Call Me a Dropout
15 days after releasing The Dropout Manifesto, I've officially made an exit from school. I was supposed to graduate in one year's time, but all that has gone to the wayside.
Here's the rundown:
- I've "graduated" a year early.
- I'm still getting a diploma. (Which I'll probably never use.)
- I begin working on June 1, 2018.
No, I didn't get a graduation ceremony. I didn't walk a stage. I was not actually handed a diploma, either. At least not yet. It's supposed to come in the mail. Not sure where it's supposed to go after that...
My "graduation" was remarkably... unremarkable. I showed up at a small office in an old and quite frankly dingy office park. It was no modern school building, and didn't really seem like a school building at all. It was the sort of place that makes you ask yourself, "How the hell did I end up here?"
Nonetheless, I walked in, checked in at the front desk, and I was taken into a very small room with five other students like me who were taking this test to get a diploma and get out of high school as quickly as possible. 35 minutes later, I finished my test and left the room. Voila! I'm a high school graduate.
It is truly remarkable how easy it is to graduate and get a diploma of some sorts. I'll admit, this is a tier 2 diploma and it's about as close to a GED as you can get without getting a GED, but it's a diploma nonetheless. 4–year universities won't look at it with bright eyes, but community college won't look at it with scorn!
In a half hour, I obtained a diploma approximately equivalent to the one I was going to stay in school for another year for.
Needless to say, I saved myself some time.
Some might think I've "dropped out of school" with no plan and only a couple ounces of raw ambition to fuel me along. That's the usual image of a dropout, after all. I suppose you can call me a dropout at this point. This was definitely not the path I was supposed to go on. But I'm here anyways.
Luckily, I do have a plan, and at least some skillset that I hope will be valuable to my future employers. I start working on June 1 at a tech company in downtown Austin, TX, and I'll be working as a copywriter for the next three months.
If you're wondering how I got this job, it's simple:
I am living what I preach in The Dropout Manifesto.
Hijacking mentors, arguably the most valuable section of that entire book, has afforded me countless opportunities. I seriously dropped out without dropping out a long time ago. Yes, my grades reflected it, but I sort of knew this was coming. The stakes were low once I realized that I actually could make it without school. Teachers no longer had the leverage of failing me, because I wasn't worried about failing their class. (That was a good feeling.) I realized that I had educated myself enough (and been blessed with the mentorship and teaching of others) to truly not need school.
About 8 months ago, I showed up to school 30 minutes early and walked into my art teacher's classroom and asked to use the whiteboard. I drew up this elaborate plan to educate myself on graphic design, practice the skill, and build a portfolio worthy of getting me a job by the summer of 2018. I then asked my teacher what she thought. She seemed to give it a nod of approval.
In the 8 months since then, I've learned a whole lot. I became a much better designer and even started a small operation to do design work under. That practice has pivoted significantly after 4 paid projects, and I learned a lot in the process. I'll be the first to admit I'm not of Pentagram pedigree, but I built a modest portfolio of design projects and met a lot of awesome people in the process.
I was also introduced to a world that I never thought I'd be a part of: writing. I wrote a book, for one, which was the most meaningful project I've ever taken on. I sharpened my skill as a writer throughout that project and churned out thousands and thousands of words to get it done. I met some awesome people that helped me through it, and before you know it, I've ended up here.
I've written more words in the last 3 months than I probably have in my entire life, and this skill is how I'm making an entrance into my career. I thought it would be design, but alas, it isn't. The beautiful thing is that I very well may end up doing something completely different in the next year or 5, and that's exciting. A lot more exciting than another year of the classroom.
I get to learn quickly and fail quicker, if that's how it's destined to go. Rather than wait and see, I get to go and play the game. Sure, there are plenty of reasons that I should've stayed in high school and prolonged my childhood, but perhaps the fact that I still think of adult life as a fun and exciting game rather than a burden to be delayed is what will make the experience worth it.
At least that's the hope.