Birmingham Southern College
New York City, Author/Speaker/Consultant. Areas of expertise are: Digital Marketing, Business Process Optimization,and Future of Work
[Editor's note: check out Taylor's book, The End of Jobs: Money, Meaning and Freedom Without the 9-to-5]
Ha! No. I did not even know any aspect of what I do now even existed.
St. George’s, compared with other schools, is a bit quirky and weird. I think the biggest club my senior year was unicycling. At the time, I thought that was sort of weird and felt a bit insecure about it with friends from other schools. As it turns out though, life is quirky and weird, and it’s a lot more fun to learn to roll with that then to try and force yourself into some perceived notion of “how you should be."
Playing sports at St. George’s probably helped me more than anything else. Understanding how to work with other people in a competitive environment is a table-stakes life skill.
Yes, as mentioned before, it’s sort of quirky. I am a bit quirky. I think everyone is quirky, though many people work very hard to put on the show that they aren’t. I think more than at other schools, that’s cool at St. George’s. The sooner you can get to the point where you can just say “I’m weird and that’s ok,” I think you’ll have a much better life.
How terrible to have to choose. Heidi Rubin, J.P. Culley, Dodd Gegenbach, Ken Netherland, Brent Hill, Tony Cherone, Mr. and Mrs. Smothers all come to mind and that’s just high school. Mr. Gorham was my wrestling coach and taught a social justice class which profoundly impacted my life trajectory. That class and the book he gave me at graduation (Guns, Germs and Steel) sent me on a path that included five years working in Argentina, Brazil, Thailand, and Vietnam.
Embrace Your Weird. Like many high schoolers, I always felt somewhat out of place. I wouldn’t have had the self-awareness to say that at the time, but it’s so obviously true in retrospect. Memphis and St. George’s is a very small slice of the world. It’s a real blessing to have a home and a rock but it’s also good to explore from that. If you feel like perhaps you’d like to try something different then all your friends, that doesn’t mean something is wrong with you, it means you should listen to that.
It’s hard to give this kind of advice because it’s trying to explain something that can’t really be explained without experiencing it. Imagine trying to explain music to someone who has never listened to music: “it’s like, uh, really wonderful sounding and you dance to it.” It doesn’t really work without just listening to a song. In the same way, you can’t really give advice about exploring except to just yell EXPLORE really loudly and shake the person to hope they hear you.
I would also say not to take school too seriously. If I have one regret from high school and college, it’s probably that I took it too seriously. I say that as someone who is a bit Type A and prone to study a lot. That being said, most of the valuable skills I’ve developed have been tangential if not totally unrelated to “official studies.” Start a side project, pick up a craft, learn to code, write short stories – whatever gets you excited. Academic success is a very small component of success in the “real world.” Work on what gets you excited, just don’t fail out :)
From the point of view of someone who has fairly recently entered the labor market, most of the things people evaluate in a school don’t make much sense. I say that mainly thinking about college but it’s just as true of high school. I’ve had three jobs in three completely different industries and run my own company now. Not once has a potential employer or client asked me where I went to school, what I studied, or what my GPA was. They have asked me about my Twitter and Blog. I’ve never made a resume. This is probably atypical for people my age but it’s certainly the way things are moving. What did me a great service was the notion that it’s ok to explore and to be a little weird. That led me to into doing something I didn’t even know existed and that is more fun and interesting than anything I could have imagined. It’s a brave and exciting new world.
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