I’m a College Dropout

water droplets on rose leaves
Some little water droplets resting on rose bud leaves.

Before I regale you with my banal story of college-drama, check out my guest post – as a clark! – over at the Wakefield Doctrine.  You won’t be disappointed.

Well, I’m not an undergrad drop-out.  I did get two undergrad degrees plus enough credits in art and education to qualify for a triple major.

I did drop out of an MAT program.  Twice. 

In today’s world and economy, so many people are heading for their master’s degrees.

I have so many friends who have.

In fact, of my five really, REALLY close friends in college, two of us still have our bachelor’s degrees.  One friend got her master’s and my two other friends got their PhD’s.

Plus, being in education, I kept thinking, I want that master’s degree.  I WANT that master’s degree.

So, off I went.  I was teaching Spanish, and I thought I’d do the track that would eventually make me a professor. 

I mean, everybody where I was working was getting their master’s or their National Board Certification.

I had to do it.

But then I would sit at my computer writing these 25-30 page papers in Spanish and stare longingly out the window.

¡Qué aburrido!

Or I’d stare at my artist’s easel.

Or at my camera.

Or at the multiple windows and tabs open on my computer.

Or I’d turn on some music.

I wanted to be doing ANYTHING but writing a paper.

I’d clean the house.

I’d mow the lawn.

I’d run errands.

Eventually, I would get the paper written and turn it in.  I’d always strive for an A.

But then I kept thinking Why am I doing this?  I’ve never wanted to be a teacher in the ‘forever’ sense of the word. Yes, I always want to teach in some capacity, but not like this, with the testing and grueling requirements.

So, I quit after two classes.  Plus, the campus was two hours away, so trucking it to class once a week and then teaching at the community college on top of my regular teaching job to help pay for it was about to kill me.

After a year, that same gnawing on my psyche returned and I thought, But I’ll make more money if I just get my master’s.  It’s only two and a half years.  I can do two and half years.

I returned for my MAT and endured two more classes.

Ah the money.  I think of a Gandhi quote that hit home:

“Seven social sins: politics without principles, wealth without work, pleasure without conscience, knowledge without character, commerce without morality, science without humanity, and worship without sacrifice.”

-Gandhi

It would take work to make more money.  But…would it be this kind of work?

Every time I sat down to the computer, to crank out hours and hours of reflections, essays and reading, I always thought about how I could be outside playing frisbee or how I could be hiking and drawing and doing art.

And then I thought This is not part of my overall plan.

It takes courage to listen to yourself.

I mean, my parents told their friends that they told me they were proud of me, that I’d be the first in the family to get my master’s, blah blah blah.

But I didn’t want it.

I wanted something else.

I wrote a post called Living the Life of an Artist where I had a journal entry that echoes what I wanted out of life.  It was dated in June, three years ago when I was taking one of my graduate courses.

Somewhere along the line, it dawned on me:

The world doesn’t need more people to get a master’s degree.  The world needs more beauty and love and wonderful words.

And that became my passion.  Instantly.

Every moment since then, three years ago, I’d been working on doing that very thing.

Yeah, I kept teaching.

Yeah, I kept putting my dreams off – at least a little bit.

I knew that one day I would take the plunge and just do it.

When I was student teaching back in 2006, I kept telling everyone I knew: I have 5-7 years of teaching in me.  After that, I need to be creative and autonomous.

And 6 years into my teaching career, I left it.

It sounds crazy.

But I was going crazy.

What’s life like now?

I can tell you it’s not easy.  I can tell you I have plenty of self-doubt sometimes.  I can tell you it can be really difficult to control that inner voice that says Give up.  You can’t do this.  You’re ludicrous for trying.  And you quit a good job when so many are out of work.  You’re nuts.

That stupid voice gets less and less time and space in my head.  That stupid voice, dubbed SUV (ironic, right?),  could go to hell.

  • I had to make the decision to walk away from a steady income and security.  And that’s not easy.
  • I had to make the decision to be poor – at least for awhile.  And that’s not easy.
  • I had to make the decision to give up certain comforts and just hope that everything would work out.  That’s not easy, either.

Then I started doing something: I began to spend time each day not allowing myself to dwell on any of that.

I began to read inspirational stories and filled my head with positive thoughts and a determination to live out my dream.

Because it was now or never.  Because when you think I’ll get to my dream when I retire or after the kids are grown or I’ll wait until we’re in a better financial situation then you’re giving yourself permission to live out the status quo.

That far-off day you begin living your dream and stop living the status quo might never come.

No one is going to make our dreams come true except for us.  Not only that, we’re all on borrowed time.

Too many of us end up working in jobs we don’t like, out of necessity.  And we toil away only to be replaced by someone else when we bow out.

I kept thinking about how the Education Machine was pounding out my will to live.

And that I’d be doing exactly the same thing 30 years from now if I stayed.  Believe me when I say that:

a good friend and fellow teacher put in 23 years before she retired and when she left, she literally only got a small get-together and that was that.  She was replaced the next day.

Please believe me when I say I’m not “dissing” education.

The point I’m trying to make is that we have to find our passion.

For some teachers I worked with, I knew they had found their passion.  You could feel it when they stepped into the room and no matter what happened with the administration or with national cries for “hold them more accountable” they went right on teaching with a pure fire and love in their hearts.

I admired them for that.

Then I thought, What if everyone was doing their passion?

What kind of world would that be?

I now believe that I’m helping people in a different way: from the images I snap, from the art I produce, and the words that I write.

They all help define who I am; though they only a PART of who I am.

The WHOLE of who I am is that I am making the choice to live out my values, philosophies and vision.

I hope to inspire others to join me on this road…that is admittedly full of potholes and traps and curves and ice and snow and sunny days and there’s plenty of room…follow the double yellow line until…you find your own line.

It might be a dotted line, or have reflectors that act like beacons…or it could be a smudged, nearly invisible line that will eventually lead to some panoramic vista.

And the journey will be worth it.

I have a deep-seated need to make a difference in the only way I know how: by using my talents to inspire, to add beauty, to add peace, to spread love, to bring hope.

I am not perfect.  I struggle with my own values and visions.

But I get back up each day and begin to move forward, farther than I did on the previous day.

I also believe in signs.  My friend Dana shared a video put out by UpWorthy that gave me chills.  She shared it WHILE I was writing this post.

I had to include it.  It’s well worth the 3 minutes of your time.  You might walk away changed…forever.

And may we all unite in our pursuit of happiness.  May we find happiness in little things, like water droplets on rosebud leaves.

If you like the image above, you can purchase a poster of it (or other products with the same image) over at Zazzle.com:

Budding Rose Leaves with Water Droplets
Budding Rose Leaves with Water Droplets by Pictimilitude
Check out Prints & Posters online at Zazzle.com
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31 thoughts on “I’m a College Dropout

  1. First of all I loved today’s picture. The colors alone just are so vibrant and pop!! That said I will you on following your dreams. Seriously you have to be happy and I think you are exactly where you should be now and wouldn’t change a thing. That said I am heading over to Clark’s space to read your post now, too!! 🙂

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    1. Janine – aww, hehe. You’re right: I wouldn’t change a thing. I embrace this journey for all its lessons, for all its triumphs and all its challenges because when I realize some of my goals, I know that the rewards will be that much sweeter. Thank you so much for your sweet comments. Have a wonderful Easter weekend, my friend. 🙂

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  2. Cyndi I only have my AA – I dropped out because the hospital I worked for required me to train under them for 18 months for the Sleep Program…I was working on my Bachelors and couldn’t handle both at the same time. I always planned to finish but it would not have helped me in any way! I would have just had to pay for thousands of dollars to no benefit other than having more credentials. I settled with my AA and R.PSG.T…I still hate that I didn’t finish but it would have been dumb. What would it be for? so I could go around saying, “Hi, Im Kelly and I have my BS!” hahaha 8 already got that for free!!

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    1. Kelly – lol…you’re a powerhouse. With your smarts and understanding of people, you’d think you had a PhD. 🙂 Yeah…I think the college degree is meant to help us further our careers IF we know what we’re going to study exactly…but after that, it becomes a very expensive piece of paper. If I had to do it again, I would study art…at the freakin’ community college. LOL

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  3. I love this: The world doesn’t need more people to get a master’s degree. The world needs more beauty and love and wonderful words.

    And I love that you are forthright that life is not easy right now. But life is not meant to be easy, is it? It’s meant to be worthwhile.

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    1. Nothingbythebook – well said. Yeah, I’m not looking for an easy life: I’m looking for one that is fulfilling, that includes my true path, and one where I can leave the world a better place. 🙂 Thank you so much for your words: they are powerful and give me special meaning to me. 🙂

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  4. wow…reading this the first thing in the morning…gave me goosebumps and I can assure you; I will have a great day!

    The video was awesome!
    How does man measure happiness…the dew on roses…bliss!

    Clark, I never read this side of you…I admire you for all that you do! Jai ho to you!!

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    1. Ruchira – aww, Jai ho…and I know another one: Jai Ram. It’s a mantra I repeat to myself each day as part of my meditation.
      I hope you have a great weekend!

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  5. I love that Ghandi quote. And I understand completely why you walked away from getting your masters. I did too. I had gone back to become a family counselor and a couple of months in I started wondering why… it wasn’t what I really wanted, it just seemed like a good thing to do. I also know how hard it is to make the choice to be poor… I made that too when I chose to homeschool instead of working a real job. It was more important to me that they had the freedom to pursue happiness also! We all do. 🙂 Glad to be following you while you walk this path!

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    1. Amy – yes, Gandhi is one of my heroes with everything that he did. And Amy: you ARE working a real job. You’re the best mom ever to some lucky girls. And you’re rocking it. I’m so glad we’ve met and we’re on this journey together. 🙂 Have a wonderful weekend.

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  6. There are so many things I love about this post, I don’t know where to start. “It takes courage to listen to yourself.” Love, love, love this. And that video game me chills. Such a great post, Cyndi!

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    1. Jennifer – lol…thank you so much. For some reason, little “sayings” that I drum up kept coming to me in this post.
      I’m definitely finding my voice and not making excuses for it. And you’re one of the people who’s inspiring to me. 🙂

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  7. Okay, I made a stupid mistake, I’ll admit it. With six hours left to go, I quit college and began my career in radio broadcasting. Still, I look back at the fun I had, and the fun I provided, and say, “I never could have done that if I’d have become a lawyer.” I had reached that point where school was a useless piece of time waste, and I had other things to do. I’ve sometimes regretted that decision, but then again, some of the things I’ve done have more than made up for it. Besides, there’s little to no respect for a 35 year old degree in today’s world, so no big deal. You’ve got to live your life according to your heart… and let the beat take you places you desire. Good post!

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    1. Rich – hmm, something tells me that it might be a mistake in certain contexts that you didn’t finish: from your experiences and your writings, it seems to me that you’ve lived one awesome and one hell of a life! And ya know, I’m starting to realize that sometimes breaking the mold and doing your own thing is by far more valuable than always just following the status quo. So, sir, you have all my admiration. 🙂 Keep living life according to your heart. I will do the same. 😉

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  8. Agree, Cyndi….life isn’t about the Master’s Degrees….it’s about humanity. While people need degrees for survival, and to get a good job, etc, there are many paths to success and this is definitely not the sole route to it. And it definitely doesn’t guarantee a job as well….ultimately, the person and who he is will be the factors that employers will consider! Hope you don’t mind me sharing a few thoughts on the subject!

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    1. Michelle – hear, hear! Love it – thank you for your response and feedback. Yeah, the whole “education” thing: It definitely does not guarantee anything. Sure, it boosts your chances for certain things you want to do and is a requirement for other fields, i.e. doctor, lawyer, but other than that, I’m feeling like you have to follow your own path. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts – I loved them!

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  9. I agree, if you have the courage to do it, you should follow your passion. I think in the end you’ll be much, much happier for it. Kudos to you for being true to yourself.

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  10. Cyndi, this blog post of yours is nothing less than inspiring and thought provoking. Everything you have stated is obviously heartfelt and I have always greatly valued your opinion. I’m a firm believer in building a breed of passionate and fulfilled entrepreneurs – I often wonder, am I practicing what I preach? Thank you for keeping my mind and heart in check – excellent read. By the way, I LOVE the picture!

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    1. MO, thank you so much. I love your words and your reflections. I do want people to feel the enthusiasm both in themselves and with my work, too. 🙂 Your heart and mind are in a wonderful place – YOU are wonderful! 🙂

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  11. …my favorite author was/is Carlos Castaneda, it is what he characters say, how they express themselves that keeps me re-reading the books about don Juan. There is something that don Juan about living each day without reservation, to approach the most routine and banal activity as if it were the only thing that you would ever do, it reminds me to try and always remember that (in the context of this Post, Life is a verb. It is what we do that makes us what we are….and uses the expression ‘the Path with Heart’ as being the only truly worth ambition might be, to find our own, individual Path with Heart.

    cool

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    1. Clark – you know, a friend of mine gave me Castaneda’s book to read and I haven’t, yet. He told me that that book would change my life. Maybe I need to look at it and read it now. Thanks for the inspiration. 🙂

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    1. Vicki – yes, taking the plunge is a fun roller-coaster ride, too. But yeah, whewee! It does take some courage…but once you do it, you just sort of roll with it. LOL. Thanks so much for stopping by. 🙂

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  12. The water on those leaves….WOW! Cyndi, I can’t agree more with you on this…”No one is going to make our dreams come true except for us. Not only that, we’re all on borrowed time.” I also walked away from a stable income last year. I have friends going overseas to the Maldives and Europe and America. Then there are ones starting families and getting married, and building their own houses. So much money. And I do get a little envious at times – I’m only human. But then I think about the work that I get to do every day. I get to sit at my desk with coffee and look out the window with my cats around me. I get to write what I want, when I want. I get to paint and take photographs and write poetry. It’s taken 6 months for me to get some recognition and a job for a magazine – even though it’s only 3 articles a week – but it’s something! I’m getting there, and so are you! Well, you more so than me with your exhibitions, etc! So, so proud of you! It’s a scary journey taking that first step, but we did it…and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Yay for us! 🙂

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