We all hear it, “If you don’t go to college you won’t get a job. A degree is worth EVERYTHING.”
(I just threw up in my mouth a little even having to type that).
I know almost every single person in my generation felt the pressure to go straight to college after high school.
I felt it.
I did it.
And it was terrible.
Here’s the thing, at 18 you have absolutely no idea who you are. They don’t even trust you enough to be able to rent a hotel room without fucking it up… but yet they expect you to decide what you want to do for the rest of your life.
My whole life I wanted to be a doctor. And, I realized I was going to have to go to college (obvs). However, I wanted to take a little time to get to know myself after high school. What I really wanted to do more than anything was join the Peace Corps.
Traveling the world, giving back, learning so much about different cultures and myself along the way. It all just seemed so magical and so right.
But, do you think that went over well in my small town?
The first time the words “Peace Corps instead of college” came out of my mouth I thought the people around me were going to call for an exorcism. And, being as how my small town life was all I had ever known I figured I obviously was making the wrong decision, I mean I wasn’t an adult so what did I know?
So, I applied to a bunch of different colleges. Got accepted to all of my top choices but since I am a walking, talking cliché I chose somewhere close to home just so I could stay near my high school boyfriend (because that was going to work out…) instead of going to my dream school the next state over.
Needless to say, the relationship I stayed close to home for didn’t even last until my first semester. And I was absolutely miserable. Sure, I liked learning about everything. I’ve always been the kind of person that craves knowledge. But, at the end of each day I was so unfulfilled.
I knew that there was more that I could be doing, more that I needed to find out about myself.
Fast forward to four years later and I was a shell. I hated going to school more than anything. I hated my job at the local pharmacy. Everything in my life seemed so muted, so dull.
I mean, I was still going out with my friends, still dating, still doing all of the things that I was supposed to do and that was fine, but I just needed something more.
So, I left. I had a bad experience in a hospital involving blood, realized that being a doctor just wasn’t for me, and I left college. Within the next month I was working for the company that I’m currently employed for and let me tell ya, it’s been a blessing.
I’ve grown so much with this company. I’m able to volunteer for local charities through them. And they’ve given me so much room to develop.
I remember telling my grandma that I was leaving college and I have never seen someone look so upset. She thought I was making the biggest mistake of my life. However, it ended up being the best decision I’ve ever made.
Now, I fully believe that college and higher education is an amazing thing. Truly, I do. However, I do think that not everyone is made to walk that path, or at least not right away.
If I had known myself a little better, if I had been confident enough to stand up for myself and my future I never would have gone to college right after high school. I would have joined the Peace Corps. I would have lived before I tied myself down to life.
Things ended up working out pretty well for me in the long run. But, I always question what would have happened if I wouldn’t have listened to every one else. What would I have learned? What connections would I have made? How would life be different for me now?
Maybe I’d still be here in my one bedroom apartment writing this blog post, maybe I’d be married, maybe I’d be the CEO of my own charity… who the hell knows.
But, I do know this: Everyone is made to walk a different path. Not everyone is meant to go to college right away, or ever, for that matter. Success does not look the same to everyone.
I’m proud of the things I’ve done and the work that I’ve put in to becoming the person that I am. I don’t regret the choices that I’ve made thus far and that includes leaving college when I did.
Leaving allowed me to really discover who I am. And now, when I go back I’ll know for sure how to go about it. I have had every intention of going back since I made the decision to leave. I just didn’t want to waste my time and money trying to figure myself out while still in college.
I know plenty of people that doing the whole college after high school thing worked out for. I just wasn’t one of them. And frankly, I think that’s just fine.
Walk that path you feel is right for you. Don’t be like me and do something just because others want you to. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, and know it’ll all work out in the long run.