Our schools taught us one thing: what would be on the entrance exams. “Pay attention now, this is probably going to be on the exam”. And so we went throughout high school: learning how to pass the feared vestibular, solving hundreds of questions a week, taking extra classes and practice exams.
People broke up relationships and gave up their social lives in order to study because “while you’re having fun your opponent is studying” or “that is the difference between those who pass and those who don’t”.
For a while my biggest fear was not passing the damn thing. Not that I was a bad student, mind you. I was a perfectly trained exam-acing machine. I didn’t mind studying and I liked writing essays, so I was ok. But I regretted what I was forced to learn – I hated math and chemistry with a passion. I didn’t see the use of memorizing so much information only to regurgitate it back during exams. It didn’t make my life any better, it didn’t make me a more skillful and resourceful person. To be honest, after exams I used to forget most of what I had just done. Nowadays I can barely recall what I studied then.
I wanted to learn how to be a decent adult, how to manage living on my own, first aid, self-defense, cooking, fixing stuff around the house and more creative things.
I have so much going on in my mind now that I started writing about the education system in Brazil that I think I will just drop it and go back to where I started.
When I was seventeen I didn’t have the faintest idea of what I wanted to do with my life. God, I still don’t. I went through our University brochure picking out what I definitely didn’t want to do – medicine, law, IT, etc. I eventually settled for English and my teachers thought it was a waste of good grades.
I passed on the first place.
I couldn’t have done much being educated in a town where traditional careers like law and medicine are still regarded as the best one can follow. I wasn’t taught to be creative and daring. I was taught to get into University, get a job and settle.
And that is what I did. In part, anyway. In four years I graduated as a teacher and had already been working for two years. I was restless. I didn’t want to do that. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed teaching and I was quite good at it, but I couldn’t allow myself to get comfortable.
I knew there was more to life, so I set out to explore it.
Ten years after that first crossroads in my life I have the same familiar feeling of uncertainty and curiosity. I am still not sure about my career choice and that can be frustrating at times but I get to learn new things and choose new paths.
We all do. Always.