My Most Expensive Financial Mistake Ever

Many people tell you that you should postpone going after your dream if it’s an unconventional way to support yourself financially. Those who love you, usually older relatives that have succumbed to the demands of everyday life, will point out the majority of people that don’t make it when following a wacky dream similar to yours (this is especially true if the road is one of creativity like artist). Yet, on January 8, 2014, I sat ruminating on some things and it occurred to me that living safely netted me my most expensive financial mistake ever.

You are probably wondering what this mistake is but if you are like so many other people in the United States, especially hard-pressed and out-of-work Millennials, then you already have an idea of what I’m going to say.

My most expensive financial mistake ever is that I went to college*.

To my knowledge, I owe roughly $104,000 in student loans (I rounded up but only slightly). Thinking about my degrees (B.S. in Psychology and M.A. in Urban Education Policy), I’m grateful for the training and the amazing professors I studied under. However, 17-year-old me would make a completely different decision about life if she knew what I know now.

That’s a hard and frustrating pill to swallow.

I’m not upset about the limited advice that family members shared with me when I pondered whether I should go to college. After all, that next step is the logical step when you are talking about a person who had been on someone’s Honor Roll since kindergarten and excelled almost effortlessly when it came to academics (Physics does not count as Physics is Satan himself in some academic form). Why would an A-student want to be an artist or a dancer? Because that’s what she spent her free time doing.

And that’s the realization that hit me like a ton of bricks.

I feel (somewhat) hindered by what society deems as acceptable and I feel exposed admitting that I am a perfectionist who seeks the support and approval of others – part of why I’m in this hot shit right now. But the great thing about being exposed is that once you let go of the shame from your confession, you can move on.

In my case though, it’s too bad I can’t readily relieve myself of this chain I’m attached to.

With that being said, I made a personal vow to myself. From this day forward, I will focus on living my joy while sharing all of my Life Fails so that others don’t have to suffer like I did. I don’t know if Sallie Mae would consider this a job but they probably don’t care seeing as I can’t tell them how much I can contribute toward that late payment. It is my hope, as always, that those of you who read this blog take something from this painfully transparent post (don’t tell my Mom though, let me…thanks.) and apply it to your life. Life is for the living and you shouldn’t have to waste your time holed up in a cubicle or chained to a desk while wearing some “approved in the dress code outfit” to make a wage that will pitifully cover your living expenses.

Seriously.

The moral: Do what you want. Live in joy. The money will follow and you won’t find yourself on someone’s couch wondering where the hell you went wrong. The end.

*I want to say that I’m extremely grateful for every soul that I have ever come into contact with as a result of following a traditional course of study. Some of my closest friends and strongest supporters are in my life because of this. I hope that none of you read this as an expression that I could do without you because that couldn’t be further from the truth. I just wish I hadn’t wasted so much time doing something that I know in my heart of hearts doesn’t fill me with joy – which is hoping to share the “correct” answer in a lecture hall to receive some arbitrary mark of satisfactorily mastering material that some dead, white guys agreed on.

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8 thoughts on “My Most Expensive Financial Mistake Ever

  1. Thanks for sharing!

    Folks assume that because you are smart that you MUST go to college. I strongly disagree. If it’s not what you want to do, why go? I think I’d change the colleges I went to. I would have listened to my father, stayed local for the first two years, and then found an affordable college to attend out of state (because our local university isn’t the greatest). I also would have majored in something I LOVED instead of something marketable…because I have a marketable degree, BUT, since I wasn’t passionate about it, I wasn’t intentional about maintaining the skills I learned in school and as a result I’m behind the curve three years (which is alot in the PR/Marketing/Comm field considering how social media changes things DAILY). To this day, my advice to folks is do what you love, the money will follow. Being mediocre in something marketable doesn’t pay well (or sometimes doesn’t pay at all).

    • Exactly that (on the assumption piece). My thing is that I want people to know that college is a brick-and-mortar institution that will always be there. NOW…we even have the options of attending online. I just want people to try what they love first and to not feel like college is the answer because they’ve been told it was the right thing to do. To me, it was my biggest mistake because I could have done something else entirely and had I failed at that, I’d have been more than okay with going to college because I always thought of it as a backup plan.

      Thanks for reading and sharing your thoughts!

    • Yeah. College does seem overrated but I think in some cases it makes sense (like the kid who KNOWS they want to be a counselor beyond a shadow of a doubt). I could go on and on and on about our educational system as a whole (I am a trained Policy Analyst) and how there is a breakdown long before we start to push young people to college. If I had my druthers though, every child would walk away from high school knowing what they were passionate about and pursuing that. That’s my message now.

  2. *Applause* When I was a kid I was told if I go to school I’d be guaranteed a good job. HA! Nothing could be further from the truth. Colleges are businesses and students are commodities. Through their marketing they have convinced the public they are worth it. Shame.

    • I think that many of us were caught up in a shift of who became a viable candidate for traditional workspaces in the US. The other thing that I think is many people who offer advice can’t see past the experiences they didn’t get. Much of my decision to attend a four-year university was influenced by people who didn’t have the opportunity to attend school.

      With all that being said, I am now the advocate that is uninvited from future career days because I tell students that college will be there when they decide it’s right for them. I encourage them to go do what they are passionate about and let the Universe/God/Creator sort everything else out.

      Thanks for reading!

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