Trent at The Simple Dollar posted
today yesterday two days ago (It appears I’m behind on my RSS feeds) a story about a guy he knew in college, who had a dead-end low-paying job as an overnight cashier at a gas station. But when Trent went to visit him, he wasn’t bemoaning his sad situation: he was using his sketchpad and pencils to practice his skills drawing perspective, lighting, shading and so on. Now he’s a graphic designer.
I’ve been talking to one of my friends who’s in high school right now, and thinking how much of a waste (US) high school is. Since the teachers have to assume that students are only paying attention about 20% of the time, they repeat everything 5 times. Which means that there’s really no point in paying attention more than 20% of the time, even if you really do care. So out of the 6 hours of the day you have to spend in class, you only get about an hour and a quarter of useful information. The other 4.75 hours are just wasted. Unless….
What could you do in your situation?
My sister wrote her first novel in high school (the teachers thought she was taking notes). I practiced my writing (primarily in the form of satire, aimed at our teachers, but hey, practice is practice.) But you could also practice:
- Focus Being able to pay attention to what you choose is a useful skill, and one that most of us lack. Don’t believe me? Play this game:
- Get a stop watch
- Hit the start button
- Think about lemons
- As soon as you think about anything other than lemons, hit the stop button
- See if you can get over 10 seconds.
So the next time you’re stuck in a pointless lecture or a useless meeting, practice your focus. Try to listen to what the speaker’s saying, and see how long you can go before you get distracted.
But you could start. The process will take years, so you’d best start quickly. Brainstorm stuff you like to do, and stuff you find easy to do, and stuff people ask you to do. Jot down connections between them. See if any vocations suggest themselves to you, and test them out to see if you really like them as well as you thought. Journal your findings. Brainstorm some more. There are no easy answers, but if you keep asking the questions, you’ll find that the answers eventually take shape.
Don’t be irresponsible
Please note, I am not advocating doing these things at the expense of what you’re supposed to be doing. You really are going to have a hard time if you graduate high school without knowing basic math, and you’re getting paid to do the work your boss gives you. So do what you have to do.
All I’m saying is…if there’s some time left over after that… don’t let it go to waste.
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