I’ve been asked the question at least 628 times. Probably more.
Are you going to go to college?
And until recently, that question would send me into a spiraling panic attack that would make me question every single decision I’ve ever made. Ever.
I would begin to feel judgement from those around me, whether they actually cared about my answer or not. It felt as if I was being set up on a stage with intense, hot lights shining down on me in anticipation for what I had to say next. So then when they received the answer they were most likely expecting, they could have a reason to have a negative opinion about me. Even though a college education does not define a person unless you make it define them.
But the truth is that I don’t have any plans to go to college.
(Incoming “She’s lazy! She’s a moocher!” thoughts, right? Ha)
Though I don’t have to defend my choices, I will just put this out there. I could if I wanted to. If I ever felt the ever burning desire to enroll myself in a university somewhere, I could. Any time, any day.
In fact, I even love educating myself on anything and everything. Its actually what I do in my spare time. I do extensive research on whatever my mind begins to question, and study books of all kinds to expand my knowledge. (Seriously, just ask my friends and family. They think I’m crazy)
Its not a financial issue whatsoever, its not because I despise learning, its not because I have children, and its not because I have a significant other.
I just cannot, in any way, justify additional schooling.
In today’s society, a college degree is treated like your golden ticket into life. You’re promised a life filled with higher earnings, and with better career options. With a college degree, you’re given the vision that you’ll be able to dress sharply in a tailored suit and drive your newest-model car to your dream job in a modern, shiny skyscraper in the middle of a city. You’re given the vision of creating your own happy, love-filled family with beautiful, perfectionist children that are taught the same extreme value of an education that you were. The typical American Dream, right? Obviously, most of that is not necessarily true.
But that’s not what I want. Not even close.
In the beginning, I really considered it. I did my research on schools, and I even gathered loads of information on my favorites, because at the time, it felt like it was necessary. It honestly felt like the option wasn’t even there. The way to living a happy life was to dedicate yourself to spending long, stressed-out days within the washed-out white walls of various classrooms for four years or more. To live in rooms the size of walk-in closets, and to drink copious amounts of caffeinated beverages in a desperate attempt to stay up. Only to memorize some confusing chapters within books that you’ll never truly care about. No thanks.
However, the stress of not going to college haunted me for the first year and a half after I gave birth to my first daughter. I felt somewhat worthless and as if I was beginning to fit the standard statistics for young mothers.
But it wasn’t until after I was in a terribly abusive relationship with my ex-husband that it all clicked to me. It was clear as day.
Living happily is far more important than an extended formal education ever could be.
And it was at that time that I became awakened to the world that surrounded me.
I won’t go into detail in this post about how messed up America’s educational system is (if interested, however, you can view a previous blog here!) but the in-depth research that I did on the topic left me flabbergasted and cemented in my mind that a traditional college would never be a proper fit for my lifestyle.
I had dreams. I had passions. And I was not about to let my mind be washed out by professors that judged my intelligence level based off of my memorization skills.
At this time I had two precious children. And though my parents were pushing me towards enrolling into college, I couldn’t make myself.
And you know what? The longer I lived 800+ miles away from my hometown, and the more people and cultures I was exposed to, the more I realized that its just not important.
I’m sure you’re probably gasping at that statement, right?
But I’ve never been one to follow the crowd.
I would much rather spend my days following my deepest, most longed-for passions. Chasing them to the tops of beautiful, wondrous mountains and back down again. Feeling as free and alive as humanly possible. And I get to do all of this with my children and partner next to me.
That’s a dream.
I’m following my passions. And I’m doing a damn good job at it.
Maybe sometime in the future I will decide that I want to attend college, or at the very least, art school. I mean, its definitely not out of the realm of possibility because of my love of learning.
But being a photographer with my own business, and a birth doula, I’d say I’m doing okay.
So here I am. Speaking up for those of us that don’t want to go to college. For those of us that want to live through experience instead of being told that our lives won’t start until we find a career with our degree in hand. For those of us that don’t wish to spend our days working in a cubicle or an office somewhere staring at pieces of trees that were ruthlessly torn down. For those of us that want to explore all of the hidden crevices of the world, and to dive head first into discovering. For those of us with dreams and passions so strong, that absolutely nothing could hold us back. Especially college.
This is for us.