School of Life
Everyone how knows me knows how much I adore Ellen Degeneres.
She’s multi-talented, smart,
can hold just about any conversation and makes just about anyone laugh. Not
just celebs that make their routine rounds at shows. We’re talking about the
President of the United
States, his wife and even people who have so
much to be sad about like a woman who never had a house, or a trio of girls who
found themselves handicapped overnight because of a car accident.
Such is the essence of what it means to score full marks in the school of life.
Ellen never went to college. From a middle class family, she only completed high school before she dabbled in some sales jobs. In her commencement speech at Tulane University (where speakers are usually famous alumni), Ellen famously joked to the graduating cohort of 2009: “I never graduated from Tulane or from any university at all. And I’m not saying that you’ve wasted your time or money. But look at me now…I’m a huge celebrity.”
And she’s right: Many of us struggle to put ourselves through school because we have to. Because it’s just the way it is here with the education system. But what most of us fail to see is that education gives us knowledge, not the key to success in life. Ask anyone in the working world whether a degree prepares them for the working world and 90 percent of them will say no. I myself graduated with a degree in journalism but this didn’t prepare me a teeny—weeny bit at all for life in the publishing industry. It’s hours of lectures and theories out the door (unless you want to be an academic, that is).
People say that kids drop out of school because they’re lazy. If it’s anything, I’d say that it’s really quite the opposite: Imagine how much more effort you’d have to put in just to earn yourself a living and to prove yourself. When all your friends are still in the ‘comfort’ of school and fed by their parents, you’ll have to make so much more sacrifices.
Sure, Ellen never completed her studies after college. But she never stopped working hard either. She left school to do:
Most of us would have given up by number six and declared our lives miserable. But Ellen continued. She went on to:
Only on her eighth job did
she find a small measure of success. Between 1994 and 1998, she emerged as a
television personality with her sitcom Ellen. But all these were to come to
nought when she came out in the open to reveal that she’s a lesbian.
Who on earth would do that?
Why? Because being part of the school of life isn’t just about being successful outside of school, but achieving success within your own life. For her, it meant being true to herself rather than hide behind something that she wasn’t. For a while, things stood still for her, but when people realised that it takes a true woman of courage to do such a thing, her fame grew to immense proportions that she’d never imagine.
But the problem with the School of Life is that the semester never ends.
Once you’ve achieved success for yourself, it’s almost too easy to be self-absorbed. Like a kid who’s got top in his class, chances are he’ll never share with you how he got there because he doesn’t want you to beat him at the next test.
Today, Ellen is almost synonymous with helping people out from dire situations. Each time I watch an episode of her show, I know that whenever a family comes out to share that they just crashed their car and their son has lost his ability to walk, chances are, she’s going to (1) give them a brand new car (2) send him for rehab (3) send them to Disneyland for a holiday. Yes, she can do this because she’s rich – but she’s also not one to be afraid of sharing what she’s got and can do to change the world, bit by bit.
Long story short, you don’t need a degree to be successful or to change the world. For the longest time, our education system has been trying to discourage rote learning, but what about this rigid way in which we all go to school because we have to?
Perseverance and passion, on the other hand, are the keys to success. And it’s something which schools can’t teach.