I am getting ready to begin my college journey again. I am currently 34 years old and have approximately one year of college courses under my belt. I have worked in office settings and the service industry in the past, never making more than $30k annually (and that was by far the most). To the outside world, I may look like a failure. No skill set and very little formal education. Here is why, despite all of this, I am glad I waited...
Lets take an example of what I wanted to do my senior year of high school. You know, when you are "supposed" to know exactly what you want to do with the rest of your life and have it all perfectly mapped out. I, being a big dreamer (Go for your dreams! Reach for the moon!), wanted to become a famous actress. Yes, you read that correctly. In order to achieve this I thought I needed to attend a major acting school in NYC. So I applied, auditioned, and thank god did not make it. If I had, this is a possibility of what my life could look like now: First off, I would be in debt up to my ass. These acting schools are not cheap. So I'd have approximately $100k in student loans to repay. I'd have an acting degree, which basically means shit, and I'd be auditioning. Anyone who knows me knows I cannot handle rejection. I won't even attempt to tell a man, to this day, that I'm into him for fear of rejection. So, after a few auditions of being turned down I would have most likely collapsed into a pool of nothingness. Best case scenario turn out: I become a porn star to pay off my student loans. Worst case: I have a needle in my arm in some seedy NYC downtown apartment.
So a few years passed and my dreams changed. I wanted to become a psychologist with a private therapy practice. Yay. Lets take a look at this: It would take at least 7 years of college to obtain my Psy D. I wanted to, again, attend a very prestigious Buddhist school in Colorado. I actually got accepted to this one and was literally a few months away from going. If I had been able to complete the program in seven years while working full time (very unlikely for a person like me who is VERY type B) and having no family or friends around me, then I would graduate with about $170k in student loan debt. At the same time, I wouldn't have spent the time with my mother that I did and she would have died while I was in school. So most likely I would not have completed my degree and would just be in debt over my head. So I would have had to get a job with a bachelors degree in psychology...most likely social work. I would be making very little and probably hate my career with a passion. That is best case scenario.
Now, I am older and hopefully a bit wiser. I had years of making beautiful memories with my mother before she passed. I met an incredible man while waiting tables and had a wonderful, amazing son. We have traveled and been on many adventures that I couldn't have experienced if I were bogged down with debt. I sewed all of my wild oats and did what I wanted, when I wanted. Now we rent a cute little home in a great neighborhood and my son is about to start his journey into education. I have changed my mind completely about what I want to study. I know myself much better now. I know how to go through school and come out the other end debt free. I have no desire to "go out" at night or travel much anymore. I will be quite content studying at night after my son is in bed. I am ready.
I am far from failure. I just decided to take the long way around. The back country road with lots of twists and turns. I could have taken the highway and ended up in a horrible collision. Instead, I took the scenic route, and I am so glad I did.