My Story

I’ve been doing some introspective thinking lately, about why I’m writing this blog, and what I want to accomplish here. And I thought it was only fair to share what I’ve found.

I’m pissed off. I was betrayed, at many different levels, and in many different ways.

My preparation…

I always did well in school; my dad was a schoolteacher, and he knew how to make learning fun. I have a high IQ, which is supposed to correlate with academic success, and it did.

I was always shy; I have to think through before I say anything, which makes it hard to have a casual conversation, which makes it hard to make friends. In elementary school, my total number of friends could be counted on one hand; in middle school, 2 hands; when I graduated high school I had a couple dozen signatures in my yearbook. No one ever tried to help me with that, and it never affected my ability to succeed in school.

I was always temperamental: I have a tendency to get angry if people don’t rearrange their schedules and their lives to suit me, whether the expectation is reasonable or absurd; I also tend to assume malice in cases where stupidity or negligence would be completely adequate explanation. This rarely came up in school — except for exacerbating my social problems — so it was also ignored.

I went on to college, also did well, and set out to find a job. Since I had been successful in school, I expected to be successful in life.

….and the result

Instead, I learned:

  1. Academic achievements feel awesome for a couple of weeks, and then you go back to feeling empty and listless.
  2. Except in academia, the skills you learned in school — how to memorize large amounts of information, and write 3-page papers analysing that information — don’t help you in any jobs.
  3. Although what you know is important, who you know is also important — people with a bunch of friends, and who are able to make friends, are at a significant advantage.
  4. You can’t accomplish any important goals if you lose your temper dozens of times a day.
  5. There are lots of ways to make money that don’t involve crappy jobs, if only you’re prepared to take advantage of them.

So I’ve spent the last 8 years trying to make up for these deficiencies, and I’m still not done.

Why I’m writing this blog

That’s not even what pisses me off. What pisses me off is that it’s still happening. People are still being sent into the world with these expectations; they’re being “prepared for the real world” in ways that are detrimental to their ability to thrive in the real world.

So that’s why I’m writing this. I hope, that by outlining what I’ve learned, I can save some people some time. Maybe help them make better decisions before they go the wrong way and have to turn back. And ultimately, I’d like to change the system so that people get the education and training they need to succeed in this new “real world” that globalization and automation are creating.

I hope you’ll help me.

  • Susan Thomas

    Catching up (in July) after a long time away ….

    How would you like to be helped? :-)

    When I was employed by the US Army, I once took a two-week class called “Organizational Leadership for Executives.”  It was heavily experiential and focused on how people (including the students) behave in formal organizations and their associated informal associations/alliances.  While quite a few attendees thought the class was way too “touchy-feely” (it had that reputation), I thought it was amazing, powerful, and game-changing.   No amount of studying texts could have had the impact that our role-playing exercises did.  By the time we left, many of us had a much better understanding of what we may have known in our guts about how to change the world, from the bottom-up if necessary.

    I particularly wish a class or course like this one (with a better title) could be adapted for every junior or senior high school, where kids are being exposed to these aspects of life without any concerted attempt whatsoever to expose them to a framework of how and why people routinely behave, and how to “negotiate” through those systems (friends, cliques, faculty, parents, etc.).  (The only Sociology class I took, in college, didn’t really get below population or class levels.)  I appreciate your post about taking a busload of kids on an extended trip, where cultural comparisons were undoubtedly allowing at least consideration of these concepts.