Thursday, October 27, 2011

Guest Author: Phill Pappas

I thought about dropping out of college the summer after my freshman year. I was building 2004-2005 Ford F-150s on the assembly line in Dearborn, Michigan, and I loved the job. I would have continued working for Ford had the auto-workers union not gone into holdouts around my 80th day – I was on an 89 day contract with Ford. I returned for my sophomore year two weeks later.

I thought about dropping out of college the summer after my sophomore year. I was competing as an amateur boxer, traveling the country with the Crown Boxing Club, based out of Lansing, Michigan, and I decided to take a year off from school to concentrate on fighting. I won a national championship that summer in the men’s 165 pound novice division. Two months later I discovered that I needed reconstructive surgery on my right shoulder. Surgery was scheduled for that winter, and I spent my year off from school working and rehabbing my shoulder. 

In hindsight, it really feels as if I was looking for any excuse to not continue my education in the traditional system. School didn’t inspire me the way boxing did. School didn’t give me the satisfaction that the weekly paychecks from Ford did. I simply felt that I didn’t belong. Sure, I liked my friends, partying, and the occasional class, but I found myself in the exact same place that I had been in middle and high school – out of place.

I could get by in the classroom, I was always good at getting by, but getting by only takes you so far. To be honest, I was almost incapable of learning. I couldn’t pay attention in class, I didn’t do any of the readings, I didn’t know how to study, I barely did homework, and when it came time to take a test I was pretty much at the mercy of the gods, so to speak. 

So what changed? I’m not sure, but I do know that it wasn’t sudden – there was no miracle. After those first two years in college, I spent the next five years gradually developing the skills to operate within the educational system, and, eventually, I began to excel.

I was part of an ADHD support group in college, and it was at our meetings where I began to hear similar stories to my own. The continuous struggles of operating within a system, year after year, that refuses to adapt to us, but that we must adapt to. And it was at these meetings I discovered that I wanted a book written by a person who struggled through college,figured some things out, and eventually excelled. After I graduated, I decided that I didn’t want to wait around for someone else to write that book, so I wrote it. Why? Because, why not? I don’t even know if it’s any good, but I do know that every time I pick it up and read a sentence here or there I say, “Oh, I should probably start doing that again.” Because, in the end, I wrote about a state of mind, a concise account of my search for knowledge of self. I hope that it helps you in your journey. 

Phill Pappas


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