Ramblings of a Tampa engineer

When I was in high school, I convinced myself that I was better in some subjects than other students even though I was doing quite poorly grade wise. My focus simply wasn't in school. I believed my poor grades could be explained by my lack of interest in any class, and that at any moment I could begin to apply a tiny ounce of effort and rise to the top of anyone of my classes. The entire class of students I could group into "try-hards" who cared too much about school and those who cared too little to even show up.

This worked out alright for the most part. I never really had a drive to get into the best college in the nation, but I definitely wouldn't have been allowed with my grades and ACT scores. I was perfectly fine with that. I heard about stories all the time about how which college you attended meant nothing in comparison to what you can do, and how well you can do it. So I ended up a regular state university with an in-state scholarship that isn't even worth bragging about as anyone with half a brain could get it.

I tried to continue my same work ethic at the college level, barely studying until the night before the exam and cramming my homework between classes. This did not work. I found myself 18 weeks in with failing grades in three out of five classes. Surprisingly the only two classes I weren't failing was one that was involved with computers and another about writing. Reading and writing was never my strong suit, as you can tell by my writing in this blog. Compared to the students in my class which I was graded against though, my writing was beautiful. Embarrassingly, that same style of writing in high school barely slide by.

This was embarrassing to me. Any student who looked at me saw a failing student, but had no idea what I could do given a computer. I had become that "cared too little student" that I once labeled in high school.

So I had to make a decision. Obviously, my same style of work ethic that I did during high school wouldn't return low B's like it did before, and it seemed most people only cared about what my grade card said versus what my actual abilities were. I then pledged to actually put forth an effort into school. The 6+ hours I spent daily programming, researching and learning new methods was put aside for studying, making note-cards and actually memorizing this information just so I could regurgitate it later on.

I couldn't fully remove myself from the online world though. I had projects to support, emails to send, and meetings to attend. I felt like I was removing a portion of my personality by dropping this section of my life. I tried to only spend 1-2 hours a day instead of the 6+ I usually would spend, and with that I started school again.

I thought now that was I fully engaged, I would crush any students and show them once and for all that I can compete with them and rise to the top.

To put it simply, I am not the same as them.

The students who obtain the top grades contain an ability to focus like none other. While my grades were substantially better than before, they were never perfect. These students were getting 100%+ while I was coming in barely above 90%. They excelled where I failed. If I met a problem I didn't understand, I would simply Google it and hope that my poor mind could memorize how to solve it again. I tricked myself into believing that I was ready, and it showed on the test.

It was an insult for me to think I could ever be like them. Regardless of the material being studied they can break it down to a bunch of smaller problems tackling them one by one until they know, not think, that they are 100% confident and ready for the exam. While my wandering mind could never keep up the amount of focus required to learn some materials unless it was related to the field I love: computers.

This style of studying reminded me of myself when it comes to programming. How I'll spend sleepless nights perfecting code and scripts trying to avoid any possible problem that may occur. Even delaying release dates because I'm aware of a possible problem and won't push code that I knowingly can see a problem with.

So in a sense we are similar. Most of us out there contain an unstoppable drive and focus to what we love. Some use it for school, other use it for work/hobbies. It's an insult to tell anyone how they should use that ability, and I am guilty for judging others throughout my school career.

I doubt the top-tier kids will have any problems finding a job, since they can break any business problem down and solve it knowing that they won't crumble under a deadline/pressure. Much like I'm confident that I can solve any programming enigma that my boss hands over.

We are all different and obsessed with what we like to do, and I hope that no one else makes the same mistake I did.

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