You can spend so much time in life trying to make person after person see your vision for yourself, and convincing them why it’s worthwhile, or why its best. And it’s all a complete waste of time. Because in the end, if they never saw it from the beginning, then they never really truly do. It’s very hard to find people who believe in your dreams. Vision is just one of those unique things. Even if you achieve every goal you wanted, whatever else, if others didn’t see what you saw from the beginning, they’ll still chalk up whatever you achieve to some kind of fluke. And I speak from experience.
No one thought me quitting college more than halfway through before I finished my degree was a good idea. Not a single person. Even my girlfriend at the time had a hard time relating, because she was a valedictorian, and the college thing worked for her. And maybe in a way it wasn’t the sensible idea, maybe on some level it would have made “sense” to finish out the last year. It was “only a year” after-all, like many people had said to me. And I could have gotten a nice bachelors degree on my record, to go with my associates degree, which would have been like a person buying a nice piece of jewelry for themselves. It would have looked nice, but meant absolutely nothing. I’ve gone out of my way to ask every employer I’ve had the opportunity to speak to if me having an associates degree in college, or if me having a bachelors degree would have made any difference. Not one said it did. A CEO said to me, “Sometimes we use it to separate certain candidates from others, but if there is someone we feel is a good hire, based on their skills, interview, or whatever else, we never ignore that.” And as an entrepreneur myself now, it certainly makes no difference to me either. This trend will only continue to accelerate in the coming years.
I didn’t do what I did because it was what made sense to most people, I did it because I couldn’t spend another day, let alone semester, or year, not taking my life where I knew I wanted it to go. And paying for it on top of that. I couldn’t look myself in the mirror anymore without saying, “why are you not living YOUR life?” The life I was living wasn’t necessarily bad, but make no mistake about it, it wasn’t mine. And don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t an overnight sensation, it was years of seeing the job landscape, learning a ton, failing a ton, reading a ton, talking to many people, experiencing the good and the bad of college firsthand, but once I did realize, it was an epiphany. And when you have an epiphany you have to follow through with it no matter how many people discourage it. It’s your epiphany. It’s not because they don’t want whats best for you, at least not most of them, it’s just because they can’t see what you do. So naturally I had to face the reactions of “Hows college? Oh you’re not in college anymore? Whats wrong? What happened? You’re doing what instead?” Because I had taken myself off the factory assembly line of what your “supposed to do” in order to have a good life. People were genuinely concerned. I had to ignore the advice of a lot of good intentioned, relatively successful people who just never really did anything outside of the box in their life, and couldn’t understand. Big deal. Now it definitely wasn’t as easy to look the people in the face who helped encourage, and pay for my three years of college and say, ‘Well that was essentially useless.’ But I did what I had to do. I did not have a road map, or a mentor in this fashion, and I believe that is what drives me to this day to reach other people through writing and public speaking.
Where did that unpopular decision get me? I found work in various positions that helped me learn what I liked, and didn’t like. I DIDN’T like interning (not getting paid). I DIDN’T like following orders. The harder I worked, I found myself getting promotions, and in positions that would have seemed over my head. It took me about two months to get the hang of what a college university would have told us would take 4 years. And each time, I had the willingness to quit each great job and say ‘You know what? I want something that I’d like even better, with better hours, dealing with less levels of management, and a more flexible schedule.’ And when it came time to attempt to start my own business, I did that with minimal hesitation. Most of all, I learned that ultimately, I don’t want to work for anyone but myself, which led me down my current path.
During that journey I also found some amazing people who shared my vision, believed in it, and didn’t need so much of the convincing that everyone in past did. When I look back now, I want to tell my friends, my nephews, my future children, anyone who will listen. In case they are in the same position now, or ever. I wasn’t born different than anyone else. It’s not because I’m so much smarter than anyone else. It’s not because of money, luck, or any of that stuff. It’s only a matter of having the balls to take risks, to accept the criticism, make the sacrifices, and live the life that I want.
I was invited back to the University I quit a couple years later, by old professors of mine to speak to their class. Afterward, some of them asked me for advice. I saw student after student, either clueless or hopeless about their career future, looking for answers. Disbelief on their faces. “Just go to college they said. Everything will be figured out for you they said.” Some of them were facing graduation with their best job prospect being an unpaid internship, or a minimum wage job. Some weren’t even that lucky. It was pathetic, but it could have just as easily been me if I didn’t get out when I did. They gave up control of their own life for convenience, and this is where it had gotten them. Fresh out of high schools that did nothing to prepare them for what lay ahead. I got the chance to learn some things about the university from the inside, talk with students, and sit in on a few classes. It was horrifying. I couldn’t figure out if the school experience was worse than I remembered it, or if I was just seeing things even clearer being out of the bubble. The obvious, dangerous political and ideological indoctrination was on full display, whether you were in Philosophy class, Geography Class, or Algebra class. It was uncomfortable to sit through a class where half the students were being engaged because they were hearing what they wanted to hear, and the other part of the class was silent, because they felt uncomfortable to disagree or challenge the professor or the atmosphere the professor was intent on creating. Or simply didn’t want to have politics corkscrewed into every lecture. These professors are more concerned with pushing their ideologies than teaching the given course. If this is your deliberate choice, to become college educated under these biases because you agree with them, then that is one thing. The problem is that most parents who send and finance their children to these universities, and the students themselves, are completely unaware of any of these things. Very few universities are upfront about this sort of thing. It’s not something you will pick up on during orientation. The cloak is often not removed until you are already enrolled, in the classroom, and knee deep into the semester.
College universities are great example of the idea that the bigger something gets, the more corrupt it becomes. And make no mistake about it, college universities are enormous. There is no depression, or recession in their current life or in their future. Education, is often the only area college universities deem suitable for cost cutting. Tenure is rarely offered these days at many universities, and most have non-tenure teaching tracks. Because of this full-time, tenured professors are the minority at college universities. This prevents students from benefiting from the stability, educational continuity, and mentorship opportunities. Colleges treat their students like customers, their faculty like disposable farm hands, and their leaders like royalty. Financing multi-million dollar marketing campaigns, building monster campus after monster campus, new campus housing after new campus housing, designed to keep students in the university matrix bubble, and money in the universities pockets. You may begin to wonder touring a campus at some point whether you are actually on a college campus, or took a detour into some sort of small town that caters to the wants and wallets of young adults.
College majoring and everything that goes with it, and comes after it, is an illusion for most people. An illusion that they have it all figured out, and they have nothing to ever worry about while they accumulate massive debt, literally gambling on their future. For other people, it’s a four (or more) year delaying of reality, especially if they aren’t paying themselves for college, and they are living on campus in the bubble. Ultimately, it’s something to make themselves, and more importantly other people feel good about them, and where their life is headed. I realize that is a valuable thing to some people. Personally, I’m not interested in that. I don’t like illusions. I’ve become fine with knowing nothing is guaranteed. I know that I’m still figuring things out, and I’m happy about it. I’ll be figuring it out for the rest of my life, and adjusting how I see fit. And that is okay.
Because of the things I’ve already mentioned, I’ve been called lucky more time times than I ever need to hear again. Of course, people mean it as a compliment, so I usually I just laugh and try to correct people with something like “Fortunate is a better word.” I definitely believe strongly in fate, and I’m thankful everyday for any good that has come into my life through means that I can’t control. I’ve had plenty of that, and plenty of blessings. But I remember one time specifically a girl, who I was becoming pretty interested in, listened to me with her eyes wide tell her a pretty detailed story about what my life is like and how I got there, and by the end of it said “Wow, your so lucky…”, as if in her understanding everything had literally come to me by the flip of a coin. For whatever reason, maybe because I had high hopes for her, I got a little more annoyed then usual hearing that word and I said to her completely seriously “Luck is winning the lottery. What I’ve accomplished was hard work. There’s a difference.” It’s pretty silly, but it seemed like from that moment on I just became less attracted to her, and eventually we lost touch. That was two years ago, and people are still mistaking other peoples success as luck, because it seems like we are all starting to forget what hard work looks like in this country. What can actually be accomplished by it. Living through a decade of government responsible for erasing much of what used to be the middle class, making more Americans dependent on government handouts than ever will have that effect. A society where brainwashed, distracted people are practically being discouraged from working, and encouraged to resent wealth, resent job creators, and shamelessly leech off the wage earning taxpayers will have that effect. But just like everything else, even that still doesn’t have to be an excuse for anyone. There are always exceptions. Where there is a will there is a way, even in a bad economy.
Here’s something that most people don’t realize at first. It’s easier to not live your life. Think about when you were a little kid. You weren’t living your life, you were living the life the adults in your life set up for you. Wasn’t that awesome? Wasn’t that life easier? Of course it was. It’s easier to not try and figure this shit out. It’s easier to live on auto pilot and do what your told by your parents, your peers, or by society until your in your 20’s, or for some people, for your entire life. From cradle to grave. That’s why most people do it. And deep down they aren’t happy with their life, and in a way we have no business to judge that, except everyone knows its these people who make everyone else’s lives miserable, because we have to put up with them, and the attitude their bitterness and lack of enthusiasm for their own life brings on.
And I know enough to realize that one of the things I’ve been blessed with is a much broader, clearer vision of my life than most people. Everyone has their own unique gifts, and this could be mine. For whatever reason, I can usually see a few roads ahead, even in spite of the nearest road. I’ve always known inside me that I was meant to do big things in my life. And again, big things how I define them, not material possessions, or fame and fortune, or whatever society defines as “big things”. Simply things I think many people could relate to: wanting more freedom, wanting to spend more time with my family and friends, wanting to travel more, wanting to worry less, wanting a comfortable lifestyle, wanting to make a difference, wanting to someday raise the best family possible. I understand now that part of this clear vision took clearing many clouds out of my thinking, clouds created by doubts, fears, and others wants for me. Once you wake up, your only regret will be not having done it sooner. I guess after the personal setbacks I suffered during my last two years of high school, is exactly when it would have been that my clouds began to clear, and I had this realization that I still had these grand plans. That nothing was going to get in the way. That’s why I always had a problem with school even though I was smart. I had so many big ideas, and so much creativity, like a lot of teenagers do, and that all went to waste sitting in those classes for 8 hours a day going through the motions. I think about how much time was wasted. There was so much I wanted to learn, and slowly I realized almost all of it would have to be on my own time out of the classroom, self taught. My only outlet in high school was sports, if it wasn’t for my motivation to excel in that, I might have really fallen into some bad things just because I had no purpose. I had a problem with adults telling me I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life, for the rest of my life, by the time I was a senior in high school. I was supposed to know it all by 18 years old? I had a problem with the entire game plan that is set up. I think a lot of people are starting to as well. You know the game plan, you’re born, have fun until your about 8, go to school, they wipe the fun out of you, they wipe the individuality out of you, they make you hate learning, then 100k dollars spent on education later, you get a mediocre job, your grateful to merely be employed, and you chase ‘happiness’ as they defined it for you, pay your taxes, save up whatever the government doesn’t already take from your paycheck, and from your retirement to redistribute, then when you’re 60 you retire, time to party, time to enjoy your life, then you have a heart attack at 65, or get cancer at 70, and die. And many are not fortunate enough to even reach that point. So by the time I was 18, and it took me years after that to fully realize it, but by around that time I said fuck that, this is my life, I’m making my own game plan. And looking back, that was the smartest thing I’ve ever done. It was life changing. Even though on one hand it was a learning process, it was also a feeling I had in my gut from the beginning, and I wish I acted on it even sooner.
I remember my first taste of just having the freedom to step back and do what I wanted for awhile was after my first few semesters at a Community College before I transferred to Temple. I was 21, and still on my road to enlightenment so to speak. I had essentially compromised, did what everyone wanted, and nobody expected, by actually going to a community college and doing well, so my parents “allowed” me the spring and summer to do as I pleased before I got into Temple University full time. I had about a 6-8 month period of no school, no job. For the only time in my life since infancy. And it was a blessing. That was such an important time in my life. I had a lot of fun, and spent a lot of time clearing my head, and figuring things out, such as playing the guitar is much harder than it looks. I spent most of the next summer traveling around trying to sell a spec script that I wrote in my free time with a group of guys with absolutely no experience, no connections, and pretty much getting laughed at by every TV executive we reached out to. But that didn’t matter so much as the experience did, and that I took the chance.
I realize part of all that is me being that hyper self-motivated person. I realize that you give most people freedom to do whatever they want, they sit around, chill, procrastinate, get lazy, or get into trouble, and whatever else. Not travel to places they’ve never been, do a bunch of deep thinking about their life, follow their passions, write TV scripts, and try to run their own business. I’m weird that way. You give me enough time to myself, I’ll figure things out. On the other hand if you just keep throwing things at me, and throwing me into things, things are going to go off track. That was my life up until I was 18, until I said “no more of that.” Everyone is different, there’s different levels of self-motivation. We all have passions. And that’s my point, there ARE other people who are at least similar to me out there, or how I was as an 18 or 21 year old, and those people have no outlet or encouragement to take risks, ignore conventional wisdom, embrace their own individuality, and live how they want to live. They’re afraid, and the fear is being reinforced by every direction in their life. Fear kills dreams. Fear kills hope. Fear can hold you back from doing something that you know within yourself your capable of doing, and meant to be doing, but it will paralyze you. Once you start facing fear, every day a little bit, it starts dying. Once you stop making excuses, you progress, and you start growing. And you will be shocked at how things come together.
– Nick Dee