This past weekend marked what should have been my college graduation. Class of 2019. I still get the Facebook group notifications even though I dropped out of college two years ago. My feed has been flooded the past few days with pictures of my friends in cap and gowns, and I can’t help but feel if just for a second, that I should be in those pictures with them. When I first felt that throb in my chest, that guilt and jealousy, I found myself quickly rewinding and checking myself because the simple truth is, dropping out of college when I did was the best thing for me.
Not for one second do I regret my decision to leave school. I was at the top of my classes, I was getting straight A’s on every project, on every assignment, I was the person to beat. But I was miserable. I was working a full time job, juggling a long distance relationship, trying to convince myself that I was happy studying a major I had no interest in. I was appeasing the system that had placed me in higher education, and I was miserable.
Do not get me wrong here. I think College is very important. I think any person who has dedicated their time and energy to getting a higher education is strong and beautiful and wonderful, and should be very proud of themselves. I am not here to bash anyone who has made that choice; they are very admirable and extremely necessary in society.
All of that though does not change that college was simply not for me. I am a happier, stronger, and still very well educated person today because I dropped out of college.
Let me explain.
I did not go to college because I had a passion for something. I went to college because that is what everyone was telling me to do. Teachers, advisers, family members, friends – almost every person in my life convinced me college was the best option. At times it seemed college was the only option. Coming from a small town, to some people, not going to college is much like a death sentence.
Still, college was not for me.
There are people who when I tell them my story, tell me I picked the wrong major. It would have been better for me if I’d picked a different major. I picked the wrong college. It would have been different for me had I picked a different college. I disagree with all of these statements. It wasn’t the majors fault. It wasn’t the college’s fault. It was all on me.
I studied hard. I got good grades. I had amazing professors. I learned plenty. I didn’t fail at college by any means. But I was a terrible human being during those two years. I was miserable. I got up every morning dreading life no matter what I had planned for the day. I knew I was going to have to sit in class and pretend to enjoy the lectures I was sitting through. I sat next to people with fire in their bellies, people so passionate about the subject that they would stand to answer questions and I remember thinking – “give me some of that fire”. I remember just wanting to feel something, but that’s not how it works.
The day I dropped out of college, the only thing I remember feeling was relief. I expected to feel anger at myself for quitting. I expected to feel ashamed of myself. I expected to feel regret or fear looking at the loans I was still going to have to pay off. But no. All I felt was relief. And to this day, all I have ever truly felt about my decision to drop out of college is relief.
I have no idea where I am going to end up. I may go back to college one day. I may decide never to go back. But at this point in my life, I have a job. I pay my own bills. I am doing something I love to do. I have plans for the next couple of years. I am happy. And above all, I am not ashamed of the choices I made to get here.
Going to college is a choice so many people make, and for so many people, it is absolutely the right decision. Also though, there are plenty of people who choose not to and still live abundant lives and are no less a member of society than those that have a degree.
I will end this post by saying simply this: be you. Choose what makes you happy. Do what makes you happy. As long as your bills are getting paid, you aren’t breaking any laws, you aren’t hurting anyone else, and you are happy, then who should be a judge of what is right in your life but yourself?