Mrs. Welling heels clicked against the floor as she paced the front of the classroom, stopping at the front of each row to count the correct amount of papers for each student and then passing them down. I got my paper and passed back the rest. Written in large, bold, black letters was the question “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
I’m sure we all experienced a day like this in school. From a young age I was asked this question. My answers varied depending on how old I was. I wanted to be a doctor or a farmer like my Father. I wanted to be a tax consultant like my Mom or a cake baker like my Grandma.
Once I graduated High School and began my first year in College, it started becoming more and more important that I actually choose a career. Talking with my career counselor one day, the only thing I could tell her was that I wanted to help people. She suggested social work as a career for me.
During my few years in college I tried multiple different careers. I shadowed social workers, I joined a deaf education and special education program, and I tried to go into nursing. All of these were dead ends for me for various reasons.
I couldn’t find my niche and I began to grow frustrated, wondering if I would every find out where I was meant to go and who I was meant to be. There seemed to be this incredible pressure for me to decide where I fit but I couldn’t find out where that was.
Nearing the end of my third year of college I felt hopeless and I lost all ambition for school. I was working two jobs and doing school full time and still had no idea what career I was going into. I’m not sure at what moment I decided but one night I sat down and thought that I was sick of working my ass off just because that’s what you’re “supposed to do.”
I am a college dropout. Cue the shocked murmurs and gasps. I went to my counselor one day, signed the forms and walked out of that school for the last time. It was the first time in my life where I wouldn’t have to go to school or do homework and “choose a career.” And let me tell you there was a sense of freedom about that.
School is great for some people and I admire those who can go and get their masters or doctorates. Really you guys are troopers. But I truly believe, school is not for everyone. I did well at school from the time I was little. I was a straight A student which is why when I told my family I had dropped out, they were surprised and shocked.
I think there is a stigma that surrounds people who are college dropouts. People seem to think college dropouts are the ones who couldn’t make it because they weren’t “smart enough” or “motivated enough” but that’s not true.
We were taught, from the time we were little, that college was the way to go; that the only way you could succeed at life was if you got a degree. I don’t believe that is true. I think there are other paths in life to choose besides the college route.
Now when my family asks me what I plan to do, they don’t like the answer that I’m going to try to write a book and work on my art. Those aren’t real careers to them but they are real to me. I find my happiness in books and writing. I find myself and who I am in my art.
I may never be rich like I could’ve if I’d went to school to be a doctor but I can be happy. I think too often people spend their life searching for money instead of happiness. I don’t want to be the person who wakes up everyday hating their job and is counting down the days to their retirement. I want my life to mean more than that. I want to make a difference and leave my mark on this world, even it’s only through a book I wrote or a painting I leave behind.
There are many paths in life you can choose and I’m here to tell you college isn’t the only one. So find what makes you happy, not what can pay you the most. I may be a college dropout and I may not be rich but I am happier than I ever was before and I think that counts for something.
(Saturday morning rants. Thanks for reading <3)