My relationship with education is probably like others in that when I was a young kid, I didn’t have a real enjoyment for going to school or to be a good student. My only enjoyment for being at school was to have PE everyday and to see my friends. This feeling, of course, grew as I got older and therefore I didn’t perform well in my classes and repeated the 7th grade and after my 3rd time around in 9th grade (a lot was going on outside of school), I decided to quit high school at the age of 16. My initial thought was to go to vocational school and get a trade, but that didn’t happen an I entered the full time work world as an 18 year old after trying to become a boxer (actually, my grand-father told me that if I wasn’t going to school then I needed to work and boxing wasn’t going to pay the bills).
A pro boxer at the gym was a bicycle courier in the city where I am from, Washington D.C. and he was making good money and I knew how to ride a bike. How hard could it be? Well, actually it is quite a demanding job if you want to become, at that time, an elite money maker on the streets in the bike courier world. It was back breaking and dangerous work. What other experience did I or any other kid have at 18 years old? And that’s where it all began in understanding that my world would be determined by my experience. I was meeting other couriers that had degrees and had worked the corporate life, yet chose to be on the bike and on the streets 10-12 hours a day no matter the weather. It was eye opening from day one all the way through day 3,650. Ten years of my life was spent in the bike courier world in Washington D.C.. What had I learned? What could I do in life except be a bike courier or dispatcher? All of these questions were starting to weigh on me because now I wasn’t 18 years old anymore. Now I needed to start thinking about my future and what I wanted to do in life.
Times have changed since the days of just doing a good hard day worth of work got you a well paying job or kept you employed. Employers are looking for more bang for their buck and not having anything on paper that says that you know anything, doesn’t keep the pay checks coming in for the most part. So what do you do?
The most important thing that I tell the students that I teach (yes, high school drop out is now a teacher) is that you do not need to know what you’re going to do with the education that you get. Many people study one thing, only to go and do something in their life that has nothing to do with what they had studied. This is fine. The most important thing is that you study something. The other piece of advice that I give them is that, you do not need to go and get a degree from the gate and put yourself into a corner of learning for 4-6 years of your life. Start with getting a certificate or a diploma in a subject that interests you. The two most important things are 1) you are doing some sort of study, and, 2) that it is something that interests you. Once you have those two very basic things worked out, you will begin a road of great benefit and reward (reward doesn’t always mean monetary reward but more loot helps).
What are the benefits?
The most outstanding benefit of getting an education is that you are creating a better you. I know you think that may sound corny or that it’s a trendy thing to say nowadays, but it is so true and you will see it before you even register for the very first class. When you’re looking at classes and different types of programs and questioning your interests in varied subjects, you will start to get a rush of positive energy. You’re mind starts to fast forward in time as to who you will be or where you will be working once you finish that course to be brain surgeon. It’ll do that as you continue to scroll through programs and land on one that fully suits you for that moment in your life (basket weaving). It truly doesn’t matter what you are learning, especially at the beginning of your education journey.
**side bar: what does the word journey mean? ‘A trip, esp, over a long period or a great distance’, is a meaning that Cambridge Dictionary gives. Your education journey is just that, a trip that you start and that long period or great distance may take a long time to reach.
Your life will start to change for the better once that first class is registered for and you are planning your new life as a student. For many people that are later in their life development, that planning and execution of going to work, raising a family, and being a student is a daunting idea to think about. But when you want something badly enough, you will find a way to make the sacrifices that you need to make to do it. You cannot say that you do not have time.
As I mentioned above that I dropped out of school when I was sixteen, I walked into a GED testing center and took the GED exam and passed it by 1 point when I was 24 years old. I didn’t study for it. I didn’t buy a book or know what I was going see on the exam. I just walked in and took it to see if I could pass it. When I was 35, I decided that I needed to have a degree in order to actually get a job that I could make some money at and I did not have any qualifications of any kind. I started taking classes at The Open University of Hong Kong and tried to take as many classes as I could in order to land a great contract as a teacher. In my final year, 2012, I took six classes plus doing a TESL Certificate class 3 nights a week and on Saturdays. In addition to that, I had made a goal to run and finish a full marathon and for some reason made that same year my year to run the Hong Kong Marathon. That meant that I needed to train 4 days a week to be ready to just get through the race. My point of mentioning this is that all of those things I wanted to do badly and made them happen. By the way, I also had a small 3 year daughter at home that needed my attention as well. It often isn’t about not having enough time, but having enough determination in you to get what you want and to sacrifice the right things to get to your goal. I now have a Master’s Degree and hopefully will get accepted into a Doctorate’s Degree this year.
Let’s get back to you now.
The changes that start to happen when you are just getting that one class in is that you start to get an understanding as to what you would like to study next. Very quickly that first class will be finished and you will need to be looking to the next class. That cycle repeats itself over and over and soon you are looking at a certificate, a diploma, a degree or whatever the end result of those courses brings you. Now you’re hungry for more and you’ve also started to make friends with others that are more like minded to you that want to learn more and do more with their life as well. Something about a bird and its feathers flocking together expression comes to mind.
Your confidence in learning things becomes heightened and you start to see that the classes aren’t actually as difficult as you thought they were (things that are interesting to you are way easier to study). That piece of paper that you worked for wasn’t that bad and now you can see yourself having and doing more in terms of studying and your quality of life. That piece of paper now has the power to bring you a better paycheck. You now have the power to do more and to know that you are ready to meet the challenges of the next level of study. If you did a certificate, go for the diploma. If you did the diploma, go for the degree. If you did the degree, go for a graduate degree. You now can wield the power of self so much more because of the newly gained confidence that you have from enduring what ever it was that you went through to get that first class done or that first piece of paper in your pocket.
No matter what class you have taken, no matter what level of study, you will be better and smarter than you were than before you started. Take control of your life. The one thing in life that is constant, is time. The clock never stop moving and soon you’ll be looking back on the last 30 years of your life and you do not want to be asking yourself ‘why didn’t I just take that course?’.
Live life to the fullest and learn as much as you can always and you will be guaranteed happiness forever.