What’s College For

It’s quote from a book day!

The Book: The Empathy Diaries: A Memoir by Sherry Turkle

The Background: Turkle is a Professor, as well as other things. Her memoir covers some of her relationships as well as much about her chosen area of study, which,simply stated, is about how the brain and tech coexist. I’ve done her a bit of a disservice with this, but what she talks about can’t really be summed up. It is pretty enlightening though. The following is what she tells her students.

The Quote: You are at university to understand your gifts and what you love to do. If you are lucky, they will be the same thing.

Which leads to the question:

How many people figure out their passions when they are at college?

How many people ever actually understand their gifts?

Personally- At college, do you know what the greatest thing I learned was? Too much Jack Daniels gives you a three day hangover. I mean, perhaps this is a gift, because I can’t even smell the stuff now without getting queasy…

And maybe my lack of understanding my gifts is why I’m not a memoir writing professor at MIT…

But do people take the time to really figure out their passion while they are young?

I’m going to segue to my daughter, an actual college student.

My daughter has found some things that she is really interested in. She has discovered things that she loves. Has she figured out her “gift”?

Maybe. Maybe not.

When you are in the middle of something, can you always see what is right in front of you?

Ok- now back to me…

Can narcissism be a gift?

I’m 57… and I have no idea what my gift is. Perhaps that is my own failing. I have things I love to do, but if I’m just average at them, can you really call it a gift?

I mean, I can pack a lot of stuff into the trunk of a Honda Civic…did my miss my calling as a professional packer?

I love organizing…is it my gift?

Or how about asking unanswerable questions? I’d like to think that was a gift…I know others will beg to differ though…

What do we mean when we label something a gift?

And more importantly…

What do you think your gift is?

When did you figure out your gift?


I am always questioning guilt: not the law and order duh duh duh guilt, but the guilt that people feel or are made to feel because they did, or didn’t do something. I consider guilt a useless emotion- it rarely does anyone any good.

So now that you know my feelings about guilt, I’ll tell you about a quote (oh no- I’m doing a quote again…)

I’m reading for book club, The Empathy Diaries by Sherry Turkle. It’s a memoir of a Jewish girl growing up in Brooklyn post WWII.

I’m going to give you what she writes, taken from her memories of Rabbi Wagner, who taught Sunday School when she was young: (I believe this was about 1958 when Sherry was 10ish)

Jews, the rabbi explained to his round eyed charges in the basement, lived in a kind of silence about their experience of persecution. Because if you confront gentiles about their crimes against Jews, these gentiles will turn on you. This was not a good thing, he said, but as a survivor, he understood it. You could not live a life among gentiles if you made them feel guilty every day

Sherry Turkle

This stood out to me as I was reading the book.