Back in 2016, during my second attempt a a college degree, it dawned on me that I have zero definition, zero motivation, and zero money to keep pursuing something I didn’t even know existed or even wanted. I decided to stop mid-term and assess myself, figure out who I am and what I wanted. I didn’t have a time limit for myself, I didn’t have an end game in mind, I just knew that taking some time to figure myself out would allow me to find some meaning and motivation.

I started at Georgia State as a Broadcasting/Journalism major right out of high school. That turned into a History major. That turned into a Math major. That turned into stopping because I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t like it. I felt like I was just going to school to be in school like everyone else was doing. I was not ready to be in school, but I did it because that is what we were and still are taught to do. From too young of an age we are taught that when you graduate high school, you SHOULD know what you want to do, and you SHOULD go to college for that.

I didn’t go on my first college visit until the November before I graduated, and I only went to Georgia State because they were the first school to accept me. My grades were fine. I looked like a student ready for college on paper. But mentally, I was merely along for the ride. I had no idea what I was doing.

My second attempt at school came online, and I again was flipping my majors around and getting nowhere. Plus, I didn’t feel like I was going to school for me, I felt like I was doing it to keep up with what others wanted for me. Along with some personal issues, that led to to stop again. I wasn’t ready.

Research shows we as humans do not fully develop our brains until our mid-to-late twenties, and I needed every bit of that development to get to where I am now. We live in a time and society where we are expected to make such a life altering and incomparably expensive decision seemingly right after most of us are handed keys to an automobile for the first time. Doesn’t that seem a little off to anyone?

This is not to discredit anyone who knew what they wanted right away or students who were ready to take that leap right out of high school, maybe even before high school even ended. That is definitely the majority group and I absolutely applaud those who stuck with what they knew and wanted until the end. My purpose here is to uplift those who feel lost or unsure, those who tried and stepped away, those who need extra time to develop themselves and figure it out.

When a big test is coming up in a class, teachers often offer timer after school lets out for study sessions. This time is optional, and allows students to come back to class and take the time to understand the material they are still unsure about so they are ready for the big test. Some students have the material down and don’t need that extra time. Some students will take every second of time they are given to ready themselves. These study sessions are for the students who need it.

For me, my time off allowed me to develop and understand myself. I was able to learn a lot professionally and personally. I was able to get to the place I know I always wanted to be, and set my feet down for some stability. I was able to surround myself with people who helped define my purpose and motivate me. And now, I am able to make this massive decision of furthering my education (for the third time) on a part-time basis as a mid-twenties young professional.

The biggest difference between now and the first two times is this: I am doing this for myself this time, not anyone else.

Making the decision to go to college out of high school should be viewed the same as taking time to go to a study session after school. Some students are ready to go, others need time to understand themselves and know what their purpose is. They need to make that decision for them. I would encourage anyone of any age who is either approaching college for the first time or contemplating returning again to take the time the time needed, no matter how long, and learn about you, and make sure this is for you and what you want to do. This is not for what anyone else wants you to do. And if that time does not line up with others around you, that is okay. Taking the time to learn about you will pay off no matter how long you need.

Today is my first day of school in pursuit of a Bachelor’s in Communication.

Today is my first day of school ever that I am doing for me.