My decision not to go to college is a very personal one with a long backstory. For the longest time all I thought about was how I was going to go to some prestigious college and get this incredible degree, but then my heart changed around sophomore year. I don’t really know what made my plans after high school flip so drastically but I can say it was one of the better decisions I’ve ever made. All my life I’ve always struggled with keeping up with school and the work that comes with it because of missing so many days. The work that kept piling up actually made me sicker from all of the stress that it brought. I can remember hating school because I could never get on top of things and I always felt so stupid. It got to the point where I would cry every morning about having to go because I was so upset about it. It’s truly a shame because I absolutely love learning. I love being knowledgeable about various things and knowing random facts. So to hate going to the place that was supposed to teach me those very things broke my heart.
On top of the fact I was just too sick to go 80% of the time, the public school that I went to from kindergarten to sixth grade wouldn’t work with my particular situation. They fought and fought with my mom about they’re want to hold me back because they thought I needed to be in a grade below mine to keep up. The thing is, I am good in school. I catch on super easily and I work my butt off. Plus, putting me in a different grade wouldn’t solve the problem of just being too sick to go and trying to keep up with the work. I understood the work I was given just fine, it was just a struggle to get it all done. The whole idea just wasn’t very well thought out. The pushback from them over every little thing got worse and worse each year. That whole experience really hurt me because they made me feel incapable and dense. Because of this and the fact I was just too exposed to so many germs, we switched to homeschooling my seventh-grade year.
Homeschooling was fine, I got involved in lots of different things, made a lot of friends, and I was able to work at my own pace. Unfortunately, it was just too hard with my mom working full time and I couldn’t drive yet so I wasn’t able to get out as much as I’d hoped. That’s why in eighth grade, we made the decision to send me to a small private Christian school. It didn’t really take much time for us to decide for me to go there; we knew it was the place for me. It was small enough that there wouldn’t be as many germs, they were willing to work with my situation, and I was going to get the Christian education that I wanted. It went well for the first few weeks, but I just got so sick and missed a month straight. They handled everything so well and were always so willing to work with me. It lifted my spirits that they believed in me so much because at the age of 13 I was already thinking about college. However, I still struggled with keeping up and staying on top of things.
Something that’s always hard to explain is that when I get sick my brain processes things much slower than normal and my body is ten times weaker. This makes doing any type of work incredibly hard. I could do my schoolwork and believe me, I tried, but it didn’t always reflect what I was really capable of. That was so hard for me because I’m a bit of a perfectionist. I then started pushing myself to the limit. I got weaker and weaker and sicker and sicker because of it. Freshman year was tough because it was the first year of high school and I was continuing to stress myself out over school. A quick little-known fact about my educational experience is I worked on my schoolwork year round. I worked with a tutor all summer long to get my work from the previous year done. For all 13 years of my school career, I was doing the work all year. Hopefully, you can see why high school freaked me out more than most incoming freshman. I was TERRIFIED of the work that I would have to keep up on. I also wanted so badly to show my new teachers that I could do the work and that I would work hard. Let’s just say, pushing yourself to your limit isn’t always a good idea.
By sophomore year my health declined dramatically. Obviously, it wasn’t solely because of school work, but it was a contributing factor. Even though my teachers were amazing about working around my situation it didn’t change the fact that I still missed so much work and valuable in class discussions. I started to realize that maybe going to a huge university one day wasn’t the right fit for me and my particular limitations. I started praying for peace over this realization and a new passion to help me cope with a lost dream. Let me say that if I at all thought being in college right now was the right fit for me, I would be there; nothing would stop me. But my heart started yearning for the stress from school to end. Not only my heart, but my mind, body, and emotions too. This is when I realized that I no longer wanted to go to college anymore.
My last two years in high school were rough because I wanted so badly to just be done with school. I didn’t want to worry about work anymore or about not making it regularly. I just wanted to breathe and have a day without extreme stress. But as I mentioned before I’m a perfectionist and I still wanted good grades. My grades were always A’s and B’s but they always came out low in the end because of makeup work that wasn’t yet turned in. I was always so broken up about it. Little by little I started to notice that school itself was just destroying my self-esteem. Don’t get me wrong the people were great and I still love to learn, but for me personally, the education system that we have in place just didn’t work. I started to feel such relief over the fact that I didn’t have to take the ACT because I wasn’t planning on college. It was one less stressor gone. I gave myself grace over little things and just tried to enjoy my last two years of high school. I found I was much happier when I didn’t worry so much about the work and focused on the whole experience that high school brings.
Senior year was crunch time though. I still had so much work to makeup and so little time. I started to get sick over the stress again. So many times my mom, momma Kathy, and I tossed around the idea of just taking the GED so I wouldn’t have to worry about the makeup work anymore. Still, I wanted so badly to walk across that stage with my class on graduation day. The work kept piling on though and things just got more difficult. Finally, I admitted that I just couldn’t do it anymore… Also, there was NO way I was going to finish my senior year projects over the summer AFTER I was supposed to graduate. Now enters my decision to take the GED. We were able to come up with a solution that worked amazingly; I would go to my school and work on studying for the GED and count it as class credits, that way I could graduate with my class AND get a General Education Degree.
Let me tell you, the GED is HARD. I studied my booty off for months and the test is still a million times harder than I ever imagined. They say it’s just as hard as the ACT and SAT now. I thought for sure I wasn’t going to pass, but by the grace of God and some rigorous studying, I did indeed pass the first time. I was as happy as a clam. For once in my life, I finished something before everyone in my class did. They still had school for a week after I passed and I was already free. I even got to walk across that stage with them. After 13 years of hard work, I had something to show for it. It was like the weight of the world was lifted off my shoulders.
I had one of the best summers of my life; I went on vacations, spent time with friends, relaxed, and just enjoyed life. It was such a relief to not worry about school work I needed to finish for once. I think that’s the main reason I opted out of college; the feeling of being free to do what I love without having to worry about the work I need to finish next. I am honestly so happy with my decision. I’m not saying college is bad thing by any means, I actually do think it’s an amazing opportunity, but it’s just one that’s not for everyone.
College would’ve brought a tremendous amount of stress back into my life that would tear my health apart and I just can’t do that to myself. I’ve realized over time that my limits are different than others and that’s okay. I have other passions I’m pursuing (including this blog) and I’m so at peace with what I’m doing with my life. I’ve never been able to say that before and it’s awesome to be able to feel that way. I’m so excited to see where I go from here. All of this is not to say I’ll never take a class or two or even one day decide to go to college part-time, but right now that’s not where my heart is. I want to live a life full of passion and happiness. One that when I get up every day I’m excited about my plans and to see what life brings along the way. I don’t want to waste any minute of this precious gift of life that I’m given with doing something that doesn’t bring me the slightest bit of joy. But most of all I want to live a life with my eyes fixed entirely on Jesus.
Looking back it’s cool to see how God worked everything out. He opened my eyes to the little red signs that maybe college right out of high school wouldn’t be the wise choice for me. He worked with my heart and molded it to reveal new passions. He brought joy to my life through a different path that I had never considered. He stretched me and taught me so much about plans changing and the beauty of new dreams. I do not regret my decision one bit about not going to college because I know that I am exactly where God planned for me to be.