Going to school sucked.
It sucked getting up in the morning.
Doing homework sucked.
Memorizing formulas sucked.
Being forced to read books sucked.
Outside of maybe a few experiences like sports, friends, and a couple good teachers, it pretty much all sucked.
And it sucked because you were forced to be there.
Even if you were “good” at school, getting good grades, were you actually happy and pursing what YOU wanted?
And this all happened for 15,000 hours over 12+ years!
Due to the school environment, you likely lost a deep sense of curiosity, creativity, and individuality by learning to follow the rules, sit still, and not stand out from the crowd.
The question becomes, how did all that time affect your life and career?
Well, probably in many ways.
The good news you can heal. You can bounce back.
All it takes is awareness and a little willingness to rekindle the natural curiosity you had as a young child.
From there, you have the building blocks to lead a life of purpose and conviction.
1) Be Honest about what School Did to You
The first step is to be honest about what school did to you as a kid. And this can feel uncomfortable. But I encourage you to “hug the cactus” and compassionately welcome the truth about your early years here on the planet.
Sitting in desks all day, the constant threat of “getting in trouble”, the lack of choice of what you learned…was that really meeting your needs?
It’s easy to rationalize and say “it wasn’t that bad.” And maybe that’s true, when you compare it to kids who had it even worse (be it broken family or extra-worse inner city school).
But the truth is even in a “good” school, you learned to sit down, sit still, and not question authority. Will you let this truth sink in, or will you evade it?
“Wherever I go in the United States these days I hear of something called the crisis of discipline, how children are not motivated, how they resist learning. That is nonsense, of course. Children resist teaching, as they should, but nobody resists learning.”
— John Taylor Gatto
2) Be Curious
Curiosity is the antidote to the schooled mindset. Turn inward and ask yourself, “huh, what do I actually want to learn?” You’ll be on your way!
Watch out for the voices that say you “should” learn X, Y, or Z. That’s the teacher-voice speaking, the one who told you what you were “supposed to” learn to become “well-rounded.”
All that is nonsense.
It’s true that school maybe exposed you to information, but it also IM-posed that information on you.
What you want is the freedom and space to play and learn!
That means curiosity!
Be wild and free. Maybe you’re interested in sports cars, learning to yo-yo, ancient civilizations, fly fishing techniques, conspiracy theories, the history of hip-hop, or literally anything.
The key is just to start with your genuine curiosity, to feed it.
Curiosity begets curiosity!
And yes, this WILL translate into your career. Because as you feed your curiosity, you come more alive, and become inspired to integrate this sense of vitality into your daily doing and being. You’ll start to get curious about certain roles, companies, and opportunities that resonate with your individuality.
But you need to start where you are. Don’t force curiosity. Just get some sparks flying like the start of a warm campfire. 🙂
“We all start with a small, harmless blob of curiosity, and we can ignore it, and maybe it will even die out or go away, just dissipate. But if we feed it, the more that curiosity consumes, the more it expands, and the more we find the world as a whole to be fascinating.”
3) Create something even if sucks
Perfectionism is a symptom of a schooled mind.
Counteract it by creating, even creating “badly.”
Unfortunately, failure is seen as a terrible thing in school. For real, a grade of an “F” is the worst! It means absolute failure, to be avoided at all costs.
But that’s not the truth about failure, it’s the just how the artificial environment of school framed it.
In the real world, you’re meant to create and learn as you go.
So build the courage to create something today, even if it sucks. And know you’ll get better over time.
4) Meet People of All Ages
School segregates us by age, and we can become uncomfortable meeting people who are younger or older than us, thinking that’s “weird.”
But to build a power social web in your career, it behooves you to connect with people of all ages!
Age doesn’t matter so much, so can you let it go?
5) Listen to Deschool Yourself Podcast
This 8-part podcast gem from 2017 goes deep into this topic. Do yourself a favor and start listening.
6) Let Go of Permission
In school you learned to ask for permission all the time. “Can I read this book after the test?” “Can I use a pencil instead of a pen?” Or even, “Can I go to the bathroom?”
And that was the deal for again, 15,000 hours!
How has the permission-based-wait-for-the-teacher’s-approval mindset affected your ability to pursue what you want in Your One Life here on this planet?
Shed the permission-based mindset. Go do something bold like send a video pitch. You don’t have to ask anyone if it’s okay.
7) Let Go of Comparison
Conformity was yet another hidden lesson of school…blend in with the cliques and crowds, don’t be “too cool for school,” and definitely don’t be “that kid” who’s always asking questions during a lecture.
We learn to compare ourselves to others, basically as a way to survive the forced socialization of school.
Can you begin to de-condition these old patterns and mindsets? Let go of beliefs, feelings, and trust yourself to go forge your own path, and discover and do what makes you come alive. You are worthy of it!
In school they taught you to write a “conclusion” to your essay. Nah. This thing is done. ; )