When I graduated high school, college was about the last thing on my mind. Half of this had to do with fearing the unknown and the prospect of having to make shotgun decisions that would impact my entire adult life. Most of my family had pursued college degrees immediately after high school and their intent, by and large, was for me to tread a similar path. Being somewhat the typical teenage soul that I was, the idea of spending more of my life cooped up in a classroom sounded tantamount to a private hell rather than an illustrious pursuit of my future.
I spent a year and a half in a directionless abyss and here's why that's OK.
The summer after graduating high school, I took on a job at a local thrift store. The hours were long, and the pay was barely over minimum wage, but the fact that I had no financial obligations short of a phone bill made the few hundred dollars I took in every few weeks feel like millions. Fast forward to the end of the summer, and I was greeted with the sudden divorce of my parents. Once the initial shock wore off, I realized that I had a lot of growing up to do in a very short amount of time.
I began saving my money with the grand vision of moving into an apartment -- a goal which was accomplished a few months later upon moving in with some friends of mine. Here's where I got a cold splash of reality: you never truly know people until you're living with them. To keep it brief, we never wrote down or even talked about who was going to pay what.
Add to that the fact I had entered a relationship just before moving in and said the relationship was already starting to show cracks. I left the apartment after three months, and my former roommates and I bought out of the lease shortly after.
It was around this time that the gears of my conscience started shifting, albeit slowly like the cantankerous transmission of my ancient Chevrolet. I wanted more than mundane work and a fluctuating living situation, which was all that my future had in store at the time. At the urge of my mother, I signed up for classes at Northern Oklahoma College just to see where the wind would take me.
A funny thing happened in the midst of my second semester: I felt the spark I had been lacking and I was beginning to love college, specifically my English courses. Luck had crossed my path as I was met with a cocktail composed of an incredibly passionate professor and incredibly interesting subject matter (this particular class discussed and analyzed graphic novels, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's "Sandman" being a personal favorite).
Fast forward through several bad relationships and an unhealthy amount of black coffee, and here I am in the English department at Oklahoma State, pursuing lofty dreams and writing for the love of the art. My whole point in mumbling my life's story is that sometimes negative experience is necessary to awaken passion and also that it is perfectly OK to live and learn before pursuing something so daunting as a college degree.