The trees were beautiful. It was peak fall time in Western New York, the type of scenery you would drive two hours one way just to get an Instagram picture for.
The friends surrounding me were warm and kind.
My mood…was shit.
My exterior environment was blissful, the kind of trip you double-circle on your calendar because you thought it would be the highlight of the month. But my interior world, manifesting on looping loud thoughts and fidgeting, was less than blissful.
We were walking up and down the campus of my Alma Mater; SUNY Geneseo. A place so photogenic the scenery could be on the cover of any American College Magazine – rolling hills, trees with character, and an expansive view into a valley.
My close friend Harrison, his Fiancee Devyn, and I made a quick pit stop at our old college campus for a quick detour post-NYS Yoga Festival at Alleghany State park.
My relationship with that space is complicated, to say the least. To me, it reminds me of the worst version of myself, emotional pain, and regret – to others the best four years of their life. The only concrete lesson I learned from my four years there was how to suppress my emotions with alcohol – talk about a lower education.
Skills acquired: none.
Knowledge retained: next to nothing.
Lasting friendships: almost non-existent.
Romantic life: laughable.
Ironically enough I cultivated a deep friendship with Harrison years after University, which makes me proud of my evolution as a man. We don’t drink together – we discuss engaging ideas. We don’t close our emotions – we open them and help each process them.
The ideal association with your Alma Mater would be one of gratitude and fond memories. Perhaps this is my own delusion, but society tells us a story that college is “the best four years of your life”.
It couldn’t have been further from the truth for me.
I felt dumber after graduating; no valuable market skills, less discipline, a piss-poor dating life all throughout school, and a whole bunch more emotional baggage. Every bar we walked passed sparked memories of blackout drunk nights and every pizzeria’s smell that hit my nostrils reminded me how I used food to eat my feelings. I wasn’t drinking or eating to connect or celebrate, I was consuming to escape.
Thank God for internet college, otherwise, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I stepped onto my path of learning and growth two full years after college after coming across Tim Ferriss and several other internet entrepreneurs.
I was able to retool myself and adopt skills like Web Design, SEO, and Fullstack Development all via teachers on the internet. After graduating from a purely online coding Bootcamp, I signed an employment agreement just 2 months later and landed my highest-paying job ever.
That emotional baggage I talked about? Literally spent more time and money processing it than my entire undergraduate experience – that was my real diploma, the one I’m actually proud of. I continue to surround myself with high-character men and double down on friendships that fill me up – rare of the days of connecting over the Buffalo Bills and drinking, plentiful are the conversations about personal development and fitness.
As for my dating life? Never been more proud of the work I put into that department; have had two of the healthiest and longest romantic relationships of my life post-college, and the future never looked brighter.
I’ve come to understand that I had to find my own path, in my own way, and that my college regrets turned into one of my greatest gifts – the drive to make a change. For me, the moment I left the existing schooling system, is the moment my education started.
As we drove away, with the hilltop campus in the review mirror, I know that my education wasn’t over when I graduated, in fact, my learning journey had just begun the moment I stepped off that graduation stage, all from teachers online.