DISCLAIMER: This is not a post that is meant to encourage you to dropout of college.
Over these past few years, I have become many things that I never saw myself becoming. I became a flight attendant, a Minnesotan transplant, a liar, and the most surprising thing of all…a college dropout.
As a straight “A” student throughout all my years of schooling, I was absolutely set up for success! I had taken honors/AP courses, I had surpassed college level mathematics by my junior year of high school, I graduated with a 4.35 GPA, and I received a full-ride scholarship to an honors college in Arizona. I never would have thought that I would become the type of person who dropped out of college, and then I realized that I had only never thought of this because it was never an option for me.
From such a young age, it is repeatedly drilled into us that everything we do, we do to get into college. The grades you earn, the sports you play, the community service you are involved with, its all to get you into a good school. Once you are at said school, what you go to school for doesn’t seem to actually matter. All that matters is that you are going to graduate with a BA in Unicornology, with a minor in Hipster Relations, and carry around a resume holding that title to apply for a job that doesn’t even necessarily have to have anything to do with what you just spent the past 4+ years studying.
I was well on my way to earning my very own Political Science degree before heading off to law school, when one day I came across a bottle of nail polish called Mermaid Tears. I don’t know what it was exactly about that name, but it got me thinking, “How is it someone’s job to show up to work and come up with these ridiculous names for nail polish?!” Then I started thinking about how many other careers there were in this world that nobody ever seems to talk about. How many of these unspoken jobs did you truly need a degree for?
I begun to re-evaluate what it meant to me to be successful, and as cliche as it may sound, being successful was only going to come for me once I was happy doing something that I enjoyed. If someone can make a living off of Mermaid Tears, then I was sure I could find something that I was passionate about and then find a way to turn that into a career. After mulling this over for weeks, I finally decided to drop out of school. I didn’t tell my parents at first, because I knew they would think this act was worse than murdering a small child, so I kept it a secret for months and continued to work at a restaurant until I figured out my plan.
For a while, I thought I could become a manager of a restaurant, then I thought I could become a writer, and then I had the spur-of-the-moment idea to become a flight attendant! Traveling was something I always enjoyed doing, and what a great way to see the world while getting paid?! I told myself I could still write on my layovers (which is what I am doing now from my hotel room in Paris) and then I could travel for work and leisure whenever I wanted! This career seemed perfect for me, so I don’t know why I let others belittle it as if it wasn’t enough.
Flying for a company that gives me annual raises, bonuses, up to 5 weeks of paid vacation, and the flexibility to work as much or as little as I want to, was not something to be ashamed of! However, after starting this job, I found that most of the galley smalltalk revolved around discussing what I went to school for. I quickly realized that it didn’t matter if I ended up doing something that I loved, it didn’t matter that I was making the same amount of money as those who graduated college, and it didn’t matter that I was doing the exact same job as those who were judging me. All that mattered was that I told them I didn’t have that little piece of paper that deems one successful or not.
After only a couple of months, I found myself just lying or implying that I graduated just so I didn’t have to get lectured by my co-workers. I had never been a liar before, but all of a sudden, after I finally became happy with what I chose to do with my life, I let these people make me feel less, feel inferior, and I allowed them to turn me into something that I wasn’t.
Every now and then as I am snorkeling in Hawaii, or walking across a suspension bridge in Canada, I have these moments of pure bliss where I know I am doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing. I don’t think about going back to school because I know that I have found the path for me and I couldn’t be happier! This career allows me more time to read than ever before. This career allows me the opportunities to practice new languages. This career allows me the chances to see the finest museums in history. And most importantly, this career allows me to become a well-rounded and cultured person everyday as I encounter the differences in every corner of the world.
So yes, I am a college dropout. I am a successful, educated, well-traveled, and genuinely fortunate college dropout who is so thankful to have come across that bottle of Mermaid Tears so many years ago.