The College Dropout Chronicles (Part 3): What I've learned without school.

This is the final installment of a three-part series... (here is part-one and part-two)

Remember that ball of stress and depression I was talking about? In the four days I spent with my family and dying sister in the hospital, that snowball began to melt. Suddenly, I’m faced with what addicts refer to as, “a moment of clarity.” I’m not saying it was easy. It definitely wasn’t some grand epiphany that came all at once, showing me exactly which path to follow. No, it was convoluted as fuck. In fact, I’m still working at deciphering the whole thing today. 

After my sister passed, I took two weeks off from work and school and stayed at home in the house I spent the better part of my teenage years in. It was strange going from having a completely packed schedule seven days a week to doing nothing at all. The first thing I remember doing was sleeping a great deal. Slowly but surely, my mind began to click back on, and I found myself thinking more and more about the events of the past year. Still for some odd reason, the most depressing event in that whole debacle was my sister snapping into lucidity for a brief moment and asking me, from her hospital bed, what I wanted to do for my birthday. I suppose it was depressing because I knew she wouldn’t be at that birthday.

Regardless of the nature of the whole situation, what I really began to think about was how I felt during the events leading up to my 4 day stay in a hospital. The really scary part was that I don’t recall feeling much at all. I had spent so much time filling my schedule with every possible thing I could, that I suddenly didn’t have time for emotion, sleep, or social interaction. Over the majority of that time, my closest ally was my sister. We talked about everything. I told her more about my life than any of my other family members, so I will never for a second think that I pushed my sister away in her time of need, or that I wasn’t supportive. No, the real takeaway was that I wasn’t thinking about myself at all. I was completely stuck in the notion that I was strong. That there was no need for comfort, and that I could juggle it all without failure. To be honest, I could have juggled it all, but the real failure would be missing out on knowing myself; and I probably would have done it if I kept my life the way it was.

When I got the chance to sit back for that two weeks and do absolutely nothing, I got to thinking about what was truly important to me; and no matter how many pro and con lists I made, school was never on there. When it boils down to it, I need friends, family, and a way to survive. Not that I don’t think education is important, but I’ve never been one to learn through traditional means. In fact, I hate the traditional means. Tell me why it is that every kid in High School has to read The Great Gatsby. Why is it that our entire education is meant to prepare us for one test? Can I take out a loan with an S.A.T score? Fuck no.

My point is that I’ve never been a conventional person, so a conventional education isn’t for me. I’m the type of person who thinks of the big picture first, then how to make that idea a reality. School is the opposite. School is the idea that you need to get all the small parts in your head before you can even start to paint the big picture. I challenge that. I am not using a single thing I used in college now, because college didn’t teach me to think. Hell, college didn’t even teach me how to speak. That was retail and theater.

I regret the time I spent on school, purely because I couldn’t focus on anything. I could have gone to the beach with my sister one last time if I didn’t convince myself that getting a college education was worth spreading myself so thin. That’s not to say that it was a waste of time. I am the person I am today because I experienced things the way I did; and yeah, I may be a college dropout, but I am certainly not down and out. I’m not even a little down. I’m great, I’m the best I’ve ever been. So, to everyone out there who’s trying to rush into college because they think it’s the only way to survive, I want you to think again. I know it’s hard to stop and smell the roses when you’re living life in the fast lane, but thought is the most useful thing when you’re trying to learn who you are.

I close the final part of my saga with this, a list of things that I have learned about myself since I left school. As well as a few things to think about before filling out those college applications:

  1. Success is not everything. In fact, it’s not even half of everything. It’s not even a quarter of everything. What’s important is staying motivated. If you find yourself questioning your actions, maybe it’s time to question where you think you’re headed.
  2. If you are young, delay yourself from making a decision that will effectively chart the trajectory of your life for the next ten years and onward. Live each day as an isolated event, and truly contemplate what it is you do and don’t like. The decision will come to you in time. Hell, it may even be thrown at you.
  3. Don’t be fooled by the green shrubbery and flying frisbees. Not every college is a good college. Do your research, make sure you really read into the programs a school has to offer, because some schools just aren’t worth going to if you aren’t going to find a fulfilling experience in the program of your choice.
  4. Ease yourself into responsibilities. Don’t just pick up a whole bunch of things to do and expect to be great at it right off the bat. This is almost always not the case.
  5. Always always ALWAYS have at least one day off to be leisurely and without commitment. Trust me, it’s absolutely worth it.
  6. Never keep yourself from doing something that you want to do. Though, at the same time don’t be afraid to change your mind at the drop of a hat. It’s only when we lie to ourselves that we get into trouble.

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