“AJ where did you go to college?”, Facebook prompts me every few months.
“I didn’t go to college you JERK!”, I angrily think back to my innocent computer.
I’m just so over the idea that college is the only way to success. I’m a little angst-y about it. Obviously.
College was our only option growing up. By sophomore year of high school you had your favorite schools scoped out, at SIXTEEN mind you. By your junior year you’d applied and signed up for all the AP classes you could. By your senior year you were rockin the starchiest, logo-ed, crew neck of your school of choice down the hallways. The hallways that you thought mattered SO much.
Now. Please allow me to make myself clear before you stop reading. I think school is wonderful. College is a magical experience for finding yourself if nothing else. For me though, there was just a VERY different path so clear to me, one that some college students may have envied.
I remember so clearly my peers asking where I had applied and where I’d be living in the fall of 2006. I also remember kind of enjoying their freak-out-faces when I told them I was going to cosmetology school and “not going to college”. America’s Funniest Videos kinda faces. JUDGMENTAL faces.
It wasn’t their fault. We, as a generation, were bred to believe that college, and internships, and grad school, were really the only way. Even the parents of my friends judged me. My teachers judged me. My parents and grandparents were scared for me.
And then I witnessed my parents pressing my little sister more clearly. I think they thought maybe if they had provided me with more direction I wouldn’t make such a mistake. They channeled this learning experience through to my sister. (My sister who now is in grad school with dreams of working for the FBI! —-Who I’m so PROUD of!)
I remember my dad researching the annual income of hairdressers, (this was 2004, and in a small town), and sassily informing me it was $11,000. And I CLEARLY remember sassing back, “Well I’m NOT AVERAGE!”
And I’m not. I am not average. No one who knowingly breaks the mold, is average. No one who follows their dream is average. No one who fights for the anti-cubicle lifestyle, is average.
I really don’t care if that’s being a hairdresser. Blogger. Professional baseball player. Firefighter. Rockstar. Moviestar. Model. Actress. Non-profit badass. Start-up badass. Artist.
And maybe YOU is best being a student. FBI agent. Teacher. Doctor. Lawyer.
We’re ALL in this together. The world needs a little of everyone!
I believe the most important thing is that we all support each other. The way my family came around to support me with an education through Aveda, and a move to Atlanta to work for Aveda’s busiest salon in the world. Followed by moving me home after a lifetime movie breakup, (becuase we all need one of those under our belt to realllllly grow up), and helping me find my balance again.
I believe in you. And ME! US. People doing what we WANT and what makes us happy.
I hope this letter of expression delivers one lesson. YOU might be THAT person, that is unknowingly being rude when you say, “did you go to college”, or, “does it scare you that you don’t have a degree”, or, “do you think you’ll go back to school?”.
Just support me. Tell me you’re happy for me that I’m going against the grain and doing what I love, or frankly, keep it to yo-self!
Follow your dreams. Quit your job. Move to Bali and pursue yoga. I don’t care! Just. Do. YOU. Nothing else counts.
Photo by my pretty friend Kina Wicks Photography