Here’s a fact about me: I have no formal post-secondary education. There were a few (failed) classes here and there, an attempt to grow within the framework of the American education system. It never took—school was just never for me.
So I learned what I could on my own.
And let me tell you—once my wife and I reached a level of comfort in our personal and professional lives, we were able to truly settle down, and I was allowed to cut back on my working time. The process took longer than I liked, but by mid-2016 (which was also the time I decided to make a go at this writing thing), I had a surplus of open time for personal pursuits.
Which meant a lot of reading. A lot of it.
But I digress. No college. No real formal education.
There is always the sense of inadequacy around some of my friends. All of the stuff I know I taught myself, learned independently through a lot of struggle, dogged persistence, and more than a little ill-advised stubbornness. I have considered myself unsophisticated, or stupid, or provincial, or just plain ignorant, even though people tell me otherwise. Even if what they say is true, there is always a reflexive denial of their claim.
How can I really be that smart if there’s so much more that I don’t know? Sure, I figured out how capitalism works and learned to critique its systems, learned how oppressions combine and interlock into a nightmarish existence brought on by years of colonialism, learned what “reactionary” meant and how the term can be applied across a wide swath of right-wing and centrist political ideologies. And okay, yes, I did finally come to the conclusion that I was transgender through an accelerated period of deep reading on queer theory, reflection, and conversations with close friends and my therapist.
Yes, I did teach myself how to play the guitar competently. It’s not that hard! I already knew how to play several different instruments and could read music. Handyman stuff? That’s just watching videos and following directions.
Teaching myself stuff? That’s just what I do.
I’m a dumbass without a college degree of any kind, so I compensate by reading and learning and then feeling dumb afterwards because then I realize that there is much more that I don’t know and that I’ll never know everything but I have to keep going or else I’m going to get lazy and then I’ll really feel stupid and—
My therapist called me an autodidact, which I guess is true. I dunno. Bragging is gauche, but I needed to get it out somewhere, and look, I was self-deprecating the entire time!