The other night, while eating dinner, Blake and I opened the book, “365 Connecting Questions for Couples” by Marriage365. It provides daily questions and prompt conversations that are difficult, funny, and everything in between. This night in particular, the “connecting question” was one that stuck with me for a few days. It read: What financial decision are you most proud of?
Right off the bat, my mind went blank. “What financial decision am I most proud of?” I have no idea. The decision to start my own business? Our decision to live below our means? I don’t know. Then, I realized my true answer- a conclusion I wouldn’t have come to 5 years before, or possibly, even last year- an answer that actually wraps up all my possible answers into one. What was my proudest financial decision?
Not going to college.
After talking through it with Blake a little more, he encouraged me to share my college story (or lack of one), here, on the blog. Yours truly gave immediate push back. But, Blake went on to explain that it could be a unique opportunity to resonate with my readers who’s stories are similar to mine. In our world and culture, today, college is just something you do. No questions asked. While, not attending college is often frowned upon. So, if I have the opportunity to shed a little light and encouragement on something that can easily bring shame and guilt, sign me up. After all, that’s what this platform is for!
My College Story (Or Lack of One)
When I decided to not attend the four year university of my dreams, I felt anything-but-proud. In fact, I felt guilty, embarrassed, and disappointed that I chose to not take the same path as all my friends. And, that I turned away from my pursuit of a college degree. Honestly, I wrestled with my decision for years. Admittedly, I was ashamed that I never gotten my degree. Even today, there are times embarrassment and shame fill my mind.
Before moving on, I want to make an important note that I almost didn’t think to include: guilt and shame are from the enemy, not from God. And, as I write this, I’m continuously learning to make a conscious decision to let go of lies from the enemy (like shame, guilt, and so many more).
As twenty-something year old woman, there’s a recurring question that everyone and their mother asks you, especially here in the south. That FAQ? “Where did you go to school?” And, just to clear up any confusion, they don’t mean high school. Every time I hear this question, I cringe. When I first moved to Texas, I would reluctantly answer by explaining that I attended a community college in California, then started working full time once I moved states. While this answer was true, it isn’t completely honest. Here’s the full truth:
Soon after high school graduation, I gave up my dreams of attending a four-year university, living in the dorms, and pledging to be in a sorority. Without getting into the nitty gritty of it all, I had a simple decision to make: A) Attend the college of my dream, work my way through, and graduate with piles of debt. Or B) Settle for community college classes, work part-time, and live debt-free.
Despite the deepest desire of my heart, I knew I didn’t want to be buried in debt for the rest of my life. So, my decision was made.
Please hear me when I say: there is nothing wrong with going to college or being willing to take on debt to do so. In fact, if that’s your story, I applaud and admire you for it. Just know, that wasn’t my story.
Why I’m Glad I Didn’t Graduate College
At this point, you’re probably wondering where I’m going with this. So, I didn’t graduate from college. How is that something to be happy, or even proud, about? As I previously mentioned, this reality isn’t something I’ve been proud of in the past. But, looking back on the last (almost) ten years since graduating high school, I can clearly see God’s hand in it all: deciding to attend to community school, working 2-3 jobs at a time, graduating from Cosmetology school, moving across state, marrying Blake, the list goes on.
Sitting where I am today, not only am I happy with my decision, I’m so grateful for the path God led me down instead. Here’s why:
1. A Faith of My Own
At the top of the list is my relationship with Jesus. In the years following high school, I undoubtedly discovered my faith as my own. Unlike the years prior, despite attending church intermittently and calling myself a “Christian,” I never really experienced an honest, true, and personal relationship with Jesus. If I had pursued my college dreams, who knows where my relationship with Jesus would be today. I’m fairly confident it wouldn’t be what is today, and honestly, there’s a decent chance it could be non-existent. For this reason alone, I will be forever grateful that God steered me in a different direction.
After this time of exponential growth in my faith and relationship with Jesus, I met my husband, Blake. I firmly believe I wouldn’t have met Blake, if I chased after my college dreams, nor would I be the Godly wife that I am today (or try to be). I thank God every day for my sweet husband and our life together.
2. Financial Freedom
This one is pretty self-explanatory. As I’ve already touched on, I’m thankful and proud to be financially free. While there are days I mourn the loss of a typical college experience, I’m grateful to be free of debt.
3. Opportunity to Pursue my Dream Job
While I’m grateful for my relationship with Jesus and financial freedom, I’m proud that my lack of a degree hasn’t stopped me from recognizing, pursuing, and achieving my dream job.
Even without a 4-year college experience and education, I gained experience and education throughout my “college years.” I graduated from Cosmetology school while waiting tables. I worked in multiple medical and dental offices in multiple states (okay, two). I became a Certified Personal Trainer and worked in the gym setting for several years. And, just last year, I graduated as a Functional Nutritional Therapy Practitioner from the NTA. I guess you could say I’m a “Jack of all trades.” Lol. And, sitting where I am today, I’m I confident that I’m right where God wants me.
Since graduating as a FNTP in November 2019, not only have I started working one-on-one with nutritional therapy clients, but I’ve also started an unrelated business that I never could have imagined. The funny thing is: it’s my dream job in-disguise. While I was studying to be a FNTP, I took a leap of faith and ventured out into business on my own- I learned to do for others what I was already doing for myself: managing a blog and social media. This part-time, temporary gig, quickly turned into a full-fledged business since graduating as an FNTP. Now, I’m working from home (#goals), running my own schedule, and actually enjoying my work. Of course, it’s not all daisies and roses. As any entrepreneur will tell you, running a business can be challenging, stressful, and very overwhelming at times.
I wanted to share my story in the chance you’ve experienced a reality similar to mine. Maybe you’ve never stepped foot on a college campus. Maybe you dropped out without earning a degree. Maybe you’ve changed jobs too many times to count. Regardless, I’m willing to bet you’ve felt inadequate, not smart enough, or unskilled.
I say all that to say this: if you didn’t attend college or graduate with a degree, your dreams are still possible and achievable. You are not inadequate, under-educated, or unworthy. You can do it. And, while running your own business might not be your dream, what is your dream?