Why dropping out of college was the best choice for me

family playing at a pumpkin patch

Yep, you read that right. I just started back at Drury College here in St. Robert in August, and I didn't even finish one semester. I wasn't doing terrible- I had a 89% average on my tests and would get credit for participation and projects, but it came down to realizing that my heart wasn't in it.

three kids sitting with pumpkins

I've always done well in school. As a kid I was a straight A student without having to really try (I never had to study and did my homework on the bus).  In middle school I was placed in the Gifted program, which a memorable teacher (RIP Mr. Platt) would explain there was three ways to do things: the easy way, the hard way, and the gifted way. My husband is still learning to cope with my "gifted way" of doing things today. I kept the straight A trend up through High School while participating in tons of sports, activities, and "dating", and was accepted into the local college as a dual enrollment student. If I had played my cards right, I would have graduated High School with an Associate's degree.

husband and wife looking at each other lovingly

Sometime around then I started working, hanging out with my new college friends, and stopped caring as much. I ditched class, missed band rehearsals, and dated some interesting characters. I ended up graduating high school but without any honors. Over the next 10 years I would enroll in college, go for a few semesters, and decide to drop out again because money, life, work etc. I finally graduated with my AA degree shortly after Nathan was born in 2012. I was accepted into the University of Alabama's distance learning program and worked toward a degree in Nutrition. When we moved to Hawaii, and I was without a computer I dropped out (again). So basically my pattern of attending and dropping out has been a viscous cycle, and I always felt like I NEEDED to finish my bachelors and be able to obtain a respectable job. I began back at Drury in 2017 and made it half way through a semester taking Anatomy and Physiology before finally having my "aha" moment.

baby with big blue eyes and a pumpkin lifestyle blog

I don't NEED a degree to be happy, or enough. Of all the "dream jobs" out there, I honestly just want to be a mama. Realizing that I was working toward a degree without a plan or passion really solidified my reasoning to quit racking up debt. My sweet supportive husband agreed too. His job in the Army has unpredictable hours, and sometimes he will have to be away for periods of time. The kids need me to be their constant in life. Maddie requires me basically 24/7 and while I gripe about it, I honestly do love being so needed by my little sweetie. I love being able to attended school functions for the older kids and pick them up every day after school. I love the community we are in with other military wives and helping out my friends when needed.

While I did decide to be happy with being "mama", I do run a pretty successful photography business that I'm so proud of, and I have my side hustles like my Etsy shop and Color Street. I pull my weight around the house and with the kids and *try* to have dinner on the table at a respectable hour most nights. Family comes first, always.

I am enough.

mom with pink hair and baby with pumpkins

You are enough, too. I'm not encouraging anyone to give up on their dreams, but if you aren't passionate about something you're in the wrong place. <3

black and white photo of a family picking out a pumpkin

I asked two of my friends who also decided to peruse non traditional careers and drop out of school for their experiences.

Lydia writes:

I had always been good at school and imagined myself getting a degree and making my parents proud. The day I realized I was on the wrong path, I read something that said “working hard for something you don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something you love is called passion.” I was working toward nursing school, while balancing being a student, an army wife, a new small business owner, and a mama to three little ones. I wasn’t doing ANY of them well. When I quit to focus on my new-found love of photography, I was forced to think about WHY I really wanted a degree and if it would lead me toward a job I’d be excited to work hard for each day. It seemed silly to back off of the creative (nontraditional) career that I loved for lots of student loans and a job that I MIGHT NOT love. So, I quit. And my business has grown and grown into something I’m proud of. I still will never stop learning, but I’m so thankful that I left school.

And Sam writes:

Growing up there was no question of what was going to happen after high school. You were going to college and you were getting a degree. It didn't matter if you got married and had kid, you would get your degree, or you would spend the rest of your life regretting it.

I actually dropped out twice before it stuck. The first time it was a financial choice, so I could help put my husband through school. I struggled for years with that choice. I knew it was the right choice, but I struggled so much with my self worth and my place in the world.

The second time was 6 years and two kids later, during my husband's first deployment. It was then that I finally discovered that my inner strength, which led me to realize that my true worth was not tied to some piece of paper that said how smart i was. It was so much more then that! It was my heart, my role as a mother, a friend, a wife, a daughter. It was in my passions and yes it was my brain, but I didn't need a piece of paper to tell me that.

thanks to my amazing friends who lift me up and were open to contributing. You can find them at lydiastuemke.com and willfulsoul.com

Photography procided by the amazingly talented Ashley Bass Photography www.ashleybassphotography.com