I have a dear friend named Jacqueline who is easily one of my kindred spirits. She deserves a post all her own, which will come soon, perhaps tomorrow. Sweet Jacquie recently lent me a book, One Thousand Gifts. I'm only three chapters in, but I'm really enjoying the message so far. One Thousand Gifts was written by Ann Voskamp who has a blog here. Though I adore Ann's blog, it was something I read on her bio page that really gave me hope.
She had a full-tuition scholarship to college and never finished.
I love it when I hear about people who are just like me.
I'm not saying I'll never finish school. I really would love to finish someday, even if it takes me till I'm fifty. I only have about nine classes left, so it's definitely possible, but now that I'm in Oregon, I probably won't be able to go back to school for at least another year.
I recognize the possibility that I may never finish, as much as I want to. My life seems to have been one surprise after another, so I really have no idea what God has in mind next.
The truth is, my confidence was shattered when I signed that scholarship away; it felt as if I was signing my intelligence away with it. I would no longer be known as a valedictorian. I would forever be a "college dropout", the last label I ever imagined I would acquire. I thought I was letting down all those teachers and educators who had poured so much into me, who I imagined were counting on me to make them proud by achieving great things.
I guess Ann's story gives me hope because it's a reminder that success does not depend on having a college degree. Just because I gave up my scholarship doesn't mean I've lost all opportunities to do something significant with my life. It's not as if I'm incapable of accomplishing something I can be proud of without a degree.
It is a lie I have let myself believe for far too long. I can't try anything until I have that piece of paper. Well the truth is that that piece of paper doesn't equal brilliance or success. Maybe one day I'll have it. Maybe I won't.
I'm not advocating dropping out of college. I'm not saying college isn't important (though I firmly believe college is not for everyone, despite what high school guidance counselors would like you to believe). I'm saying I don't want to put my happiness on hold anymore, or be afraid to try things I really want to do.
Slowly, slowly, I'm trying to piece it all back together and regain that fearlessness I used to enjoy, the belief that I really was capable of doing great things.
"Those who wait for perfect weather will never plant seeds; those who look at every cloud will never harvest crops." Ecclesiastes 11:4
The weather may never be perfect, especially here in the northwest. But that is one important thing I've learned in my short time here - if you wait until it stops raining to do something you want to do, you might be waiting a long time.
Maybe I just needed to leave sunny California to get a bit of grit, a bit of tenacity, to learn to go out in imperfect conditions and do whatever it is I want to do, with or without that degree.
And maybe you can relate, even if it's not the college thing. Maybe you're waiting until you get married, or have kids, or have your dream job, or have tons of money, or more time, or lose ten pounds...
...nah, you're right, that just sounds silly. No one waits for those things to be happy or feel accomplished.
It must be just me.