Thursday, March 7, 2024

Microstory 2099: That Slacking Pays Off

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Like I said in the last post, I moved around a lot as a kid, as well as into adulthood, and it had an effect on my schooling. For kindergarten, my parents sent me to a hospital academy in Springfield, Missouri. They had some sort of connection to someone there, but as I was so young, I don’t know much about what it was all about, nor whether it was any better than a regular public school. I ended up moving on to that public school the next year, though, for first and second grade. We moved to Lawrence, Kansas before third grade, so I attended a school where we would walk through a tunnel underneath the street, which is not all that common in Kansas, since we tend to have more space. We moved to Overland Park a year later, so I switched schools yet again. Then for fifth grade, they built a brand new school in the district, and I was zoned there, while most of my peers were not. Notice how I said peers instead of friends. The last person I could confidently call my friend was in Springfield, and he grew up to become a republican, so that relationship was doomed to fail eventually. Anyway, most of the kids in my fifth grade class went to the middle school right next to it, but they rezoned the district again, and I ended up going to the middle school that was generally fed into from the elementary school that I went to for fourth grade, which placed me back with all the kids I thought I would never see again, and in many cases, hoped I wouldn’t. Funny enough, three years later, they built a brand new high school, and most of the kids from my middle school didn’t go there with me. I actually think we technically lived closer to the older high school, but somebody was apparently gerrymandering the school district. I guess it can happen in all levels of government, eh?

After I graduated from grade school, I took a gap year. I didn’t call it that; I doubt I even knew that that was a thing that some people did. My parents didn’t think that I was ready for college, and they were probably right. We didn’t know at the time that I had a diagnosable learning disability, which led to a lack of skills in maturity and socialization, which teachers don’t get paid enough to focus on, especially not since their funding is often dependent upon their students’ standardized test performance. Instead of continuing my education right away, I flew to California, where I volunteered on a farm. The greater organization provided livestock to developing regions of the world, and this particular location was designed to promote awareness of their mission, and educate visitors. My autism bit me in the ass when I was having trouble getting along with the other volunteers, so they kicked me out. I won’t tell you what the organization is called, but they made up these lies about how lazy I was, and how I didn’t do any work, which anyone could see were lies, because they kept changing their reasons. So they’re assholes, and I hate them. I’m the type to hold a grudge, and the only reason I don’t hold more of them is because I have a terrible memory. But I remember this traumatic experience. I’ll never forget how they treated me, and I’ll never support them again. It turned out to be a blessing, though, because Hurricane Katrina destroyed the gulf states soon thereafter, and I decided to take classes with the American Red Cross, and fly down there right away. That’s why I’ve been to Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama. I went home after one round, developed my first staph infection, got it cleared up, and then went back, this time being assigned to Florida, so I finished out the southern row.

After that second stint with the Red Cross was done, I enrolled at my junior college for a few classes, only one of which ultimately transferred properly to my four-year school, which I started the following summer. It’s annoying, really. When you do the math, I am quite certain that I could have graduated from college in three years, extremely plausibly in two. I kept taking summer classes, and took a full load for each term, plus I failed out an entire semester, plus several other classes after that. If everything had gone well, I’m really sure it could have taken me less than three years, I just had too many credits when considering how much I had from dual enrollment during my high school career. I failed too many courses, yet still made it in four years, for that not to be true. If I could go back in time, I would have graduated by the time I turned 21, I’m sure of it. In the real timeline, I graduated in 2010 with a degree in Linguistics, barely eking by with the minimal requirements. For the final semester, I was taking a geography class, because I thought it would be fun, but it turned out to be too technical, so I dropped it, and switched what I thought would be an extra linguistics credit. I literally signed the paper on the very last day allowed, and had to take a test with everyone else on my first day of the new class. I aced it, by the way, even though I had zero time to so much as open the book, so don’t act like you’re not impressed. A few weeks later, I was talking to my advisor when I learned that I needed an A in one of my linguistics classes and a B in the other in order to make the minimum GPA for graduation. If I had not switched classes at the last minute, that would have meant an entire extra term there. Thank God Geography 101 was so boring.

I didn’t learn a whole hell of a lot in school, if I’m being honest. I know that people will argue that I’ve retained more than I realize, but I dunno. I did a lot more studying in the decade afterwards than I did in the four years I was there. I did learn a valuable lesson once. In one of my linguistics classes, I was notoriously absent. I only showed up for tests, and other students’ presentations, because I wanted to be respectful. I didn’t do well on the assignments, and only kept myself afloat with my superior writing skills. That’s a bonus lesson that I learned; that teachers’ standards for writing had to be so low that I could get an A on a paper even if I phoned it in. Give me enough time to craft my words, and I could probably figure out a way to convince you that liquid water was dry. But that’s not the lesson I learned in this class; I already knew that I was a writer by then. No, what I learned there was far more valuable, because it applies to everyone. The other students were more interested and focused, so they formed a study group that I was not a part of. I would like to think that they would get up to entertaining shenanigans like the characters on the show Community, but I will never know. Still, I benefited from their hard work. The final exam was an open notes test, and someone in the study group let me have a copy of their study sheet. I can’t remember how well I did, but it was well enough to pass the class, when really, it should have been another failure. So what did that teach me, that slacking pays off? No. It taught me to trust and believe in others, and to accept help when it’s needed. I don’t have to do everything all on my own, and I shouldn’t want to. Humans are a tribal species, and community—there’s that word again—is the only reason we have managed to advance to the point of dominating this planet. So instead of ignoring people, or dismissing them, try to listen, surrender to their expertise when warranted, and let’s all work together to build a better tomorrow. No one gets through this life alone, and it would suck if they had to.

Oh, PS, I took a few more classes over the years after getting my degree, but we’ll talk more about that in the next post, because I signed up for some of them in the pursuit of figuring out what I could do for a living.

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