I used to tell myself that I could never regret anything in life as long as I learned a lesson from it, (of course, I also used to tell myself that I could fly, which is how I ended up in traction for eight weeks, but I digress). My belief in that was sorely tested the day I was kicked out of college (for the second time no less.)
College certainly isn’t for everybody and that’s something I proved quite well with my 0.0 GPA (did you know that college has these things called “classes”? and in these classes people “study” from “books”? I was completely flabbergasted to learn that. What’s next, scores and grades based on merit and skill? That’s crazy!)
The first time I was kicked out of college made my parents furious. They tore their hair, ripped their clothes, gnashed their teeth and wailed to the heavens. Which is all bad, but it could have been worse.
The second time I was kicked out of college, it was worse.
There was no wailing, no gnashing, to tearing or ripping, simply a sad look and a light declaration of disappointment. Ah yes, the disappointment, always a million times worse than a slap in the face. It doesn’t bruise you physically, just mentally. You know that you’ve exasperated somebody to the point of frustration and resignation when they say they’re “disappointed.” I’d rather my parents kick me out of the house.
But they didn’t kick me out of the house, so I had to do it myself. With two suitcases and $200 in my pocket, I left my home to make my way in the world, thereby demonstrating to my family once and for all that I was somebody and I would make something of myself!
Didn’t really work that way though. Within a week I was broke and homeless. I lived in the stone cellar at the house of a friend of mine. My friend didn’t actually live in the house, see, he had neglected to pay his electricity bill for about, oh, four months, which means that he spent all of his time enjoying the air-conditioning at his girlfriend’s apartment two towns away, while I suffered through one of the hottest summers I’d ever known, trapped in a dead house with no food. Good times!
Finally, I could take no more. So, I went to the local Army recruiter station. One thing led to another and within a few months I found myself in boot camp at
. Fort Knox
Because I do have (at least some) skill in writing, because I was an English major and because I didn’t know any better. I joined the Army as a journalist. For five years, (including two tours in
motto: Come to Iraq,
you might not die!) I wrote hundreds of news, feature and personality
stories, as well as movie reviews, restaurant reviews and vacation spot
reviews. I learned a great many things and got oodles of real world experience
that I never would have had if I had stayed as an English major in college.
Like how to shoot a gun with one hand while shooting with a camera in the other
one (a very valuable skill that has served me well since I left and became a
marketing director). Or, more practically, how to interview people, talk to
them and ask good questions. I honed my (limited) writing skills. I made
important contacts in the newspaper world and I got my stuff published in
newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs all over the world. I was translated
into a dozen languages and even had some of my pictures featured on CNN and Fox
News, (though bragging that I got something on Fox really isn’t a good thing.)
Getting kicked out of college was what started the chain of events that lead to me becoming a well-respected war correspondent (get a load of the ego on me!) who had his two minutes of fame, (which means I still got 13 more to go.) What I lost by not finishing my education, I more than made of for with experience, knowledge and a whole slew of adventures. So, in the end, I don’t really regret leaving school, because it led to so much more.
Besides, I’m no fool. I signed up for the Montgomery G.I. Bill., meaning I get to go to school for much cheaper, whenever I feel like it. Look out college, I’m gonna get that English degree! Or at least teach all those young whippersnappers the proper way to do a keg stand.