Career Life Relationships

My boyfriend is still in college

After 12 years of knowing my boyfriend, I’ve never seen him take such a massive leap of faith before. He has always been a very structured, responsible person. But in August he decided to quit his well-paying, stable job and go back to school.

For acting.

After going through the presumably normal range of emotions of a girl who just found out her boyfriend is essentially altering the state of their lives — to enter a career that has a very, very low success rate — I settled on the only feeling that has stuck on the subject: pride. I don’t know how many people would have the guts to quit their lives and chase a dream, and I’m lucky enough to be dating one of those people? Yeah, definitely pride.

We all did college wrong the first time around

I started college when I was 18. I thought, like most students, university life meant eating cheap food, speaking to your professors as little as possible, and staying up until 4 a.m. to get your assignment finished for your 8 a.m. class. But as it turns out, that’s just being ill prepared. While cooking adult-worthy meals on the same budget I used to spend on fast food, my boyfriend tells me stories every night about the conversations he has had with his teachers after class, saying they’re better resources than any of the suggested books he’s supposed to read for the program. He’ll talk about assignments and projects like they’re learning experiences, not chores to be put off until the very last minute. And I’ve yet to see him pile his dirty dishes in the sink like they’re a science experiment awaiting examination. You can be a student and still live like an adult. Who knew?

To get what you want, you have to put in the time

When I was in university, I remember very clearly I had two weeks to complete a project. When my professor handed the assignment out, he said we should be spending a minimum of seven hours on it. I also remember making sure I had an extra seven hours to complete it the day before it was due. My boyfriend, however, starts projects when they’re given to him. He reads and re-reads materials on the subject, he drafts an outline of his work and re-writes it over the course of a few days. Then he gets someone else to review it for a second opinion. Watching him put so much effort into work that he’s essentially paying to do has been a loud wake-up call for me. I should be putting in similar efforts into my own work, especially if it’s work I get paid for.

Passion is more important than money

When my boyfriend left his job in August, he walked away from a $40 per hour position. As a creative person who is living the stereotype of a starving writer, I couldn’t wrap my mind around anyone walking away from that sort of paycheque. But the fact is he didn’t leave good money; he simply decided to work towards something more valuable to him. When we wake up in the morning, we shouldn’t be doing it just so we can make ends meet. We should be waking up to enrich our lives, not to be rich in life.

Goals don’t have a time limit

My initial reaction to my boyfriend’s declaration he was going back to school was similar to most of his friends: “Aren’t you a little old for college?” He went from having coworkers with children and mortgages to having peers who are too young to remember 9/11 and who ask him to buy them beer. But when he finishes school and enters into a career he loves, will his age really matter? Won’t it be better to be at square one of his dream than to be near the finish line of something he hates? Regardless of your dream and what you think is holding you back, you’ll never be too old to start from scratch.

Everyone has something to teach you

My boyfriend holds his teachers’ opinions in high regard, but he holds the opinions of the other students in his classes just as high. He will go from talking about his professor’s advice in handling stage fright to talking about a student’s tips on the subject. He places the same amount of importance and respect on both. It doesn’t matter to him if it’s a 52-year-old former writer of The Tonight Show or a 17-year-old college freshman with no more experience than his own. He has the mindset,“Everybody has something to teach me.” And he’s right. They do. No matter who the person is, we can learn something new from everybody we meet.

While most friends my age are getting married and having children, I couldn’t be happier discussing midterms and campus events with my boyfriend. Even though I’m not the one enrolled in school, I’m learning more life lessons from him than I ever found out on my own when I was at college. And that, my friends, is well worth the tuition.

Flickr photo (cc) by VancouverFilmSchool