survival is not an academic skill.
i need to tell myself this when i feel envious, dumb, when i find aly comparing herself to those around her who are more ‘educated.’ i have dropped outta college a bunch of times now. i do not regret this. i am resentful of the systemic reasons why school is such a hard place for me to be. besides sexual harassment and ageism, school was really unaffordable. when i first went, i did pretty well during my first semester. then shit went downhill. paying for school, working nights, and paying rent at 18 years old was kind of impossible. my parents did a really shitty job supporting me in that they convinced me i was never working hard enough, that i didn’t have my priorities straight, that i was lazy. needless to say, that shit got to me. and just thinking about it makes my body remember. makes me shake as i type this. as i’m approaching my mid-20s there are moments i stop and wonder where i’d be, who i’d be now had i ‘stuck it out’ and stayed in school. here’s the thing, i was doing a lot of work to survive in these past seven years. i did stick it out. sometimes i was hungry and ate mostly dumpstered bread with whatever condiments were in the fridge. sometimes the reason why i skipped class was that i’d been working ‘til 11 and didn’t get home ‘til midnight. no, i wasn’t thriving, but did i stick it out? fuck yes i did.
i had to find new people to call my family. i have been fortunate enough to find lots of different places to learn, lots of mentors. i am proud of myself for being able to hold my own in a room full of academics. i am proud of myself for being rather ‘self-directed.’
except, sometimes i don’t feel like i’m doing too well. i ask myself, ‘aly, why aren’t you in grad school by now? why don’t you have a degree?’ the fuck-school-mentality is not super sustainable. and i often long to be challenged, to engage in the rigor that post-secondary offers. then i remember the last time i tried that. ouch. i tell myself, well, you’re older now, more mature. i think that’s true, but immaturity can’t be the sole reason why i’m a drop-out. and family members have described me as too ‘free-spirited’ or ‘too smart’ for school, but smells fishy to me. doesn’t go deep enough. and at the end of the day credentialism is really heavy shit to shake off.
a mentor, who’s kind of a big deal in the deschooling world, once told me ‘school is fine, as long as you use it instrumentally. there’s a lot of validity to that statement. make school work for me. but really, when it comes to me, my situation, my identity, my intersecting oppressions and privileges… what does that mean? i just need to dissociate? i just need to put all my feelings of wrongness on hold? learn to compartmentalize anger and sorrow i experience in response to micro-agressions? that shit’s hard. that mentor is a good guy, also pretty fucking ableist, a white man university professor. and i appreciate him a lot.
but fuck. i can’t do it. not right now anyway. maybe never. and that’s okay.
another mentor, a truer mentor, says stuff like this ‘don’t give up, drop out.’ and i love her for that. she is starting to become more ‘notable’ in the activist/academia world, and in all honestly, she could take off. she could write a book and be fucking famous. but why isn’t she? i can’t speak for her, but i think part of it is fear of being eaten up by that world. of living and working and having her life-work be on somebody else’s terms. the sensitivity to the possibility that the elitism and credentialism bullshit might cloud her judgement, her sense of self.
i’m okay. i may never go to school and get them fancy papers (that would shut a lot of people up and wouldn’t that be wonderful).
but i make art all the time. and money is always tight, but shit!: i am paid to make and facilitate artistic expression at an art and activism centre. i want to build strong communities and spaces where young people can come and learn and not be judged, and know they are brilliant and important. and when i’m not doing that, i am a fucking nanny. nobody can tell me that isn’t meaningful work. i haven’t been in school but i have been figuring out who i am, where i stand, where i am from this whole time. and had i been in school instead… i wouldn’t be who i am now. i wouldn’t know so many of the things i do now. and i wouldn’t be able to brag about shit with quite the same amount and flavour of bad-assery either.
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- kampuchea said: <3 the academy is an effed up place. i can rant about it for daaayyys.
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