Hard Work and Fruitless Labor
Trigger warning: Discussion of weight loss.
Summer college courses have started and are now in full swing. The abbreviated semester means longer and more intense classes, sometimes taking up as much as half a day per class, four days a week. This semester, I am taking Interpreting 2, the third from last American Sign Language (ASL) interpreting class I will be taking before graduating; subsequently, it is the most difficult class I have taken so far, and yet the last two classes will be even more trying. Of course, there are a handful of supporting classes that are required as well.
Hard work is what these classes are; we are required to put in three hours of peer-guided practice per week, on top of having English-to-ASL interpreting videos AND the accompanying paperwork, on top of benchmarks, on top of weekly tests, on top of hours of self study in the second language, ON TOP OF the class itself (which is five hours long). This is just for one class. Next semester I will have Interpreting 3, Sign to Voice, and Practicum, all of which require their own coursework. Practicum itself requires a minimum of 120 hours of “intern” or “clinic” work — we are talking about interpreting doctor’s visits, theater performances, K-12 classes, college classes, business meetings, and anything else that a person does on a regular basis.
I tell you all of this not to bitch about the work that I enjoy, but rather to bitch about a comparison that was made by our program director, of all people.
When this semester started, we students had an orientation to go to. Basically we were told how difficult the next phase was going to be and how we could get through it together. I actually thought it was inspiring… until the end bit.
Our program director started telling us about her weight loss journey. She waxed about how difficult things were for her when she was fat, how she “finally realized” she couldn’t be fat “like her family” any more, how she worked soooooo hard to be where she is physically, even though she isn’t “where [she] wants to be,” and how it’s just like the program. The more she talked, the angrier I got.
The kind of diligence it takes to stay on top of everything in this program is enormous; the willpower to pick yourself up after what seems like a miserable failure requires trucks — the dedication that is unavoidable can, and does, break people. So how dare you compare weight loss with college education?
It makes me angry mostly because I associate intentional weight loss with something negative: “I am not good enough and must better myself to be acceptable.” With this college program, it is more like: “I am good already, but I want to aspire to be even better.” I don’t see education as something grueling to endure until some future point when everything will somehow be “better.” I don’t see it as putting in blood, sweat, and tears for the approval and recognition of others. Education isn’t transient, my degrees won’t disappear in two to three years. All of my hard work will truly be worth it.
Ugh, I’m feeling this song right now.
Just BE the song. (Also, ignore the terrible, terrible clothing choices of the anime. Interestingly, this anime has a sub-theme of accepting yourself and your body regardless of how or where you are, hence the terrible, awful clothing.)