-5 workday: the mindset that we are wired to have once we officially become part of the workforce. It’s within the system, the familiar, the known. Though an increasing number of the modern day citizen romanticizes the idea of ‘breaking the boundaries’ and stepping out of this 9-5 typical comfort zone, in truth, most of us still adhere to this mode of working. I’m yet to become part of the workforce, so I am in no position to judge as to whether most of us are working the most efficiently possible or not.

But I have been through school, and you encounter all kinds of people at school: the ones who thrive in the academic environment, the geeks that thrive in one or a few particular areas, the seemingly slackers who have some hidden talent, the ones who just want to sleep all day – you name it. School is pretty rigid; you can only bend the rules so much. So it’s pretty obvious that only a fraction of those who attend school get the most from it.

Does this mean that we should ‘break the boundaries’ of school and romanticize about other alternatives? Not necessarily. But this does prove that our society does not yet put enough emphasis on enabling students to thrive best at school, where a lot of our education takes place. And this reflects on us completely when we decide to step into the workforce.

In today’s working society, it’s all about investing our skills in the best industries, companies and businesses possible. Regardless of what career you choose, everything is already there waiting for you. All you have to do is prove to them that you have what it takes to thrive in the job. But what the 9-5 workday creates is a limit. There’s a reason why most (American) citizens are unhappy with their job. They aren’t inspired to take action outside their job nor working hours, because that inspiration rarely takes place while we are at school.

At my school, each year the teachers and students are giving more emphasis towards extracurricular activities, but there’s still a long way to go before we actually see these activities for what they are worth. Because the typical stereotype still remains: if you do well in school, you will succeed in life. This may or may not be true. But life can be so much more than what we will ever learn in school. In my last few years of school, I actually learned more about myself and my interests outside school other than in it. I explored several clubs at school before settling on a few, and I expanded these commitments to activities that took place outside school as well. These things that I did outside school defined the person that I was once my ‘job’ (school) was done.

And I guess the same goes for those with careers. If you have a 9-5 tiring job, the thing that you may want to do the most at the end of the day is relax and shut down, before you repeat it all over again tomorrow, next week, and for god knows how long. Not everyone has the time to think outside the box, of other things you could do to just think outside the box for a bit, and explore other possibilities.

This is not a post criticizing the way our society works (as I’m not old nor wise enough to criticize something without bearing any experience myself). But I am trying to make a connection between the way we are raised at school, professionalized at college, and implemented in the workforce as adults. Because it’s all connected in the end, and if there’s anything that we want to change about the way we do things now, it has to begin from where it all starts.




  1. It’s funny you should explore this topic today. On my blog, I just reviewed a book by Bill Bryson, who didn’t do well in school but became successful as a travel writer. Go figure.