I’m a college drop-out.
There. I said it.
Some people are surprised about this. Some are decidedly not. Some don’t even care.
It’s something that bothers me. I highly value education, but Life got in the way of mine, so I learned what I know by living, trying, and working really hard to figure it out.
The thing is, I don’t want my own kids to point to me and say, “Why do we have to go to college, if you never finished it?”
And here’s the hilarious irony of it all: I was going to school to be a teacher.
HA! HA! HA! HA! HA! HA!
I’ve had an argument in my head for the past decade or so: If I make myself successful on my own–the hard way and the long way–without college, is that a Get Out of Jail Free Card for not getting my degree? Or should I go get my degree no matter what, just to show my kids that I wanted it and did it, even though I didn’t “need” to?
I was going to school so I could teach Literature. I have always loved teaching, reading, writing, and the smell of paper and ink. Though I had to leave college, I always found my way to train someone or write something in pretty much every job I held since then. I had to work to survive, and I made the best of the jobs I could get, but I could never shake my innate love of teaching and writing.
So here I am, 20 years from that day when I got the college acceptance letter, confident I was on my way to a career that surrounded me with words and put me at the front of the class, eyes on me.
Who knew that I’d end up alone in my home, doing my teaching and writing and reading in the way that I do–and without a degree in hand?
How do I handle this for my kids’ sake? They know I’m happy. They’re proud of me, as much as a 6 & 8-year-old can be. But will they be prouder of me if I get a degree just to be a good example for them?
Balancing my desire to be a good role model for my kids and desire to just do what makes me happy is rather tricky.
So far, my body of work (and trust me, it has been work to make it all happen) makes me proud:
– I’ve been writing online for 11 years
– I’ve been getting paid to write for 2 years
– I wrote my own short story collection and self-published it (even photographed & designed the cover), getting 5-star reviews from people who didn’t even realize how much I loved to write fiction
– I have had humor essays of mine published in 3 books, and received great responses to each of them
– I finished writing my first YA novel manuscript, signed with a literary agent, and will soon be submitting it to publishing houses. (Can you say “So close to a dream come true I could vomit”? I sure can.)
– I was brought in to teach two sessions at a new blogging and writing conference this June
– I’ve had posts go viral, been on TV and webTV to discuss my work, had people show up to book signings, won awards, and even have had people send me private messages to tell me that something I wrote helped them out in one way or another
And this week I announced that I’m in my 4th humor anthology, I Just Want to Be Alone:
(The official release date is March 22nd, but the expectation is that this is going to be hugely popular, so Amazon has decided to open it for pre-orders already. You can also add I Just Want to Be Alone to your Goodreads shelf.)
This is where I ask:
Is this enough? Have I been successful enough without the degree? If not, what would be “successful enough”?
– Making the New York Times Bestsellers list?
– A certain annual salary?
– Getting a book deal? A multi-book deal?
To be honest, I feel good about where I am. I don’t feel the need to get that degree, other than to set an example for my kids. I feel successful, happy, in a great place. I know I’m just hung up on the whole college degree matter, but it’s something that’s been on my mind since I dropped out of college 18 years ago.
Do I let it go? Or go for it?
I just don’t know.
What are your thoughts on the value of a degree? How about the effectiveness of “Do as I say, not as I do”? How do you define success?
Do you have a degree?
If not, are you “successful enough” to never get one? Are you okay telling your kids they should get one, even if you don’t have one?
Am I alone in this conflict?
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Join me at the BlogU conference in June 2014.
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