I didn’t go to college straight out of high school.
As someone who did the electric slide to my car on my last day of school, it wasn’t on my agenda. After high school, I took a year off and did nothing except make a little money babysitting, sleeping in, and jogging — this lasted two months. The following summer, I felt stuck when I saw pictures online of people getting ready to go back to college. They were getting ready for something new and I was making lunch for a four-year-old who had cooler stuff than I did. I applied to a few schools, got in, then shoved the brochures in my closet and deleted the acceptance emails right after I sent a quick “thanks but no thanks” half-hearted reply. College is too expensive to let guilt make the decision for me.
Logically, I should just be able to move on. Yet, my brain is full of interminable thoughts of things I’m missing out on by not going to a traditional college. For instance: no dorm, no college parties, no all-night study sessions, connections, no opportunities through alumni recognition, and no structure or path telling me where to go or how to go about it. Even if those things don’t sound appealing to me, I can’t stop myself from wanting them. I would hate sharing a room with anyone, I don’t go to parties, fuck staying up all night to do math, and I’m sure there is a way to get connections without getting myself into $80,000 of debt that I will never be able to pay back.
Yet here I am on randomuniversity.com and seriously considering applying.
After all, it’s easy to romanticize school if you are out of school.
In theory, I love learning about literature, history, space, and anything else. A college could offer me real classes. Classes where I could deep-dive topics that were off the menu for my small town high school. In reality, I only love learning what I want to learn. Whether it’s reading about the entire history of the Pop-Tart or the first woman pugilist. That’s not wanting an education, though. That’s wanting to know who to thank in my nightly prayers for Pop-Tarts and who to praise for being a badass lady in the 1700s. Wanting to learn is human. There’s more to an education than learning about specific topics, though. Education should be well-rounded. Not only should you know about the Pop-Tart, you should know about the timeline of breakfast foods and breakfast customs and you should know what it means to your specific study field. And I don’t care.
These thoughts appear frequently when I’m vulnerable. These thoughts creep up on me only when I feel like I’m lagging behind, when my foundation is rickety with self-doubt and wondering if everything I’m doing is pointless. Up until my graduation day, I knew where I was supposed to be every single day. At 8:15 am, my ass was supposed to be in my first period class and when the streetlights came on my ass would be at home. Now, I have freedom. I can choose and frankly, I don’t know what to do with my ass. Of course, I’m not trying to depict life after school as worse than being in school, It’s not. I wake up every day and thank G-d that I’m not in high school. But when things fall through and nothing is how you’d thought it be, you really figure out that you don’t know everything or anything, and it can feel pretty aimless.
While my brain can trick me into believing that I would be better off in college than going it alone, I know these feelings are laced with my own self-doubt. Nonetheless, It doesn’t make me feel much better when I get invited to a baby shower, wedding, or a graduation. The eight different shades of off-white stationery, cursive calligraphy, and curled ribbon invitations are the bane of my existence. Those invitations might as well say “I know what you did last summer……nothing. You did nothing. And I saw you drop those fries in your car and eat them off the floorboard.” However, during my late night pity parties, one thing can help palliate my gloom, reading about how everyone else feels the exact same way. Even some of the people who have invited me to their wedding admit to me that they have no clue what they’re doing either. One of the most shocking things about being an adult so far is the realization that there is no one-way to be an adult. There is no exact moment, damn sure not on your eighteenth birthday, where you just stand up straight and start eating your vegetables without complaining. People just get older and they construct their own schedule to fit their own needs and wants. I haven’t figured out my schedule yet, but I will. In the meantime, I can waste a few minutes by checking the back to school tag on Instagram and allow myself to feel melancholy about the days when I knew where I was supposed to be as long as I remember that I hated it and I’m much happier now, even if my ass is on the line.
Although, I will try not to tie myself down by saying never to college. There very well might be a day where it makes sense to go and it’s not fueled by a psychotic episode. Until then I won’t let the ‘I didn’t go to college’ blues encumber me. For now I will stick to saving money and avoiding my mailbox, focusing on better eating habits like eating off plates and not floorboards, and only reading about breakfast foods that matter. Perhaps if there is ever a day where I can name a real reason to go to school, I would consider it. Of course, it would have to be a really good reason, because seriously, fuck staying up all night to do math.