I’ve briefly told this story a number of different times but based on a question from a reader, I thought I’d dig into it to make sure it’s all clear.
I suspect every school has a student like Schmitty.
I was a weird sophomore (maybe freshman) in high school when I met Schmitty.
There were cool kids. Then there were the normal kids. Then there were the oddballs and dorks like I was (most of the time.) Then there were the other categories of students. If I had to pick one for Schmitty, I’d say he was a stoner but he definitely transcended the cliches.
The first time I met Schmitty he approached me trying to sell something that was a little less than legal at the time. We were in the locker room after gym class.
One thing I always appreciated about drug dealers is that they always appreciate business enough to be friendly to the weirdos like me. I could have been the least cool kid in school and I think Schmitty would have still come up to me with a stoner smile offering me a great deal.
He was friendly and we started up a conversation. Once he realized I wasn’t going to be doing any business with him he scuttled off to another group of kids but he was polite about it.
From that point forward, Schmitty and I would talk every once in a while. We never got close but he was always a fun guy to talk to. He always had a smile on his face and you’d never feel worse having talked to him because he was so darn friendly.
I thought of him as a lovable loser stoner friend…
The guy wasn’t just a lovable loser stoner thought. I learned that when I learned I was the loser there…
Good Grades Come In Strange Packages
I was showing my report card to some friends (and probably whining about the C’s) when Schmitty approached the group to share his story. I was surrounded by disappointed students like myself and I think we all wanted a bit of a boost to our egos.
One of the guys asked Schmitty how he was scoring.
And I think we all honestly thought this would make us feel better. I certainly thought that. We would be thinking, “yea we scored bad but at least it wasn’t Schmitty baAAAaa… WHAT?!?”
“What the hell Schmitty!?!? How dare you transcend stereotypes and make me feel like a fool!”
Schmitty was an A student.
He was one of the most laid back and happy guys I’d ever met but somehow he ended up crushing my scores in virtually every class.
I was working long hours to learn this stuff. I was struggling during class. I was trying really hard (or I thought I was.) I was wearing myself to the nub (I don’t know what a nub is to be completely honest) but my results were crap.
In that instant, the error of my ways became blatant like the smell of fish in a car after a long hot day. (Don’t ask how I know that.)
“He’s Just Smart… Right?”
All the other people in my group were convinced that Schmitty was just naturally gifted. They thought he was born with intelligence. He didn’t do anything special. He was just the recipient of good genes and good fortune.
I think that’s what most students want to think when they see something like that.
It’s easy to assume that it’s fate. It takes all the blame off yourself. It’s not your fault you’re not doing similarly well. It’s just unfortunate luck.
I can’t say whether it’s luck or not but honestly, at the time, I didn’t even consider luck a possibility.
Everyone else dismissed Schmitty as a lucky guy. I was convinced he had everything figured out.
I thought, if I could get grades almost as good as his while being half as happy as he was, I’d be set. I envied him.
I got curious about the guy and I started asking him questions.
What Schmitty Talked About
When I asked about how much Schmitty studied, he was pretty dismissive of the topic.
Ultimately, he told me that he doesn’t really study. He instead talked about how he just focuses really good during class. (He may have implied certain illegal substances were involved. At the time, I completely dismissed those as a factor. I doubt they helped.)
It kind of made sense because I was scribbling pictures of my own hand on the margins of my paper while the teacher lectured something about something or another. I always zoned out during class. If I wasn’t scribbling something then I was daydreaming.
He talked about how he focused on certain stuff in different classes. He got into the basic strategies but we never talked enough to get into the nitty-gritty details about what he does.
Eventually, we got to his personal life…
Happiness Is A Choice
This is the lesson that I should have learned from Schmitty first but I still struggle with it.
Schmitty actually had a hard life.
His drug issues led to some serious consequences for the guy. His family relationships were crap. He had every reason to be miserable but somehow this guy seemed to brighten the day of everyone he was around.
It’s not necessary to dig into the details and quite frankly, I haven’t heard from the guy in years, so I’m not sure if it’s appropriate.
He was happy despite his crappy circumstances in life.
At the time, the only thing I got from him is this:
The typical strategies are based on a deeply flawed premise. There is a better way to get good grades.
Schmitty may have been a colorful example of this in action but I’m sure you know someone like him.
There are students scoring high in a stress free way.
You can be one of those students.
Let me tell you (an inappropriate) true story…
It was high school Spanish class…
I was a Senior in a class of Sophomores. There was one other Senior in the class. Best of all –
She was smokin’ (as the old folk say.) She was gorgeous. 10 out of 10. Tight jeans. And she always sat right in front of me in class (gulp.)
We were the only Seniors in the class. By default… that made me the coolest guy there… And trust me… I’m never the coolest guy there.
But we’d talk. Sometimes in class she’d lean over. I’d continue to pretend me importa la espanol stuff pero… Seriousamente… 😛
Sure… I’d show up to class. But my brain rarely stuck around for the lecture. And that’s why you might not be surprised I was getting a C- in class.
It’s funny how that stuff that distracted me in highschool wasn’t so problematic in college where I took a double course load and still scored near the top of my class…
You don’t need to be perfect to score near perfect.
You just need to know how…