Mark Twain once said,

“Don’t let schooling interfere with your education”.

I love this quote and believe in it’s message whole-heartedly… perhaps because I’m a high-school dropout, or maybe because I’m creative-minded. Either way, it will mean something different to everyone, and probably mostly – if not entirely – based on their own formal education or the investments they made in it.

While lacking a proper education may seem like a detrimental attribute to have on a young, ambitious woman’s repertoire, it has yet to affect me in a negative way.

I’m a right-brained force, a free spirit, and a true creative soul. I ooze optimism and imagination. Lord knows I’d have changed my major a million times had I gone to a university. I’m not one to go with the flow, follow the crowd, or do much of anything that is considered commonplace.
But I wasn’t always that way. In high school, being “cool” wasn’t about being unique or standing out, it was about fitting in. Being accepted. And that was what I wanted.
I was homeschooled from 1st-8th grade so unfortunately for me, I was the definition of “different”.

I didn’t know then, that being different was actually a good thing.

I began working full time, during what would have been my senior year of high school. I got to travel to Europe at the age of 17 with my boyfriend and his family – a trip that gifted me a new perspective on the privileged, spoiled life I’d been given. I moved out on my own by the time I turned 18, and decided to go back to school part-time to study journalism. Although I completed several pre-req & writing classes at a community college over the next 3 years, I never obtained a degree. I didn’t even get my GED.

To my surprise though, no one seemed to notice… or care. My jobs ranged from retail and sales management, to working in restaurants, hotels, medical offices, administration, and as a dental assistant. I founded and ran a successful business for 2.5 years before landing the most difficult job I’d had yet; motherhood.

Over those years, I gained skills and abilities that I never would have acquired in school, such as relationship building & customer service, problem solving in high stress situations, multi-tasking, and so many other things that are invaluable.

I believe that our basic required prerequisite as adults ought to be based on life-experiences and a developed emotional intelligence. Common sense, awareness, and compassion are rare these days, far more than they should be, and I feel they are more important than anything else. Period.

After that, have at the books! Go to college! Study your heart out! Get your degree(s)! But do it because you want to, because it’s your passion and it makes your heart happy.

I once had a boyfriend tell me that he was smarter than me because he went to college and I didn’t. He had attended a 4-year university, gotten a degree, and shortly after graduating, landed his dream job (which he later discovered he absolutely hated).
The guy couldn’t spell, and his grammar was atrocious. He had to write daily reports at work, and I am baffled as to how he accomplished that – or how it was even accepted! He was very small-minded and had zero ambition. He didn’t enjoy reading, learning, or developing his skills/talents. He was dull and lifeless, and yet he thought he was better than me because he had a piece of paper that said so.

Clearly, that relationship didn’t last… but neither did his ego.

(I wasn’t cruel, I promise.)

When I look at my daughters and imagine what they’ll be like as adults, the things I wish most for them to be are kind, aware, and driven. I want them to believe in themselves. But in order to do that, they must first know themselves. And the best way to accomplish that?

LIFE. Real life.

It’s working a variety of jobs and meeting an assortment of people. ALL KINDS of people.
It’s struggling financially, and figuring it out.
It’s overcoming pride, and sometimes asking for help.
It’s discovering what happens when you push your limits.
It’s taking everything in. Appreciating everything – even the bad things.
It’s learning the value of a dollar, the value of a minute, and the value of kindness.

What does “education” mean to you?