For all intents and purposes I was and always have been a terrible student. School for me was a flurry of half-ass assignments, last minute studying and betting on how much class I could miss and still pass. My record (of not failing) was almost flawless; though the overpowering allure of the next door breakfast special, unlimited coffee refills and a morning spare in high school caused a little stumble.
College was much the same. My report card certainly wouldn’t have inspired anything except for maybe a frown before being dropped into the recycling bin; fast tracked onto a fitting next life as toilet paper or something.
Now if my school performance were any indication of my true potential I would have probably ended up a Walmart greeter at best. This isn’t so bad if you’re cool with that but it really doesn’t make a cameo on my bucket list. Thankfully this hasn’t been the case (though the possibilities are endless! … yes, this is sarcasm).
Even if graced with a Delorean so I could shoot back in time for a bit to up my school life game, reflecting on it now, I wouldn’t have done it any differently.
You see, I learned some very important lessons in trying to avoid school, lessons which have served me extremely well in trying to live a life of non-conformity. Here’s a few I was pondering on recently:
Sometimes you just need to get it done by any fucking means necessary
I don’t think I ever wrote an assignment where I gave myself more than 72 hours lead time. Crunch time was usually a very miserable experience for me, receding from the world, filled with manic fever, little sleep, heavy stimulants, occasional creative sourcing, and lots of bullshit, but it got done. Now later in life I do allow myself more time, but sometimes there’s moments where more time isn’t there and things need to get done. A passable finished product in many cases is worth much more than a missing masterpiece.
Everything has a worth thus a priority
In school all work has a worth, I always found it kinda bullshit that 80% of your marks came from 3 or 4 tests throughout the year. At the same time for one who didn’t like being there this allowed me great liberty in choosing what to do and when to attend. Everything requires a certain amount of time, when your time becomes limited, then it’s good to start assessing what will impact you the most or what’s worth the most to you. This is how you determine priority along with what’s expendable, and yes unfortunately there will always be many things that are expendable.
All that matters is the end product, no one cares how you get there
No one has ever asked me for a record of my marks; I passed, that’s all that mattered. All that’s ever mattered is whether or not I was able to deliver and what proof I had that I could. This is one of those things that’s always bothered me about the school system. Teachers can only halfway give a shit whether or not your learned anything and can apply it, they need you to meet the minimum passing metrics for a course regardless of whether you understood so they can say they did their job. This isn’t the case for all, but it’s been my experience with most. The point here is if you’re gunning for anything all that matters is what you produce, you just need to make sure you can deliver everything else is just details.
Find your experts, make them your allies
We all knew that guy/girl who sits there answering all the questions, and killing tests, while barely holding onto consciousness due to boredom or barely in mental attendance due to being wholly wrapped up in the stratosphere of whatever topic. There’s always a few people who just get things. If that’s not you (it certainly isn’t me) then they are your greatest asset. They are almost always the best people to keep in your stable to bounce ideas off of or simply to watch and probe to understand their thinking, process, and habits. Success breeds success for the most part.
Experience teaches everything, including the experience of failing
For me homework was prioritized quite low (why would it be high? you barely got marked for it). What I didn’t yet understand was that I needed a certain minimum dose to understand what I was trying to accomplish. Sometimes you get your priorities wrong because the value isn’t immediately apparent. I’ve always learned the most from action, immersing myself in whatever and asking questions when stumped. I’m not saying this is how everyone works but everyone has a minimum amount of information they need to be able to try something and from there experience becomes the best teacher. Some get caught up in trying to prepare for experience to avoid failure, some try to experience without fully preparing, finding your middle ground and being willing to fail at times in doing so will do a lot more for personal growth than anything.
Set deadlines for anything that’s important and follow through with them
There’s a reason everything in school has a deadline, the year is constrained by a finite amount of time. Everything that’s important is appointed a date on a schedule and everything else is expendable. Life works in much the same way, anything important should be given a deadline, especially the fun stuff that’s important to you. If not it just adds to the pile of shit that you’d like to happen but gets overridden by the things you’re forced to make happen. Treat your wants and ambitions with the same respect you do your job, and your dentist appointments. Not only will these things start to happen but you also become better at determining what’s truly important and what ends up on the cutting block.
Anyways, that’s my thoughts for today.
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