2 February 2018

School Daze - From Genius to Drop Out in 13 Years

Baby Polk had great hair and no clue what was coming.

  I used to be smart.
  Well, book smart anyway...not so much with the life decisions as it turns out.
  School was always easy and I never doubted that I was headed to university at some point and a life as a lawyer or perhaps teacher in my future, with a side of semi famous novelist on the side. And while those dreams persisted for many years, by the time I hit grade 11, it was evident to me and those who knew me that my attention to pursuing higher education had waned and the appearance of drugs, alcohol and bad decisions was taking a premier place in my life. It wasn't a certain event that took me from scholar to scumbag but rather an indifference to the entire process that crept in as I learned just how much effort I actually had to put in to stay ahead of the curve. Making my teachers like me was pretty easy if I behaved, turned in good work and didn't stir the pot. I was quiet, appearing attentive in class and never missing a beat, even when I hardly gave any thought to what I was doing. Their attention was always on the troubled kids, so a supposedly smart one didn't warrant any attention as long as the high marks continued and the behaviour didn't change. I should have seen it coming and maybe they should of too, but the blame falls squarely on me as I knew way earlier than anyone that I was slowly sliding into a morass of doing just enough and not caring anymore.
  The beginning was much like anyone's at school, I enjoyed going and developed an affinity for English, history, math and science very early which had me tested and labelled as advanced in my grade school years. Attempts were made to keep me stimulated with early 80's computer lab programming and skipping ahead in math to the higher grade bringing me some focus and making me work a bit for what I had. Good teachers and parents who wanted nothing but the best for me felt I wasn't ready to skip an entire grade or two, fearful for my social integration, which even then wasn't my strong suit. Looking back is easy but who knows what would have happened if someone pulled the trigger on that move. I don't think it would have made much difference as I was already manipulating the system and taking advantage of my standing as a good kid.
  Then came The Move and I found an even easier way out.
  As a new kid and part of a rather large class with established social hierarchies I fell in with the nerds and some of the kids on the perceived wrong side of the tracks at the same time. A mix-up in my transfer led to me being assigned to math classes way above where I had been and it turned me off the entire thing as I didn't want to bother anyone and struggled for the first time in my life. Instead of buckling down, I began to explore even more ways to make my life easier even as it got more complicated. I kept my grades high but the effort was falling every month, never a good trend as High school loomed.
Grade 8 Grad.
Channelling my inner Punch Imlach

  Going to a private high school for grade nine and abandoning all my new found friends and then quitting that for a local public school after one year left me grasping for some stability and that was where things really started to go off the rails. Perhaps I was searching for something I used to have or coming to the realisation that my youthful burst of intelligence was but a façade that covered up a mostly lazy kid who did just enough to get by. Either way, by Grade 11, it was clear time was up and I had to choose a path, right or wrong, light or dark and when The Party happened, away I went.
One of the few pictures in existence of me from age 17 to 19
I was like the Loch Ness Drunk
  My aptitude for learning never stopped but my ability to sit in a classroom and deal with deadlines and group work was done. I pursued several attempts at going back and even when my aunt and uncle offered to fund my first years tuition if I would enrol in University, it wasn't enough to get me to look at where I was headed.
Working nights at a gas station and hanging out with weird chicks.

 I slogged on with life, ultimately ending up here and now in this moment. Did I miss out on my true calling by abandoning higher education and pursuing my early dreams? An answer I struggle with because had I chosen a different path, I never would have met Kat, nor the other hundreds of people who helped shape the person I am today. I am sure I have made a difference to someone I've mentored or given advice to along the way and that is a comforting thought. I am not a believer in destiny or religion but I always feel like I am where I am solely because of the decisions I made and that is what it is supposed to be. We are the sum total of every choice we make up to this very moment and while shaping my life by not chasing my early promise was something I did unconsciously, it was ultimately the first in a series of things that led me here.
  My true comfort comes by being able to write and share about what I've done and that may be the best thing about what this entire endeavour into craft beer has brought me. A sense of peace with each part of my not so glorious past that I write about. It is almost like once I see the words scroll across the screen, I let go of whatever pain my mistakes caused me go into the universe, troubled by that moment no more.


One more Baby Polk pic because I miss that mop of hair

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