It’s tempting to follow the yellow brick road and fit ourselves into a box. It just makes sense to follow the path laid down for us. Some people follow it and don’t even know they follow it. Others are conscious of the fact that they follow it, and then some of us just literally can not follow the path…
It starts at an early age, teachers are teaching us not only what to learn but how to learn it.
The “problem” (or blessing in disguise) came for me in school, early on. The education system had a “system” to teach, that would lead us down this beautiful yellow brick road, or well it was supposed to. They had a way that they taught that worked for 99% of people, that would get them to the point that they could eventually be employed, make a living, start a family and survive in this world.
But, I wasn’t 99% of people. It didn’t make sense to me. I had a hard time understanding and learning using their system of teaching. It just didn’t make sense and I couldn’t learn that way. No matter how many ways I looked at it or “tried”, it just didn’t work. Unfortunately for me, I grew up in a time that people (teachers and other students) were not as conscious and just looked at me like there was something wrong with me or that I was inferior.
As a child in early grade school, teachers thought something was wrong with me. They thought I had a learning disability or was slower than the other kids. I wasn’t scoring on tests up to par with the other kids, or so they said. I was even given an IQ test by my parents (who didn’t believe anything was wrong with me), but I assumed that I scored very low when I wasn’t immediately given the results.
I started failing tests and overall had a very hard time with school. I partially thought that the reason my IQ test results were kept from me was because they were so low that they didn’t want to make me feel stupid, I thought they were trying to protect me. This trend continued through high school and college.
As an example, I would be given a chapter to read on a given topic and then asked to solve a problem for a test using the way of teaching that the book or teacher outlined. I would fail, almost every time – according to them. The interesting part was, I usually never “failed” for the sake of getting the wrong answers as the question was asked. If it was a math problem or something that could be worked out, I would work it out, as it was asked. But, I just wouldn’t work it out the way they taught me or “wanted me” to answer, because that didn’t make sense to me.
Being self taught and accepting it
Eventually I realized that I wasn’t “stupid” and that I didn’t have a learning disability, it was just that I learned differently than others. I learned by doing things, trial and error. Teaching myself things. I learned by getting my hands dirty and just figuring things out. Often times to the point that I couldn’t explain it to someone else, because it wouldn’t make sense to them but it made sense to me.
I couldn’t follow the yellow brick road. In fact, it wasn’t even yellow to me, it was blue and required a space ship and time machine to access it.
No matter how much I studied a text book or tried to learn the traditional way, I just would never learn it that way. I would “fail” every time, according to the education system.
One day, I realized that I needed to focus on me, to do it my own way. I needed to stop caring that I wasn’t “passing” these tests, because the funny part was that tests were much more about the systems ego and “just doing their job” than about me learning.
Creating an empire doing it my own way
Accepting that I wasn’t going to “get anywhere” in this life doing things other peoples way, with my assumed low IQ, was one of the most profound moments in my life. It made total sense to me. Why am I going to live my life and do things someone else’s way, just because they said it should work? That was bizarre and foreign to me, and to this day just makes me laugh when I think about failing tests because I didn’t use the same logic in arriving at the answer that the teacher wanted me to use, or answering a question too literally because the teacher made a lot of assumptions that were never asked. My brain works differently, and that’s not something I can or wanted to “change”.
Instead of curling up in a ball and crying or dying, I made a pact to myself to do things my own way. To highlight my strengths, not focus on my perceived weeknesses and low IQ. Instead of crying about failing a class on marketing, I went and started doing marketing. Not only did I start doing marketing, I had extreme “success” with it. Instead of being frustrated on failing a class on business management, I started a business. Not only did I start a business, I had extreme “success” with it. Did I follow any of the advice given to me in school or by others? Hardly. Only advice from a few people, who I will mention at the end, ever really stuck with me.
I started doing everything that “the system” said I couldn’t do because I wasn’t doing it their way. Not because I was trying to prove anything to anyone, but because I knew I could and I found those things interesting. I knew that the education system was not designed for people like me. It’s far easier for the teachers to teach in a system that applies to 99% than cater to individual students needs.
I stopped following the path completely
I love when people give me advice and try to teach me something. But, do I necessarily take their advice or learn from them? No, I do not. In fact, I rarely listen to anyone. Not in an egotistical way that I think I’m better, but just because at the end of the day if “failure” comes doing it someone else’s way I’ll never know if I could have made it succeed by sticking to MY way.
I do things my own way. Sometimes people don’t like that, that’s fine with me. I can’t make everyone happy. The one thing that I can say without a shadow of a doubt, is that I believe in myself. I stand behind my actions.
I was very lucky as a kid, because with all those things that were going on, two people did believe in me. My parents. Remember the IQ test I mentioned earlier? The one that I didn’t get the results on? Well, it turns out, that later on I did eventually demand to see the results and I didn’t score ridiculously low… in fact, I scored ridiculously high… They weren’t trying to hide it from me because the score was low and that might hurt me, but what they really did was something that was much much more profound, they didn’t tell me because it challenged me to accept who I am and accept that I think differently. I can’t thank them enough.
I’ll listen to everyone that I think has something valuable or interesting to say, but I don’t always do what they say and how they say it, because that’s not me! This is who I am. I wont be fit into anyone’s “box”.