I Failed Out Of Virginia Tech; well I was put on academic probation.

Starting my day at the call center, I would finish my cigarette and walk in 5 minutes before my scheduled time; fuck it, man, I didn’t want to be in that place; I didn’t want to see those people; I didn’t want to be there; I didn’t want to get kicked out of Virginia Tech either, but that’s what happened; I was put on academic probation and forced to take a minimum of 1 semester off; I didn’t have to go back if I didn’t want to return.

I didn’t have anywhere to go; getting a job at the local customer support center, I found a job making around $8/hour at like 40 hours a week; bills were paid.

Engineering school is hard.  Virginia Tech, the mechanical program, is one of the toughest engineering programs in the United States.  I believe that half the students, when I started, didn’t make it to the last day of the 1st year.  We always wondered who was going to fail out, give up or otherwise leave the program.  Engineering was called pre-business.  That’s where people would go.

The 1st year I did ok; I survived and got through to the 2nd year.  The 2nd and 3rd year grades were up and down.  I’M NOT A GOOD STUDENT. I mean, I have always struggled in class.  I graduated high school with honors, barely.  I got into the Engineering department at Virginia Tech as a provisional student.  I think that meant that they didn’t think I’ld make it; but, also couldn’t say no.  I had also applied to a business school as a backup.  I ended up being accepted in both places; Virginia Tech responded 1st.  I accepted the offer to attend engineering school, again, provisionally.

Call center jobs don’t make millionaires.

I start my day by picking up my headset.  Check in and start answering calls. I hang up my headphones at the end of my shift and head to the parking lot.  Get in my car and start the drive back to the apartment to watch TV and get ready for my next shift.  My co-workers have BBQs on the weekends.  Some live in trailers; we all are lower class.  The hope is to work hard for the promotion.  The hope is to be less lower class, financially. The hope of many is to have this job be the foundation upon which you build your life, your marriage, your weekends, your kids going to baseball games and your buddies drinking at the lake with fishing poles.  The New River is near Roanoke; that was my escape.  My addiction was going out to the river and wadding around the water; it was late after thunderstorms and avoiding lightning as I drove around the backroads of rural Virginia.  It was my escape from life; but, it wasn’t my life.  It wasn’t the life that I wanted.  I didn’t work SOOO FUCKING hard through high school to spend my weekends BBQ’ing with Dick and Jane at their trailer listening to their kids baseball games.

It’s not a slight.

It’s a reality that I DID NOT WANT THAT LIFE.

I saw the other side.

I saw the other side of living that life when you don’t finish college.  When you don’t get a white collar job.  When you don’t work for your career.  You work for Friday.

I call it the other side; because we live 2 seperate lives, people.  The liberals and the conservatives; working for the family; working for the self; moments spent being around others; escapes from the rationalization of living simply to breath another day.  Some people have hobbies, I think; I have dreams.

In 2004, I graduated from the mechanical engineering program with a 3.0 GPA in my major.

I saw the other side; it wasn’t for me.

I experienced what that life was life; I rejected it.

I still do.

I think that there’s 2 main dreams that EVERYONE has:

  1. To retire at 30

  2. To make $1 million dollars before 30

When this deadline is passed, everything else just becomes waiting; waiting for the house; waiting for the marriage; waiting for the retirement; waiting for the retirement watch; waiting to die.

I resigned from my job on October 7th, 2010.  I had no plan.  I had no savings.  I had no illusions of what the other side of failing at 30 looked like.  I rejected it.

Life didn’t suddenly get magical; I wasted my savings, retirement plan, and maxed out my credit cards before eventually filing bankruptcy and getting a part-time job delivering food to supplement a monthly medical stipend, that after several years of rejecting, I accepted.

The other side of success at 30 is not pretty.  It’s not glamourous, as much as we want to think it would appear.

It’s nice.

That’s the best word that I can use to describe it.

It’s nice.  It’s nice to spend my dinners with my daughter and family; it’s nice to work later then I should; it’s nice to get up early; it’s nice.

I would love to say that it’s FUCKING BADASS AS A MOTHERFUCKING ALL, but that’s not really the word that I would use.

It’s nice.

I LOVE my life; I found happiness and it’s not always fireworks; it’s moments of decision; moments of change; moments of discovery.

Perhaps you think that you didn’t retire at 30, but I bet that you did.

I bet you stopped working and started nice moments.  That’s really all it is about.

Rush hour traffic and coffee; even when you are not doing what you want; deep down, I suspect, you are doing EXACTLY what you want to do.

We never fail.

Until we know the other side, how can we appreciate this side?

Jamie Smith

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