I took a philosophy class last year and during one of the last seminars my TA was talking about Michel Foucault’s account of docile bodies. A docile body briefly explained is what society wants us to grow up to be; someone middle-class who will work for the rest of their life, never rebelling, never breaking through the invisible, yet so distinct and thick walls of social norms, never reaching their true potential and never realizing their dreams.
Just before the end of the seminar my TA stopped. He put down his book and stared at us for just a second with a mixed look of frustration and sympathy. He gathered himself and began to tell us something I think we all needed to hear. Recalling it as best as I can it went something like this: University isn’t just some place you go to take courses, study, write tests to get good grades to get a degree to get a job where you will spend the rest of your life working. Forget all about that for a second. Although it might be hidden behind all the stresses one runs into during university, this is also a place for you to learn new skills, learn how to deal with the real world and stress, meet new people, socialize, explore, laugh, party and have fun! There is more to university than schoolwork, he finished saying.
I’m not trying to convince people to rebel and give up on schoolwork however. All I am trying to say is don’t let it consume 100% of your time here at university. This isn’t just the “necessary” part of your life where you learn to become an adult or an accountant or a doctor, it is a part of your life just as much as elementary school was, and just as much as adulthood will be, so don’t rush through it only to wish that you had spent a little more time enjoying it.
Another piece of advice I would like to share about avoiding the ill-fated life of a docile body comes from what I’ve learned on my co-op experience at BioLinc. That is that, no matter what your discipline the possibilities are endless as to what you can achieve and where you may end up. Being in Neuroscience myself had me convinced that I had to follow either a research or medical oriented career path, however this couldn’t be further from the truth. Working at BioLinc and seeing all these entrepreneurial people in the process of bringing their innovative ideas to life has really changed my life, and I don’t mean that in the cliché way that it sounds. It has really shown me that what you may have once thought of as “impossible” is most definitely possible when you surround yourself with the right people and that is exactly where I am at BioLinc. You have the ability to start whatever company, develop whatever product or provide whatever service you wish. You may not have learned directly how to do so, but that’s where the hidden skills university has taught you and collaboration come into play. We don’t have enough time to learn how to be a one-man-team, so network and keep your bridges well maintained because you never know when one of your connections will end up being the missing piece to your puzzle.
One more thing the members of BioLinc have taught me is to have faith in myself and my ideas. There is no skepticism here: “You have an idea? OK, lets see how to approach this and make it work”. They believe that no matter what your dream you shouldn’t be held back from giving it a shot and if it doesn’t work out you have only gained a valuable life experience. It is evident through the two projects I am now working on that they have inspired me beyond belief and for that I am grateful.
As a final note I’d like to say this:
There is more to university than grades and a degree. You have no set path in this world, as you are unique. Do not be held back by what you think society, professors, parents, friends or anyone else thinks you should do. You can truly achieve what ever it is you want if you are willing to go the distance; there is no goal too high, there is no dream too bold, so aim wherever you like, but there’s nothing stopping you from hitting the moon.
Ethan A. Foy, BSc Honours Neuroscience Co-op