"College isn't for me."

Raised with the mindset that a college degree is the ultimate life goal, I used to think this was just an excuse made by those afraid to try. The only thing that made me think differently was actually going to college myself.

There will always be stories of people who graduate and build careers in fields completely unrelated to the categories on their degrees. That's all they are: categories. I even hear professionals in my field talk about using their physical degree twice in a lifetime-- to take pictures and hang it in a frame on the wall.

We pay all this money to attend universities that are constantly finding ways to charge broke students more money for things like overpriced school spirit attire and parking spaces that are never available. Then we take a field trip to the "real world" and are made to feel like the last two years of required general education courses were a complete waste of time and money.

It's discouraging.

I've sacrificed so much time and sleep in an effort to keep my grades up and maintain statuses like the honor roll and Dean's List-- titles that I should be proud of but aren't an end-all-be-all.

Those who aspire to go to graduate school and generally value academic merits over life experiences need these titles to succeed-- and that's not a bad thing. I admire their dedication, but I also admire those who aren't afraid to admit that college isn't for them and are genuinely happy with their choice.

To each their own.

I've certainly had my fair share of existential crises while in college. Why am I here? Why am I waking up at six in the morning when I'm lucky if I get to bed by one or two? Why am I required to pay for course material I'll never use again? What is the point of all of this?

Am I happy?

The more I study, the more these questions invade my brain and push me to a breaking point. There will always be unnecessary bullshit to be dealt with, even after college. It doesn't stop, whether you attend trade school, community college, state school, ivy league or no college at all-- it doesn't stop.

Then I hear stories of people who had wished they stuck with it and are trying to find the means to go back. They gave up on something they've always wanted to do because they feared the obstacles. These are the stories that keep me from throwing in the towel. I imagine the day I apply for a dream job I feel qualified for but am turned away because I don't have a degree. It's time to swallow my pride.

Happiness is a grind. I have goals, and to obtain those goals, I need to navigate the obstacles. I've been given the opportunity to succeed in a field that makes me happy early on in life, and I'd be a fool not to follow through with it.

If you're genuinely dreading the thought of the path you're on, by all means, change it; but if you have a dream and are just trying to understand why you have to struggle for two, four or even eight years to get there, don't stop now.

There are infinite finish lines out there, but you'll never cross your own if you detour in the wrong direction.