Bushels looking for lights to hide

When I was in graduate school, I did an internship in the news department of a local public radio station.

I got it the old-fashioned way.

I knew somebody.

One of my friends from undergrad worked in management at the station, and when he called to ask if there were any interested students in the undergrad internship program I ran, I said no, but there was one grad student who was definitely interested.

I interviewed, got the internship, stayed for a couple months after it ended as a vacation/illness fill-in — I even got paid for it! — and had a ball.

How I reacted to getting the gig is lost to history unless someone else remembers what I told them, because I don’t recall and social media didn’t exist.

But when I could post about something significant in my career — a promotion seven years ago — I just wrote on Facebook what happened and “while it’s more than a little scary, it’s also really exciting!” (The picture at the top of the post is from the going-away party at the office I was leaving due to the promotion.)

That’s probably about as far as I’d ever go in writing about such things, since I think I’m fairly low-key in talking about myself. But it still upset me recently when I saw advice for college students not to say they’re “thrilled” or “humbled” or “overjoyed” to have landed an internship.

“Pleased” or “happy” would suffice, along with perhaps “stoked,” “psyched” or “pumped.”

I get where the guy was coming from — that an internship is hopefully just the first step toward an amazing career that would provide many examples to be “thrilled” or “overjoyed” — but it all seemed very condescending.

It reminded me of the time I heard someone ask what the big deal was over graduating from high school. After all, for most students, they just need to make it through 13 years without dropping out, and they’ll eventually get there.

After all, these are college kids. Sure, the internship may be an opening chapter (often unpaid, which is a whole other issue) in a long, glorious story, but they don’t know that right now. Right now, getting the internship probably is the achievement.

Why wouldn’t they be thrilled or overjoyed?

It reminded me of the time I heard someone ask what the big deal was over graduating from high school. After all, for most students, they just need to make it through 13 years without dropping out, and they’ll eventually get there.

Maybe so, but it is an achievement, possibly the first of many, but even if it isn’t, it comes with ups and downs along the way. Plus, I’ve always appreciated how every student — from the valedictorian to the student who won all the awards to the one who barely scraped by — gets a moment of glory when he or she is called to the stage to pick up a diploma.

To me, that’s a pretty big deal.

Oh, the angst! The drama! The uncertainty! The feelings of “Whatever shall I do?!?!”

But I recently fell into Wise Elder mode myself.

I spent some time around a teenage girl and her parents, and she spent a lot of time talking about … teenage boys.

Oh, the angst! The drama! The uncertainty! The feelings of “Whatever shall I do?!?!”

She’s a wonderful kid, and any boy she looks at with both eyes at the same time is lucky, but as it was happening, I was thinking — with the “wisdom” I have gained in my many years — that these teenage infatuations may come to nothing by the time she’s old enough to get married.

And then the rest of my brain slapped the Wise Elder and gave it a talking-to.

“Hey dummy, she’s a teenager. This is her life. This is what she knows. This is what matters to her. And … oh by the way … you were a teenager once. Remember what that was like?”

Fair enough, and just in case, I’ll take the chicken dish over the beef, or the beef instead of the fish.

8 thoughts on “Bushels looking for lights to hide

  1. I agree with you. I’d hope that a college student would be thrilled about getting an internship, would want to tell people, would express a positive emotion about it. My mother often told me not to hide my light under a bushel. Difficult to believe that’s no longer a good idea.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s a shame that we’re discouraging our young people from celebrating their accomplishments. We should all feel free to celebrate all of our accomplishments.

    My daughter graduated high school this year and, thanks to COVID, there’s no graduation ceremony and no grad photos. I’m sad that we have to pick up her diploma at the school and watch a pre-recorded video “celebration”. Yes, she’ll have other things to celebrate in the future, but graduating high school is a big achievement at this stage of her life that will pass with no fanfare.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: The week gone by — Aug. 1 – A Silly Place

  4. I saw that LinkedIn post (and I think I “liked” your comment on it, too). I totally agree — I think it’s very condescending to turn to someone and say “stop being excited because this won’t excite you in 5 years, trust me, I know.” There’s enough in life to be sad or angry about…shouldn’t we celebrate the good things that come up? Hell, I think we should be encouraging people to celebrate *more* not *less*.

    Liked by 1 person

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