From Dropout to Flunkout

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19 October 2020 - From Dropout to Flunkout

Earlier this semester, I made the difficult decision to drop out of University to figure myself out. I was worried I was screwing over my future and that it was a terrible financial decision. Turns out it was the best.

I got an email today that basically says that not only do I owe my school $800 in tuition for the three weeks of the semester I actually attended, but that I am no longer eligeble for the scholarship. It turns out that I not only dropped out of college, but that because I got a C-average (70%) and the minimum requirement for a scholarship was a 71% average, I no longer qualify for scholarship benefits. I was already questioning going back to that Uni or if to look for a cheaper school, but my mind is made up now. Hell, maybe I'll just become a graphic designer or something that doesn't require a diploma! It seems mediocre art is all my head is good for after all...

I know this isn't the end of the world, and materially not much changes for me so long as my parents don't decide I need to pay the $800. I was already planning on leaving my current school anyhow. But this is a blow to my already-fragile ego. The thing is that I now know that I wasn't really leaving the school on my own terms, contrary to what I previously thought. That little bit, not on my own terms, that asterisk makes me feel like shit.

It really does.

I feel like a failure. My entire family has gone to college. All of my grandparents, all of my immediate aunts and uncles and cousins who are older than me, they all have gone. But I am the only one to fail. Growing up, I was praised for "being smart" by family close and extended; for instance, many adults complimented me and my parents on how good of a conversationalist I was as a kid, that I could hold my own with adults by the time I was 6 years old. Even at ages 16 or 17, many thought I might become an aerospace engineer or a software developer or something brainy like that. But instead, I can't even complete my general education. Now, I almost feel like a fallen angel. Gabriel Dropout might as well be the story of my life the past couple years, not the name of a mediocre anime.

Continuing on the theme of fallen glory, I recall one professor in specific back in my first semester of Uni in late 2019. One day, I went into his office during office hours to discuss my grades, as I was getting either a "D" or "F" at the time. At some point in our conversation, he essentially said that "you do good work [implied one of the best in the class], but you never turn it in." I didn't fail to turn in work because I was lazy, it was because I was super easily overwhelmed. I think I got a "C" in that class. I am too easily overwhelmed. What little intelligence or skill I do have is utterly useless if I can translate it neither into the academic space or the real world.

Look, I know I shouldn't beat myself up over all of this, but knowing I have failed is one of the worst feelings possible, IMO. I was raised to believe that failure is inherently bad, or at least generally so. My parents might deny this, and if you take them by their word, then that's generally true. But their actions speak louder, and growing up, I would be reprimanded for making mistakes. Fair enough I suppose, making mistakes is bad. Except, it isn't. Making mistakes and learning from them is actually a good thing. I only started to learn that making mistakes is okay in late 2019/early 2020 talking to my then-bestie Lia about all of this. And when I say "learn," I mean actually internalizing and understanding the message, not just mindlessly nodding in agreement. She doesn't like when I go all perfectionist and beat myself up, and she's only been more adamant about it since we started dating back in late January. I need to fight my negative emotions with logic and care, but it's difficult. I feel that right now, handling this situation properly is a test of what I have learned this year, a proof of how much I have been able to grow. If it's not much, that's okay, because I know I have grown, and sometimes any progress is good progress.

Wish me luck, everyone.

Last updated 19 October 2020