After high school ended, I did the one thing every teenager wants to do. I ran away from my problems -in this case, the fear of starting college. I packed up my bags and fled the country to become an over-worked and under-paid au pair in Germany. Basically, I was a live-in nanny for two sweet but bratty children under the age of 10. Once my year-long contract was up, I headed back to the good old sunshine-y beaches of southern California, ready to face college at last!
Or so I thought.
I completed my first semester with some small hiccups – anatomy was more difficult than I ever thought it could be; also I changed my major and it became an irrelevant class (I finished it anyways) – and partied hard over the winter holiday. By which I mean I secluded myself in the mountains for two weeks and enjoyed the snow with family. I still felt exhausted from that first semester when the next round of classes started. And it showed.
At the end of my second semester I had a whopping 2.5 GPA. Definitely not something I wanted to bring home to my parents! I opted out of taking summer semester courses for a couple of reasons:
- I wanted to work full time over the summer,
- to fund my independence streak – I had moved out of my parent’s house in April to pleasant-but-way-over-priced student housing near a major university
- I wanted some spending cash for the various trips planned for the summer (re-visiting Germany, a family wedding)
And, most importantly,
- School was seriously bumming me out. I’m talking full-blown, sit-on-my-ass-and-cry to wall-staring-apathy, bummed me out.
I’ve struggled with depression for most of my life and it recently occurred to me that school wasn’t helping much.
Why was college getting me so down? Why couldn’t I do what my parent’s said I needed in order to be successful in life? Why couldn’t I just be like every one else in my family, suck it up, and get my degree?
So I did what any self-respecting daughter of an engineer would do and I sat down and made myself a list. Granted, it was a short list. But each item on it weighed heavily in my mind:
- I didn’t really have direction. Sure, I had a major that I told people I was pursuing – International Business, for anyone who’s curious – but I wasn’t overly interested in it. I didn’t really want it.
- Over the summer I’d found that I actually loved my job. Truly loved-loved it. Maybe I could spend the rest of my life as an administrative assistant. Maybe I could work my way up and become an executive assistant. Either way, despite what my mother always said, I was having way more fun working full-time than going to school.
Honestly, direction was the most important thing here- I was wasting my parents’ money to pursue something that wasn’t making me happy without really knowing what I was going to do with it.
After a lot of thinking, I’ve come to the conclusion that school isn’t what I want right now. I talked to a lot of important people in my life and the number one thing they emphasized was that I have to do what makes me happy.
That’s the million dollar question isn’t it.
I don’t know. But it isn’t school.
It might be a full-time job. It might be travel. It my be my dearly beloved cat (Stella!). It might be my boyfriend of 8 months. They all make me happy now, but will they in 5 years? I don’t know. I’m trying to find out.
Which Brings Me to the Title
Know when to quit. I’m quitting school. I’m going to look for a second job to supplement my part-time office position. I’m sacrificing my parents’ approval for what makes me happy. Or for a shot at it, at least. Today is the big day – I get to talk to the people who pay for my car insurance and phone bills about stopping something that they find incredibly important. Wish me luck.
This is my journey in finding purpose and through that, happiness.