College daze – where I ended up a happy failure

Some say your college days are supposed to be one of the best times in your life.

I guess I was an anomaly. I was dazed through my college days and not in a pleasant way.

It’s odd because I thrived in high school — honor society, near the top of my class, quite popular, and so on. For some reason it didn’t translate to college.

I first went to New College down in Sarasota. I thought it would be a great fit – small (like my high school), unorthodox education methods that stressed independence, and students that were generally rebels and misfits outside of mainstream society.

That’s me.

It didn’t work. I had no passion — it was as if a switch had turned off and I was done. Doubly odd because I’m a passionate learner.

After less than a year I petitioned to withdraw. I was surprised when the New College folk encouraged me to stay and keep trying.

Surprised because by then I was slacking with classes and homework. My grades merited probationary status, the campus police had issues with me (too many friends sleeping over in my dorm, roomies rats escaping from pet snake, a friend drove drunk across campus into a ditch, etc., etc.).

Maybe they wanted me to stay because I was being a true rebel.

Still, I declined.

Thinking I needed to go to a college with a strong computer program to stoke my passion (once a computer nerd, always a computer nerd), I gave the University of Florida a try next.

Things didn’t go any better there.

Once again I was skipping classes (but not Gator football games!) and homework, had dorm issues (mostly from having a military brat as a roomie — baaaad fit), girlfriend problems (I couldn’t decide if I loved her or not), I was annoyed with professors insisting I learn outdated computer languages, etc. etc.

Somehow I managed to accrue nearly two years worth of credits but by then I was a goner — I bolted out of my dorm early into my own place, my grades were riddled with the letter “I” (incomplete, which is exactly how I felt), and I was thoroughly burnt out from anything to do with education.

One day I simply stopped showing up. I was done.

A silly decision in retrospect, perhaps. But solid for me at the time. I knew I couldn’t do it anymore and it didn’t make sense to keep throwing money away doing nothing.

Thinking back, what I remember acutely was very much feeling like an alien on campus. I never fit in as much as I tried. Was it my deafness? I don’t think so – it’s never been an issue. I simply was a fish out of water gasping for relevance and passion.

The whole thing was living a repetitive dream I couldn’t wake out of. I’d keep repeating shit over and over and nothing worked.

Not long after I walked away, I found my passion again by finding a good job with my computer experience (although I was eventually passed over for a promotion because of my deafness — that’s another story for later).

I started thriving again and even bootstraped a computer consulting business on the side.

The fog went away.

Because I was happy.

That was the crux of it all: I just was not a happy camper in college.

I guess it’s not for everyone, even a computer geek like me.

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