Dropping Out of College Was the Best Decision I Could Have Made

It’s been over 11 years since I dropped out of college, and it has turned out to be one of the best life choices I have ever made.  My only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner. 

Straight out of high school, I really had no clue who I was, or what I wanted out of life (I knew my mom wanted me to become a Lutheran minister, and I was strongly considering it if only to make her happy).  When I signed up for classes at a local community college, I ended up majoring in business and minoring in music (I guess I wanted to open a…Music business?).  My class-load was not terribly heavy, but I still had a hard time dragging myself out of bed for my earlier classes, and after a few weeks stopped attending them.  No one seemed to care, so eventually I stopped going to my other classes as well, opting to wander around campus, hang out in the library, or go to more interesting classes that I hadn’t actually signed up for.  Well I couldn’t keep this up forever, at least not without someone getting wise to my shenanigans, so I had to come clean.

I ended up flunking out my first semester, as it was too late to withdraw from my classes.  My parents were not ecstatic (they were even less thrilled in the coming months when they learned I was getting married and moving 1100 miles away).

Sure, the main reason I avoided my classes was laziness, but it seems college has become the lazy option.

I can understand if you have a vision for your future, or a career or vocation that you would like to pursue that requires a degree, but anymore college is just an extension of high school, a way to postpone adulthood.  Not sure what you want to be when you grow up?  that’s fine!  Just change your major 17 times, you’ll get there soon enough.  Why go out into the real world and get real life experiences when you can spend another 4 to 8 years in a classroom?  And hey, If you’re not happy with your degree, that’s okay, you can just come right on back and get another one.

I am eternally grateful to my irresponsible 18 year old self for being lazy, selfish, and reckless.  That one decision propelled me into a life of travel, adventure, and awesomeness (not to mention the lack of debt!).  I may not have a degree, but I have an amazing wife, 4 kids, my own home, and 11 years of real life experience.  (maybe I would have had these things had I finished my degree, but then again, maybe not)

Disclaimer:  Everyone makes their own personal life decisions.  If college is right for you, go for it, just don’t feel like it’s your only option, or that you’re a deadbeat if you don’t have a degree. 

Advertisements

Incurable Laziness

I didn’t make any specific new years resolutions this year, but I did look at the coming year as a clean slate, a new opportunity, and a fresh start.  And I have to tell you, my burst of “New Year Motivation” lasted nearly to March, which is way longer than usual.  I was getting things done around the house, keeping up with my obligations at work, and feeling good about myself in general.  I spent zero time on social media, and could rarely be found wallowing in depression and self-loathing.

Well, now its April, and here I am blogging when I am supposed to be working.  My motivation has left, and in its place is incurable laziness.  It’s making my work more difficult, making my home life more difficult, and really dragging me down emotionally.  and I just can’t seem to shake it.  I can’t seem to get back on the inspiration bus.

Part of the problem may be that I have no clear aim in life.  No ultimate goal or direction.  Or maybe its the constant nagging feeling of meaninglessness, or fear of failure.  But I’m not completely without hope, because this is just one part of a cycle I have been repeating for years, and soon enough I will be back on top, getting things done, and making stuff happen.  Another reason I am hopeful, is that I have been consistently working to  stretch out the periods of inspiration and productivity, and slowly abbreviate the lazy lump periods.

Letting Go Of Tools That No Longer Work

One of the symptoms of ADHD is a tendency to hyper-focus.  To be unable to remove one’s mind from a certain subject, and to become absolutely absorbed in it, and unable to focus on anything else.  This has both benefits and drawbacks.  One of the drawbacks is that it does not last forever.  Odds are what was enthralling a few months ago, now scarcely receives a second thought.

I am always on the lookout for a new scheme, a new method, a new mantra, or a new program to help me along on my life’s journey.  It could be anything.  A website for keeping track of tasks that need to be done; a phrase to repeat in my head when I am getting frustrated, or losing my cool.

When I find something that works, it is quite exciting.  I make quick progress, and wonder how I ever survived without my new favorite tool.  Everything starts falling into place.  Amazing.  Slowly, however, what was once joy turns to drudgery, and my miracle solution ceases to be miraculous.  I can’t really tell you exactly why this happens, but it does, and it can be quite devastating.  I have grown accustomed to the results that were once produced.  Why is the house so cluttered and messy, when I have been using my fool proof cleaning method?  Why I am constantly dropping the ball at work when I have my never-forget-a-task-again checklist?

There was a time when, to my hurt, I would force myself to keep going, to keep using a tool that is no longer working.  But over time I have discovered that it is better to be happy it worked for as long as it did, and move on.  The less time I spend in mourning, the more time I can spend developing my next big idea.

Inspiration Overload

Even as I attempt to write a blog post, I am reminded of the symptoms of my self-diagnosed combined ADHD.  There is a lot I would like share on this subject (maybe even too much) and sometimes I find it hard to get my ideas to stand in line and wait their turn.

I imagine that in my mind there are two rooms, one where ideas are born, and the other where they are processed into something that can be seen and understood by the outside world.  Between these two rooms there is a door.  For the most part, the ideas are content to stay in the first room.  They don’t even seem to notice the door, never-mind the world the lies beyond.

Oh, but if one of them happens to catch a glimpse, they all rush for the door at once, pushing and clawing, trying to force their way through.  It feels like a power-surge of inspiration, but If I am not prepared, it can end in disappointment, and frustration.  You see, only one idea can fit through the door at a time, and all the time they are struggling to be the one chosen idea, they are also growing.  My mind is filled with so many thoughts going in different directions it feels like Grand Central Station.  In desperation, I grab the idea that looks most promising, shove the others back, slam the door shut, and lock it; hoping I have made the right choice.  Other times, If I happen to have a pen and paper handy, I will write down as many of the ideas as possible, and start working on them one at a time.  If an idea isn’t thoroughly processed (or written down) in a timely manner, there is no telling if or when it will return.

Memory Like a Box of Photographs

There was a time, not so very long ago, that our images were not all neatly and safely tucked away on our digital devices.  Pictures took up actual physical space.  For some of us, that meant stacks of photo albums.  For those of us less organized, however, it meant a box (or boxes) with all our precious memories stuffed in haphazardly.  It was always fun looking through that box, because you never quite knew what you would find.  Grandma baking cookies, fishing with cousin charlie, everyone piled on that old yellow couch.

I don’t know if it has to do with ADHD, but recalling memories can be extremely difficult for me.  I am pretty good at remembering facts, but I often confuse events and get things out of sequence.  In fact, if we were to take our  box of photographs, and dump it on the floor, you would have something similar to my memory.  Looking through it, you may recognize the people (or maybe not), the places, and the furniture, but you may be quite unsure of what exactly these people were doing, or what year it was.

Remembering To Wash Your Bowl

bowl

I recently stumbled upon this Zen story:

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?

The monk replied, “I have eaten.”

Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened.

For some reason, this story really resonated with me.  I, like the monk, was enlightened.  But why?  It seems so simple, after you eat, wash your bowl.  Focus on the task in front of you and carry it on to completion.  Its what Grandma would tell you if she wasn’t holed up in her room surfing the web on her smart phone, and trolling random blogs (Hi Grandma!).

But in today’s always-moving-on-to-the-next-thing society, this is not a truth you can take for granted.  And its not just dishes.  I have so many incomplete tasks floating around out there, I have not only filled my mental sink with dishes, but they have spilled out to cover the counter, and I have started stacking them on the floor.  Honestly, I hardly even cook anymore, I just go out to eat.  Spending my time on tasks that just give the illusion of completeness, like social media, checking my blog’s stats, watching movies, et cetera.

So, from this point forward, until I get tired of it, and decide to quit mid-stream, I am going to finish what I start, and I am going to start less.  I will take it one task at a time, and wash my dish slowly.  Not only that, I’ll do you one better, and dry it.  No.  I will go all out, and put it away.

So, if you are asking yourself, what should I be doing?  How do I find enlightenment?  What is my purpose in life?  Wash your bowl, son.  Wash your bowl.

(If this sounds familiar, it may be because it is a post from my blogger blog, which is no longer active.  If you followed me on blogger, you may have read it there)