Throughout this book, what have you actually learned? Not much, really. Not in the grand scheme of things. This is a tiny portion of the total amount of learning that you will do throughout the course of your lifetime. Of all the books that I hope you end up reading after this book (hopefully I’ve left you with no lack of curiosity on other subjects), this will end up a distant memory in the rearview of your success. That’s exactly how I’d like it to be.
The goal of this book was not to convince you to forego college or drop out of high school to go get your GED, though I surely hope that with what you have learned and will learn in the near future that you would find yourself fully capable of doing so. I don’t want you to emulate the path of Jobs, Gates, me, your friend, your parents, or anyone. You should have gained some frameworks throughout this book to analyze your own decision making and find the answers for yourself in accordance with your own values. There isn’t ever just one right answer, but there are plenty of wrong answers, and your ability to succeed in navigating these wrong choices and options will be the key to your success, no matter what that may end up looking like.
This is more than a barebones field guide to life and work. It’s a calling card for those who do things differently. The aversion to college and education that I drive home in this book has always been to prove a point. Those who hailed me as “smart” in school because of my grades were wrong. You could not possibly label me as smart because of my grades. You could not possibly project my future based on my grades. In fact, the numbers on my report card mean nothing! Of course, when I say that, then I start to truly wonder: if my grades mean nothing, and my grades are excellent, then what does that mean for me when I go out into the real world? Logically, I have to do the real work required to become successful in the things that I want to do rather than sit back and hope that my grades take me places. (Whatever that means.) So, I set out to figure it out, and in the next few years after I graduate (or officially drop out), I hope to continue to prove that point, but it all starts with what I’m doing now. I hope this has been a fantastic beginning.
No matter what your path entails, you will use at least some of the things you learned here. At the end of the day, you won’t need the degree or the diploma that you may receive. Those things may help you and will possibly make it a bit easier or more secure of a path, but that won’t be what made you successful in the end. It’ll be the work-centric mindset that tells you to relentlessly pursue what’s in front of you, just like all the great dropouts did.
I’ve made some assumptions throughout this book, namely that you’re a bit of a troublemaker and you care to forge your own path. I assume that you have a higher sense of purpose than mere survival or financial sustainability. These are assumptions that may, in the scope of another book, be dangerous. Here, however, I think it’s only fair. If you weren’t these things, I don’t think that you would have made it to this conclusion. Maybe they aren’t assumptions as much as they are a recognition of a fundamental truth—an ethic, a value system that binds us as dropouts together. It’s not about where we are or where we are going, it’s about the way we go on the adventure. Are we misfits? Rebels? Troublemakers? I sure as hell hope so.
The heart of the dropout is not only resilient in nature but rebellious. Our version of success requires us to be different and go against the grain in the best ways possible. Just the thought of traveling the same road as everyone else kills us, and that’s a big burden to carry around. We’re happy to carry it.
Maybe none of this has anything to do with success after all. Perhaps this is all about living a happy life. Taking risks and doing the things as of yet undone. Maybe this is just what makes us happy. If that’s the case, as I have come to believe, then here’s to a happy life. May you identify and fill your purpose, and be a person unlike any other. May this be just one book of thousands that you read throughout your lifetime. May you make mistakes and learn from them, and be fearful not of change. May you live a happy life, no matter what that entails. Even if it means being a dropout.
So help us God.