Hey there ,
I never graduated college. I had every intention of doing so when I started out. In fact I was what my wife affectionately refers to as a “schoolie.”
I finished high school near the top of my class, with an “Advanced” diploma, AP classes, college credit and a solid GPA.
My first college class was Sociology 101. I took it from 8 to 12 on Saturdays, the second semester of my senior year. I entered college a member of the school’s Honors Program, again pursuing an advanced degree. I was a History major.
There was only one problem:
I wasn’t doing any of this for me.
My entire life, up until my senior year in college, was spent fulfilling other people’s expectations. Through out my entire educational career, from kindergarten through college, I was successful because I had a knack for perceiving what it was my parents and teachers wanted, and giving it to them. Naturally they loved me for it, which only reinforced my behavior.
I wish I could say I was smarter than the system, that I knew the game I was playing and I was making it work for me. But the truth was I was an unconscious pawn in a game of, largely, unconscious players.
Then came my senior year in college. I had a very strong GPA. I was respected by my teachers and even courted by the head of at least one department. I guess everyone expected me to go on to graduate school. I had two quarters to go before graduation, less than six classes, and I began to panic.
For all my classes and all of my grades, the books and the lectures, I didn’t feel as if I’d learned a thing. I was about to graduate with a degree that meant nothing to me. I was about to join the “world” and I had no idea what I was going to do.
There was one thing, though, that I was certain of:
I was in love with Samantha.
We had been dating for almost two years when my roommate announced he was moving to Athens, Georgia to pursue a degree in photography. At that time, my roommate, Jason; Samantha; myself; and our best friend, Jeff, all formed a pre-Friends posse.
We did just about everything together and the idea of a new adventure in a new place took hold. Within a couple months we were packed and moved into a little country house just outside of town. I dropped out of school to go.
My mother and I had one of our biggest fights over this move. This was the first time I’d done something I wanted to do and it didn’t fit with her plan. She felt I was throwing my life away over a girl.
What she couldn’t see was, for the first time, I was embracing my life and doing what I wanted. It paid off, too. Samantha and I celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary last May.
It would be nice to say I learned my lesson then and there, but the truth is it took me a while to get it and sometimes I still struggle to apply it.
I tried going to school in Georgia, but second semester Samantha got pregnant with our first daughter. We decided it was our best move to return to Birmingham.
Later I tried to go back to school where I started and finish my degree (twice), but, again, life got in the way. When it was all said and done I ended my final semester in college with three incomplete classes that turned into “F”s.
That solid GPA? Long gone. Which is actually for the best. My heart was never in it. I pursued the degree because I thought that was what I was supposed to have. I listened to people who told me, “Oh, you’ll feel better when you have it.”
Only, I don’t feel bad now.
In fact, the only worthwhile lesson I did learn while in college is the one I’m sharing with you now:
YOU MUST LIVE YOUR LIFE FOR YOU AND NO ONE ELSE.
It’s not always easy. We are social animals and conditioned to seek the acceptance of the herd. That is your material side speaking, the physical, animal part of you.
Remember, you are also spirit. This is the part of you that came here to shine as an individual, to stand out and to do something.
Do something. Just make sure it’s what you want to do.
To your perfect imperfection,
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