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At Crossroads III - Goodbye, college? Maybe...

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Written by   43
8 months ago

Long time, no see

Hello,! It's been a long time, hasn't it?

Ho boy, ho boy, lot's of things have happened since I wrote my last article. That time, I was preparing to quit my terrible job that was making me feel miserable and eating away at my soul. Since then?

  • I got a new job, which is infinitely better than the old one. I felt tempted to write about it, but I resisted said temptation, remaining cautious not to do such thing during the honeymoon phase. I won't be fooled again.

    • That being said, the new job really is so much better than the old one. I am paid almost double, have a completely flexible schedule, 100% work-from-home, occasionally get paid literally to just study more programming via Pluralsight, etc. The managers are far friendlier too, and all the plans and demands are given in explicit, unambiguous writing. Also, no more overly-long pointless meetings: we're agile, we're holding less-than-15-minutes-long stand-ups on a daily basis!

  • This extra flexibility allowed me to re-kindly my old hobby: roleplaying. If I can start working whenever I want, and don't have to fear being bugged by an asshole supervisor, I can just begin early, end early, and spend the rest of the day doing whatever I enjoy doing. Hell, this coming-out-of-retirement allowed me to make some new friends.

  • I also got re-introduced to some old, familiar faces, making up with some estranged friends, restoring some old lost friendships, etc. Though, I lost one on January, 2022.

  • Got a new cat. Now I have two cats.

  • Picked up a new hobby: drawing. I also got a Wacom tablet.

So, how did the previous year and the new year treat me so far?

Well, I can confidently say, that compared to the rest of my life, the last five or six months of 2020 (after June or July 2020) and the first nine or ten months of 2021 (before October or September 2021) were a living hell, and so far the lowest point of my life. The lowest point could have been the first couple months of 2021. However, after the September of 2021, things started to improve, with me getting the new and better job, returning to my old hobby, making up with an old estranged friend/frenemy, etc. When 2021 ended, it ended on a high note for me, because my life was - and still is - showing an upward improving tendency.

Sure, the New Year's Eve Celebrations were extremely disappointing: back in the good old days, it was my family tradition to stay up really late (till 2-3 AM) and get wasted on booze that day, but somehow, after 2018ish, my family gradually decided to no longer honour this tradition, and instead just go to bed completely sober at 10 PM. Lame. I was the only one deciding to uphold the family tradition, staying up till 2 AM, watching the disappointing fireworks at midnight, and sighing out of disappointment. Even the fireworks aren't the same. Yet, despite this immense disappointment, 2021 still ended on a high note for me.

So, here I am in 2022, writing an article after such a long gap....

A "gifted" kid's dilemma

Before the segue about how my life changed for the better in the last months gets way too long, I want to rewind "a little", and re-visit how I got into my predicament, and talk about how my life took a bad turn back in 2020. Now, I already wrote a highly whiny article about how miserable my life is/was... I also wrote another article about how I am "too smart for my own good".

But just to reiterate: when I say that I am "too smart for my own good" or "too lucky for my own good", I don't mean it as an ego-trip or to tout my own horn. No, quite the opposite: it's a curse. Healthy Gamer made a pretty spot-on video about why being a "gifted" kid is actually a curse...

... but if you can't be bothered to watch a 35-minute long video, here's the short version:

"Gifted" kids like me excel at academics effortlessly at a young age. In (early) elementary school, they score straight A+-s without studying AT ALL at home after school, they never have to open the book at home because they can just memorize whatever they hear from the teacher, and even if they do open the book, it's a guaranteed straight A+. Academic success and parental praise practically get delivered on a silver plate, at least early on. It's a good thing, right? Wrong! It's a bad thing, because it deprives us of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn how to study, to pick up studying habits, to learn discipline, etc. - while the "dumb" kid may have to struggle hard early on, they develop discipline that will be quite useful later on.

You see, at one point, us gifted kids hit a wall. We hit a point where our intelligence is simply no longer enough to ace tests without actually studying for them, or our luck simply runs out. Either way, we hit a wall. Some of us hit it early enough to learn how to study, but for quite a lot of us, by the time it happens, it's already too late: you're already halfway to adulthood (or are in fact an adult: a college student), and your mind is no longer as malleable as that of a child: picking up new (good) habits is either hard or impossible, dropping bad habits is equally difficult, and you are overburdened by the guilt or shame of having failed to live up to the expectations your parents and teachers set up for you.

In short, us "gifted kids" peak and bloom early, then face steep decline.

But what does this have to do with college?

The College Mistake

I don't regret going to college. I made quite a few friends there. learnt a lot of interesting stuff, my passion for some things I love got sparked, and overall, I had a fun time when I was a full-time student. However, I wasted those seven years in college, as I have nothing to show for those seven years: no diploma. I got kicked out for failing a single subject six times, and there, more than half of my progress is gone. I was just two subjects away from getting a diploma. And now all that progress is gee-oh-enn-ee. Gone.

I instantly re-applied for college, but also became a full-time worker. And so far, it hasn't been working out nicely.

40 hours of work per week is already too much for me, adding in college studies on top of that is just, way over the line. So, despite paying for college tuition, most of the time, I don't even bother to attend lessons, to study for exams, etc. Even exams are unwanted, because they require me to take paid time off - paid time off I could have saved up for holidays.

Before I switched jobs in late September, I was considering leaving my shitty job to focus on college. If I was still at my old job right now, I would have already gone insane I would be seriously considering that. But with my new job, with its steady payment, security and flexibility? No way. No way in hell. Besides, what would I do after finishing college anyway? Return to the labour-force and do exactly what I'm doing right now (working as a software developer)? It seems like such a waste to me, if I got both my old job, and my current job without a college degree. Heck, everyone keeps talking about how college degrees are less and less important as time goes on, and how work experience is the real king.

So why should I even bother paying college tuition, when...

  • ...I can't even be bothered to study, as I already feel very protective of my free time after work?

  • ...I am rightfully skeptical of the increasingly diminishing benefits of acquiring a diploma?

    • So far, I have worked as a software developer for over one and a half year. That should certify me far more, than any diploma.

It all just seems like a major waste to me. What's the point even? Even my mother - who has always been far more adamant on me finishing college than even myself - is suggesting giving up on college.

At crossroads, once again

As of the time of writing this article - 6th of January, 2022 - I am one day ahead from a college exam, and another one next week.

However, the job I switched to, has a probation period of four months, meaning that I'm still on probation: if I suddenly decide to just leave college altogether, they may raise their eyebrows or even possibly fire me. My brother was given a time-limit on completing college to keep his job - I wasn't, at least, not as far as I'm aware.

It's quite possible, that the best course of action is to wait out the end of probation, and then talk to a superior about it, about whether it's fine for me to just ditch my quest to acquire a diploma.

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Written by   43
8 months ago
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