Today I was asked by no less than three people where I went to school. I don’t remember how it came up in any of these conversations. The only thing I know is the conversations continued like this:
Them – “So, where did you go to school?”
Me – “Uh, well… um, I didn’t…”
Then comes the nervous ramblings:
“I graduated high school then I moved to Europe for awhile to be an au pair then moved back because, ya know, I fell in love ::giggle:: then I became a flight attendant and traveled all over the world and then uh… stupid economy… and now I’m here. A barista… slash waitress. And, yeah…”
Them – ::blank stare:: “Oh. That’s. Nice.” ::backs away::
And they walk away probably wondering what the heck they asked exactly and I’m left feeling an inch tall.
There’s a sinking feeling in my chest whenever I think about it. About how I judged I feel. About how stupid and backwards and behind and lame and worthless they must think I am.
Then, not much later one of the askers made a comment about me not even having been to college. It was a negative comment. I can’t remember the wording exactly…
Because I was so shocked and had to fight the urge to burst into tears. Or run away and hide in a hole.
I’m not stupid.
And I could have that stupid piece of paper. I’m smart enough. I was a straight A student for goodness sake. I love school.
It’s the idea of taking on ten of thousands of dollars in debt that terrifies me. Especially because that dumb piece of paper is no guarantee that I’ll have any better job than I do right now. But people would think better of me. They wouldn’t think I’m stupid.
Because maybe some of them don’t. I might be paranoid.
But I know some of them do. The comments prove that to me.
The “Oh but you’re… smart.” “You seem like such a smart girl.” “A degree isn’t everything.”
And I smile and laugh and agree while wishing the ground would open up and swallow me whole.
I want to scream going to college doesn’t make you better than me! I’m smart dammit!
The thing is, I love my life. I’m so happy with my life, I wouldn’t change anything. There’s no point in my life experience that I can imagine changing. I’ve had an amazing life. I’ve done more in 24 years than some people do in a lifetime. There’s so much more I have left to do and I expect it’s all going to be just as amazing.
So yeah, I didn’t go to college. I want to. I will.
But in the meantime… could you please just not ask?