A Partial Education Doesn’t Make You An Expert

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College is a very special time. It’s one of the few windows in your life where you’ll be around people of a similar age group, IQ, and sense of purpose. Whether it’s the stoner in your required Environmental Health class or your fraternity brother cracking a cold one with you on the weekend, people are on a pretty level playing field. Sure we Greeks might have a little more capital and a lot more sense, but when it comes down to it we’re all in the same bubble. We’re surrounded by people of a relatively similar temperament with professionals that — whether you know it or not — are trying to set us up to secure the future. For better or worse, we’re all in this together.

It’s that common goal that unites young academics. With the desire to be future professionals comes an air of superiority. It’s natural. We’re young, we’re talented, and we have the whole world in front of us. Humility is a damn fine quality, but any humble man worth his salt still walks around with the belief that they’re intrinsically better than those they compete with. Life, after all, is a competition. It’s the blessing of youth, that feeling of expert knowledge and invincibility, but it’s also a curse. Sadly, as I’ve come to learn in my years of higher education, we actually don’t know shit. We’re sure learning, but the mayhem that comes after isn’t a real thing yet. It’s the next frontier, the one that we’re set to conquer. With that conqueror’s mentality comes unfounded confidence, and unfounded confidence is very close to arrogance.

This isn’t meant to make you feel like what you’re doing makes you a garbage person. Going out and seeking an education is a damn fine calling. Copping a sweet network only makes it better. For folks like us who are destined for absolute greatness it’s downright necessary. When we’re forty or fifty, that diploma will be the foundation on which we built and crushed empires after all. We’re not forty or fifty. We’re eighteen to twenty-five year old guys that like beer, boobs, and South Park. Unlike the guys that have seen deals collapse in a literal heartbeat or won awards beyond “Most Likely To Pee On A Stripper”, our foundation is completely untested. For all the bluster, theory, and hunger there’s absolutely no execution. Unless you’re a Mark Cuban or a Zuckerberg (in which case call me, I’d love to mow a lawn for more than $15 an hour), you’re literally flying blind.

Is it easy to critique? Of course it is. That’s why YouTube is full of people who tell every amateur musician that they’re less than dog shit. It’s why we argue with police officers, write off the advice of medical doctors, and think that saying a digital media company doesn’t know what they’re doing will actually impact revenue. When it really comes down to it, we’re clueless. Someday, when we’re smoking Cohibas on a yacht paid for with straight cash, our opinions will actually matter. At that point, however, it’ll mean a lot less to us and a lot more to the people we’re willing to fire. Until then, don’t take yourself too seriously. After all, somewhere there’s a guy who’s better educated, better looking, and better financed who’s chomping at the bit to correct you. Enjoy that crazy life now, because pretty soon your sense of self will be rocked. When that time comes, you’ll be fiending for the days of unrealistic expertise and your long lost superiority complex.

Karl Karlson is TFM's self-proclaimed cartoon expert and your best buddy. He resides in the mountains of NC where he wrestles black bears and attempts to grow a beard. Karl gave up liquor following an unfortunate incident involving tequila and a vacuum cleaner, but he isn't above a nice stout on the porch.

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