Essay 34: This Week

by rosalyster

Impossible, this week, not to think about my own education. Impossible also not to think of my own extraordinary good fortune. Like most parents in South Africa, mine wanted the best for me. Unlike most parents in South Africa, mine were in a position to provide it. I’m lucky. I don’t know how to say it another way than that.

I went to a very good government school, and then a medium-good private school. I did very well in some subjects, and was politely dissuaded from continuing with others. This meant that everything was easy for me. Can’t get the point of the periodic table? Don’t worry about it, friend. Can’t understand algebra to the point that it’s unclear what algebra even is? Take it easy. You don’t need maths where you’re going.  It was assumed that I would apply to university. I did. It was assumed that I would get in. Ditto.

I never tried, once. Is it stupid to say that the system did my trying for me? Up until I was about 21, there was a neon sign saying YOU’LL BE FINE everywhere I turned. It sometimes said DON’T WORRY ABOUT IT SO MUCH THOUGH. So I didn’t.

I don’t know where I would be now, or what I would be doing, if I hadn’t grown up with those neon signs. The point is that all this bootstrap bullshit about poor students must just GET TWO OR SEVEN JOBS AND PAY THEIR OWN FUCKEN WAY gives me the total creeps. I have done a long and searching moral inventory and I feel pretty certain that if I were in that position, I wouldn’t be able to do it. I feel that I probably wouldn’t have the strength for it. Maybe I would – sometimes people are born brave and determined, and sometimes life makes them that way. It’s not definite though – nothing as certain as a high neon sign saying YOU ARE PRETTY MUCH GOING TO BE A-OK IN THIS OLD LIFE. Impossible, this week, not to think about that.