Suck it up and get back to class. The people who tell you you're stupid and you'll die in the streets are right. Do you ever wonder why they would tell you this? If you think 4 years of school is a long time try spending 40 years making a living with your back because you can't get a job where you can use your brain. Without an education, life has nothing to offer and nobody cares how smart you are. Anyone who tells you different wants you to end up (and will see you end up) a fellow loser, and despite what you may have seen on TV there is nothing cool about riding a 20" bike in your twenties, dumpster diving for aluminum cans or having a cable spool for a dinner table.
Oh, and in case you hadn't guessed, I was that guy. I was like you and although I did graduate it was by the skin of my teeth. I then spent a couple of decades working for a succession of chimps who took from me in every way every chance they had. My defining moment was when I was first asked in an interview a devastatingly simple question, which went something like "Why would I hire you when the last guy and the guy after you both have degrees?" Try coming up with an intelligent answer to that one, and practice it, because you'll be using it a lot. When you have no education, you spend your life being robbed on every level, and eventually it can break your spirit and/or body. I finally wound up disabled from work-related injuries at the age of 42, and since it happened in a federal job I managed to medically retire. I was one of the lucky ones; many less blessed people in the same situation end up with nothing. You've seen them-they're the ones on the street corners with the bulging shopping carts, the filthy clothes and the cardboard signs. Many have lost their teeth. Some have lost their minds. All have lost their humanity.
Over the course of my working life I was always poor (not broke, and yes, there is a difference), I never had a decent car, and I had nothing on the horizon but more of the same. I did manage to buck the odds and graduate from college at 45, but after all the self congratulation had died down I found myself at the bottom of a pile of fellow grads who were half my age and twice as sharp. The second career I dreamed of for so many years never happened, and the thoughts I still have about how much more I could have been and done in my time here are never far from my mind. There is truth to the adage that those who start late seldom catch up. I'm also still poor-40% of my base pay doesn't buy much. I'll be one of those guys who takes Social Security early just to survive.
As for those well-meaning but impossibly outdated people who tell you that they made it without an education, good for them. They succeeded in a time that allowed for such nostalgic things and in a world that no longer exists. As an analogy, in those days roughly half the cars sold in America came without A/C and you often ordered it as an option. Once carmakers figured out that including it as standard equipment meant that cars would still sell that option disappeared. The same thing later happened with custom wheels, paint and sound/entertainment systems. Nowadays there is no such thing as a base model and the reason is simple: why settle for less when you can have more? Apply this logic to hiring and you get the picture.
Finally, I'd like to close with a quote that was passed on to me by a Cadet friend at the Air Force Academy:
"Whenever someone says 'I'm not book smart, but I'm street smart' all I hear is 'I'm not real smart, but I'm imaginary smart.'"
That's reality, and it sucks a hell of a lot more than school.
Report · Oct 3