College Drop-out

It's finals week at my old school and here in my hometown.  Everywhere I go there are students with laptops and giant coffees stressing out about their exams.  This week is the first time that I'm being forced to look at the decision I made to not be a college student anymore, and to be completely honest, it has been harder than I expected it to be.

I don't regret the decision at all; ask anyone in my family and they'll tell you that I'm the happiest I've been in years.  What I'm feeling is more like grief.  I know I made the right decision, but while my friends are stressing out about their last exams before break and graduation, I'm realizing that there are more and more things that are going to separate me from my friends.  There will always be something that everyone of them experienced without me, and it's hard not to feel a bit left out.  My sorority sisters all have photos together in their caps and gowns, my friends can all share stories about the day that they graduated, and the parties they threw together, and I'll never have that.  Those things may seem small, but when you've been talking about it with people for as long as I have, little things like that hold a lot more meaning.

I was also faced with being called a drop out in a derogatory way this past week and I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt.  I have been so blessed in my life and so happy with the decisions I've made recently, that I hadn't taken the time to think about the fact that some people are too closed minded to see anything other than their way of life.  I may not have a college degree, but that doesn't mean that I'm not smart or driven.  It simply means that I've taken a path that isn't normal in America anymore.

Going to college immediately after high school has become something that is expected of the young adults of my generation and I feel that it is doing us a disservice.  I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and despite that, many of the people in my life (not always intentionally) led me to believe that going to college was the best way for me to figure it out.  I was told that without a college degree I would never get a job or have a career that was worthwhile.  It became a black and white situation.  Either go to college, or work for minimum wage at a dead end job and hate your life.  The thing that people didn't understand, and still don't, is that being in college with no idea what I wanted to do actually did make me hate my life.  I switched majors a few times, never felt settled in class situations, and found myself lying to anyone and everyone about what I wanted to be in order to cover up my unhappiness.

When I was finally honest about what I wanted and needed from life, it felt like a weight lifted off of my shoulders.  Yes, I would have to confess to my family and friends that I had wasted insane amounts of money and lied to them for 5 years, which was terrifying, but it didn't matter because I finally felt sure about my life.  College taught me a lot about myself and the person I want to be, but I don't need a degree to validate that.  I've found a job in an industry that I love, and I'm happy with my life for the first time in a long time.

Follow your joy, no matter what, because in the end, it's a lot more valuable than a framed piece of paper.

XOXO ~ Kae