Life of a Dropout
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Life of a Dropout

Going back to school

Photo by Feliphe Schiarolli on Unsplash

Why would I choose to go back to school? For the same reason I left; I believe it’s the best thing for myself. Let me explain this further.

I have spent 4 months outside of school, 5 and a half months if you count summer, and I have learnt a considerable amount about myself, society, and the nature of work during these few months. In many ways I think that during this period I learnt about as much as I had to learn about all the things that aren’t taught in school. In many ways, therefore I am very grateful for this.

During my period as a dropout I worked a ton in multiple projects as part of my job at Orion Startups. All throughout, my boss was very instrumental in this period being as learning-intensive as it were — I think me asking an awful lot of questions also helped, though. My boss, Sebastian, talked me through a lot of the social nuances that come in negotiating and networking. He was also very instrumental in cutting my bullshit, which has helped me a lot in noticing it and cutting it myself.

A lot of what I’ve learned can be summed up in the fact to society is run in entirely social terms. This shouldn’t come as a surprise, it’s in the name, after all, but in my naivety, I used to think that society would run in mostly meritocratic terms. Where you were was a function of your abilities (particularly your intelectual abilities), the effort you put in, and just a tiny fraction due to your ability to connect and sell yourself to people. I’ve been noticing that it is disproportionately all concentrated on the latter one.

Another big thing I’ve learned through these few months, was more a cementation of something I had believed already; that nevertheless how much one despised society, or some of society’s characteristics, that won’t make it any reasonable to hope to change it, specially if the change is very fundamental. This concept doesn’t make me despair any longer since I’ve also come to realize how great our current social setting actually is. I do believe that if one where to bring the best minds of the world, and start designing — from a blank slate — a society perfectly geared to human nature (good and bad) and tasked to maximize human flourishing, one would find that the designed society be 99% equal to the society we live in today. Society and the current capitalistic setting aren’t perfect by any assessment, but calling them inherently flawed would be very stupid. Truth is it’s all better than its ever been, and — citing The Beatles — it’s getting better and better.

Another thing that I’ve learned, being a dropout is a pain in the ass. I might be very successful without it, and something inside of me wants me to for the sake of my ego and proving myself, but reality is that, every success I’d encounter as a dropout, far from being because of it, would be in spite of it. Do most of my beliefs and postules from which I reasoned to drop out hold true? Yes, mostly. Does that matter? Not really. Certainly I could do it, but it would mean an extra amount of effort that would defeat the purpose of dropping out, namely growing into the best possible version of myself. Still, I regret nothing, because I know all of this only makes sense in retrospect, but had I not dropped out it wouldn’t have meant anything. I’d do it again, yes, yet I am going back.

So, I’ve made my choice to finish high school, how will I? I plan on going back to being a student at my former school, Tecnológico de Monterrey (Tec). Why? Again, it all comes down to practicality. Tec’s curriculum is far more advanced than that of Mexico’s secretary of public education (SEP), and since most of my “more flexible” options end up just being a vessel for SEP’s curriculum, I’d have to course almost everything from scratch because both curricula have very few overlap. Being that I am left just one year shy from finishing high school at Tec, I would end up actually spending more time and effort for a certificate of less value. It’d be worse and more expensive.

In finality, I think that the most important thing I’ve learned during this process is a concept I also kind of knew beforehand: the biggest challenge when it comes to your success is managing your own psychology. Most of us are similarly smart, and most of us can have similarly sophisticated social skills, yet the biggest indicator of your success boils down to your ability to deal with failure and adapt to new circumstances, all the while putting as much effort as possible without getting yourself burnt. This is a far more complex and important challenge than I previously believed. I used to think this was important — in conjunction to your knowledge, intelligence, and connections — , but I now know it’s all of it.

During my dropout period, I also had the time and perspective to clarify many things about myself; what I like, what I don’t, my strengths and weaknesses in the workplace, and around meeting new people. I’ve learned to deal with stress and burnout in a real environment — as oppose to high school’s simulated environment.

So, will I leave Orion? Not really. I will keep working as Head of Digital Transformation in addition to school, part time. This is subject to change since I don’t know how much time school will take me now. If it takes me any similar amount of time as ti did before I dropped out, I will be able to sustain the part time commitment (20 hours a week), specially now that my responsibilities have grown more to strategy than concerned with day-to-day operations. All in all, I am extremely happy with the outcomes that have been unfolding in my life recently.



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