What does formal education mean? What does it signify? Does it mean you are smart if you have it and stupid if you don’t?
Whatever our answer to that question is, one thing is for sure—schooling forms every person. Like cookie-cutter forms, the school system shapes everyone to think, do and behave in a similar way. There are many options of what to study, but the means are all the same. The problem is, we are not all the same and we don’t all process information in the same way.
For a true artist, the school system can be the most soul-crushing, demoralizing experience. I am an artist at heart but I also have a very academic part of me. Fortunately, this unusual balance of artistic and academic parts has (finally) found its niche in writing and I am able to express my art through the written word. I was able to enjoy school (thanks to being an art major), but I understand and know those who can’t. So this post is dedicated to all you artists out there, struggling to make it in the “real world.”
I attended a great concert last night, the band was fantastic and the singer was amazing. His voice beautiful, his words poetry and he sang his heart out, baring his soul in front of an audience of strangers. In a chance chat afterward, this artist admitted to me that he had dropped out of school and so he wasn’t smart like his sister. What a travesty for him to think this! His words echoed in my mind the rest of the evening and I just kept thinking that dropping out of school was probably the best thing he could have done for himself. Who knows, if he had stayed in school and followed the path to getting a ‘real job’ and settling down…he wouldn’t be on tour and I wouldn’t have watched him perform.
Now, I am not condoning the quitting of school for kids that don’t like it. But I am saying that there are some people that just can’t conform to that way of life because they have something better to offer. Decades ago, the idea was that a college education was the path to living the best life. But now we find that a college degree doesn’t guarantee anything. The world is overloaded with lawyers and office workers and deficient in passionate creators doing what they love.
So if you are a true artist, or have a clear calling and are struggling to live in the “real world”, do yourself a favor—follow your heart, do what makes you feel alive! We only have one shot at this life and it’s pointless spending it trying to be something you’re not. And please, don’t feel stupid if you are just different. The most famous genius said it best:
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.” –Albert Einstein