Why I Didn't Go to College after High School
For a long time, I didn't know if I had really made the right choice for myself, not going to a university after graduating from high school. All of my friends and peers applied to all these schools and had dreams of the degrees they wanted get and the companies they planned on working for. Yet there I was, with my dream being maybe some community college and living in the city.
I know now, though, that this was the absolute best decision for myself and I want to get into why that is for those who might want some insight, are in the same boat, or just genuinely don't understand why one wouldn't want to go to college.
First things first.
When we graduate from high school, the average age is 18.
That is so young to know what you want to go to school for. To know what your major should be. To have your life figured out so much to the point where you feel comfortable putting tens of thousands of dollars into a college degree, without knowing whether or not that's something that will most certainly stick with you 4-6 years later.
I know for me, at 18 years old I was the most confused I had ever been. I didn't know who I was, I wasn't yet honest with myself about my passion for art and writing, I was getting out of a long term relationship, I was insecure, I was 18, man.
The thought of going to a university without even the slightest honest clue about what I would go for, just with the intention to major in something to make money afterward just never sat well with me. Yeah, it's important to guarantee yourself stability. But, I felt like a lot of times it wasn't always put into account that even though we would have jobs and start making money, which is obviously pivotal to survival in this world where money pretty much runs everything, that's a good 40 hours each week, which is a huge chunk of our lives. And, also putting into account that unless you got some full ride scholarships or really great financial aid, immediately after college you need to start paying off the debt. Quite the investment.
From age 16 to now, I've changed my mind every few months with what I want to do. One month I'll want to go to school for naturopathy, the next month I'll want to be a freelance writer, the next month I'll think about being a yoga instructor, then I'm like, "Screw it! I'm just gonna make tips as a barista and eventually have my own coffee shop!" See what I mean? I'm almost 21 now and I'm still back and forth.
I think higher education holds extreme value, which is why I think it's best for myself to wait until I know for sure what's important enough for me to invest in.
Let me now turn this into a different direction.
After high school, that was about 13 years (granted you went to preschool) of school and living within guidelines, being conditioned to live our lives a certain way, think a certain way. Never with much lenience, room, or respect to question whether or not we wanted to do what everyone else was doing (just my personal observation). Not that going to school right after high school is a bad thing, some people do know what they want, or have scholarships and incredible financial aid which is extremely valuable. But, a lot of people, including myself, don't want to follow that same path.
Especially my last 2 years of high school. I was doing high school classes, running start classes at the college, working too many hours at my part time job (which I was trying to turn into a career), trying to make time for my boyfriend at the time, keeping up with my social life, trying to manage my depression, and the list goes on. I literally never had time to breathe and just be. It was always the question of "what's next?" and living for other people rather than living for myself.
I decided to take time off after graduating, move to the city, live alone, get a full time job, start writing again, and soul search.
I took the time to really get to know myself and accept myself. Accept that I truly want to be a writer, which I had never accepted before because of the lack of income that would always be mentioned to me when I expressed to anyone that was my dream. I accepted the depression I experience, I accepted an eating disorder, I accepted the anxiety that controlled me, I accepted the addiction I had to outside validation, and I went to work on those things. That being said, I didn't have the mental or emotional space to handle being in school when I was putting most of my energy into rediscovering myself and healing years worth of pain and inner torment.
I've been giving myself this time to really just appreciate life as we have it and delve into the deepest parts of myself to realize what really brings me joy.
I realized that money isn't the answer. I found that the most important things to me are travel, relationships, family, friends, art, and ones ability to breathe and take in this beautiful world as we have it without constantly craving more this or more that.
I was able to save up money and discover a different part of the world. I was able to work a few different full time jobs and build the most incredible friendships of my life. I was able to date a few different people and realize what's important to me in a partner. I was able to learn about my own sexuality and grow comfortable in my own skin. I was able to learn how to be smart financially and budget. I discovered minimalism. I've been healing my relationship with food. I was able to find comfort within myself. I was able to learn that feeling fully is okay and the only way to overcome deeply rooted trauma. I discovered that vulnerability is beautiful. I learned that listening to my intuition is always the right choice. I learned to not take life so seriously.
And I learned how to love myself.
With the past almost 2 years off, I've never known myself more and have felt so comfortable with where I'm at. For me, knowing that even though my current job involves mainly making coffee, I've never felt so good in the present moment, knowing that each day I can try my best to live with purpose and add value to the lives around me and to my own.
Now I know I can trust myself to make the best decision with school.
I do plan on going back, now that I've researched different programs that I can apply to either freelance careers, my own brand, or even finding and working for a company that I love. I'm still waiting another year.
If you don't know if you want to go to school, or you're in school and don't know if it's really right for you right now, it's okay. We're never going to have it figured out. We're always changing, always growing, always evolving. Our passions do change and there is not a single thing wrong with that. If you need to take some time to get to know yourself, practice self care, address emotional or mental health, do that for yourself. There is no rush.
You can always go back to school. There's always time. Try to focus on self awareness and knowing what's best for yourself. Follow the path that feels most at peace with your inner longings. Live for yourself and not for others.