The Truth Behind Taking Time Off From School
Today's subject is a little more personal, and really, something I wasn't sure I wanted to share about. But then I realized that I wish this was a more talked about topic. You see, there is such a pressure that leads up to college and feeling that you need to compete and land on the same timing as your high school classmates. For me, that wasn't the case, and life had other plans.
I have always believed in the importance of having an education, even with all of the opportunities today that don't require one. I'm a living example! I run my own business as a full time photographer, but I also have so many interests that I would love to grow beyond my current business one day. Being my own boss is great. Creating my own hours, determining my own income, seeing hard work really pay off - all of it is great. Truly, I never want to experience life without self-employment ever again! I am by no means suggesting that everyone needs a degree to be successful, but for me it was always important to have that security. But the fact that I have already been my own boss for a few years made the whole idea of not going to school sound very appealing, and I wanted to spend every waking second doing what I can to further my current career.
It was hard to focus on my future when my present career was going so well. Not only this, but I had no idea what I wanted to study. I have so many passions and would probably be happy with my life leading in the direction of any of them. Though, I know one thing was for sure, college is expensive and I didn't want to waste time and money on a career that I wasn't sure about, especially when I have one now that I am sure about. With that being said, I stopped worrying about feeling that I needed to graduate at the same time as my classmates and started focusing on what was best for me. I am in absolutely no rush to get my degree, because you know what? I have something good going right now, and the last thing I would want to do is push that aside for a path I'm not entirely sure about.
I spent my first half of school at a community college to complete my general credits. This is something that I felt a lot of my peers looked down on me for. Whenever I came across someone who I went to school with and we talked about college, I got way too many "oh, well that's okay"'s every time I said I was going to a community college, and just a lot of other condescending comments. I felt that people thought they were superior just because they went to a university right away. News flash - I have zero debt. Who's the real winner here? Haha. Seriously though! I was lucky enough to be on a scholarship that covered my entire time at this school. NO DEBT. Why would I pass that up?!
I'm not the type of person to care about 'the college experience' and truthfully, I don't regret it one bit. I personally was so focused on building my business that partying was the last thing on my mind.
When my time at the community college was coming to an end, I ended up having a panic attack, realizing that time was really up and that I needed to make a decision - where I was going to transfer to and what I was going to study. This can be the toughest decision in life for some. It's a lifelong commitment, really. I went to my school counselor to try and gain some insight on what I should do. I was always hesitant to go to the counselor, because almost every time I went, I walked out more frustrated and confused than I was before. I'm the first person in my family to go to college, so I'm pretty much all on my own here. The counselors were all I had to help me figure things out. Thankfully, this time I walked out hopeful. I never planned on graduating with my associates before my bachelors, but apparently I had the credits to do so. So, technically I'm already college graduate! Though I don't really want to celebrate until I hit my end goal (to keep me motivated).
Due to the fact that I have a degree and a successful business, I finally felt that it was okay that I'm not on the same track as everyone else. I wish I figured that out sooner. It would have saved me a lot of stress and tears. I needed a break. It would be the only way for me to sensibly think about what I should be doing in my educational career. So, I decided to take a semester off.
My biggest worry? Telling my parents. Would they let me? Can they really stop me? Will they think I'm dropping out? Will I drop out? So many things were running through my mind. Thankfully, I was able to plead my case with the fact that I do have a degree already and business was going well. My mom was super supportive and the conversation actually went way better than I thought. But then came the questions. They were constantly worried I was going to get used to this whole 'laying on the couch everyday lifestyle' -- but they were wrong! I think I actually went crazy with having too much free time. Truthfully, taking a semester off made me feel so ready to go back and actually motivated me more.
This semester was weird for me. Since photography is my full time job, and doesn't really start picking up until it get's warm out, I wasn't really working. I had plenty to get done answering emails and having bridal consultations, and I was definitely able to really start cranking out content for my blog; but to my parents, I was home way too often. I still had plenty on my plate, but for me, having a normal routine keeps me sane. It was great to sleep in as late as I wanted, go shopping or to lunch with friends whenever, but when everyone else is on a normal 9-5 schedule and you're not, it can get lonely. I felt like a stay at home mom (minus the kids - does my dog count? haha)
I like having a busy schedule. I think it forces me to be more organized and manage my time better. "Is she really complaining about not having anything to do?" Yes, as a matter of fact, I am. I don't really get bored. I never really have, but being able to do whatever I want, whenever I want was nice for about 3 weeks. Then it got old. I have so much ambition built up inside me and had no idea where to put it. I was definitely going back to school, but for what was the question.
Flash forward a few months and here I am. I finally chose my path and I couldn't be happier with my decision. I am currently studying Fashion Merchandising at Mount Mary University, a small private college in Wisconsin that is most known for their fashion program.
So- how did I finally decide this? Well, I truly believe in timing and everything happening for a reason. Had I felt the peer pressure of starting at a University right out of high school or not taken that semester off, there's no way I would be here now. I had no idea this school or program even existed until I really took the time to network and do research in the fields I may be interested in.
Fashion Merchandising is essentially the business side of the fashion industry, which really embodies so many of my interests. I love all things creative, business, and of course fashion - and there are so many careers within this degree that I would absolutely love to do. I'm only a few weeks in to my major, but I will say that I am so glad that I chose the path I did.
With that being said, please don't ever feel like you need to conform to society's expectations for your career path, or in any realm of life for that matter. You are exactly where you need to be in this very moment, and life will figure itself out. Planning out your entire future at 17 years old is pretty much impossible, so it's okay to not know what your plan is yet. It's okay to go to a community college, take a semester - even a year off, or just not going all together. Find a career that makes you happy and one where work won't feel like work. I'm a firm believer in turning your passion into your career, and sometimes it just takes a little bit of time to figure out how to do that.
On that note, cheers to new beginnings! Thank you for taking the time to read the long story of my educational journey. If you feel lost or just want someone to talk to about this, please don't hesitate to reach out and send a message! I would be more than happy to offer any advice based off of my experiences with college and how I came to make those tough decisions so that you can feel good about your decisions too! I'm just a message away!