I’m a Trained Poodle

You are a trained poodle. Some of us are trained better than others. I don’t know about you, but I am a really really great poodle. I can jump through hoops, sit, lay down, and roll over. In the course of my education, I have been asked to think for myself roughly 10% of the time. 90% of the time, I am asked to do. To do a question, to regurgitate knowledge, to roll over. Most of my college career has been spent doing. I am an elite poodle, trained in the mystic arts of doing as I am told.
The training starts young. We are asked to accept blindly what we are told. We are told to just do what our teacher tells us. Those that learn quickly become A+ students. The teachers place a hoop in front of us: whats 2+2? We leap through it. I often laughed at the other poodles that asked why. From the beginning, I understood that I never needed to know why. I was never asked why. I was only asked to do and so I did.

Every test was a new hoop. Every review session was a new layout of the hoop. The angle of the hoop and the distance was given to us. Sometimes we got practice hoops so we’d know exactly how to repeat the motion. Test day came. Those that could jump through the hoop got praised. Those that couldn’t were hit with a newspaper.

Through the years, the hoops slowly got higher. The teachers asked us to do a derivative. They requested a six page paper filled with research that will impact no one. They asked us to do an integral. We were than asked to show that we could do. Sometimes, the hoop was on fire. But, the motions are always the same.

I know the system. I’ve been in this system for my entire life. I am addicted to this system. Teacher raises hoop. I jump through hoop. I jump through that hoop with flair and pizazz. I do little spins and circles as I arc through the hoop and land daintily on the other side. The teacher pats my head approvingly and makes my GPA go up.

I am less than a year away from graduation. A year away from the end of hoops forever. It is in this time that I am finally seeing the futility of the hoops. When I graduate, I will not be asked to jump through hoops. Instead, I’ll be asked to walk a tight rope. Every day will be a test of skill and balance. Every day I will be asked to think and to assert my skills for the benefit of a company. Instead of being told to repeat information, I will be asked to provide it. There is no practice report or project re-grade. There will be no review session. There is no practice tight-rope.

The thing is, poodles suck at tight rope walking. Four legs and all that fur, it just doesn’t work. I’ll suck at tight rope walking. I fear every day after graduation because I know that I am unfit for that world, for that system. I have had two internships. Fortunately, expectations are pretty low for intern poodles. I merely had to watch other people walk the tight ropes. Occasionally, I was asked to walk on a line painted safely on the ground. I was asked to do simple things that held no bearing and consequence. It was practice, but not enough for the real world.

The real world has consequences. A real job will not be a line on the ground or a rope with a safety net. I will be required not to jump, but to slowly plod forward. Challenges will be daily, not thrice a semester. And although the education system may think that it has benefited me by giving me strong leg muscles with all the hoops, I think it has failed me. The real world is not a series of hoops with a reset after each semester. It is a daily adventure that happens one step at a time.

After years of hoops, I am not ready for something new. I don’t know about the rest of you, but this poodle is terrified – peeing-on-the-carpet terrified.

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