I tried to explain to my parents that nowadays, stopping after a bachelors degree was like stopping after a high school diploma in their day. With a B.A., you’re an underachiever, you’re incomplete. I can’t believe that I was so excited to graduate with my B.A. that I couldn’t sleep the night before, almost four years ago to the day. It isn’t really all that impressive, is it?

Acquaintances jump into conversations with the opener, “So, are you going back to school?” Friends and family check to see if I’m any closer to a masters degree–closer to legitimacy. They don’t want to hear that I’m satisfied with my job that doesn’t require an M.S.

I don’t bother saying, “I’m not planning to get a masters degree any time soon, but I just wrote two poems and I had an amazing counseling session at work today and I just learned how to test hematocrit and I finally did a supported handstand in yoga and I sat and talked for a while with one of my best friends and I printed some photos I took and they look really good and I’m almost finished knitting a pair of socks” because that’s not what people want to hear. I don’t think they like to hear that someone is fulfilled with a slightly untraditional path.

I love that my friends have aspirations, but I have them, too, and we don’t need to have the same ones. I hate the assumptions and the chasm between us. I hate the implication that I’m not doing enough when in fact, I’m doing a whole lot, and you don’t need the GRE for that.

P.S. To friends who think this is about you: It isn’t. It’s about society. Don’t apologize; just think about it.

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