By: Cherise Floyd
Blogger of Life Rii-Imagined
This is where you work for someone else for 40 hours a week for 40 years and try to retire off of 40% of what you could barely live on when you were working. This is sadly, the reality for a large majority of people.
I want to be a writer. It took me six years, two degrees, and $88,000 of student loan debt to discover I want to be a writer.
I wasn’t encouraged to be a writer, to write poetry, to write stories, or songs. I was encouraged to write essays. Essays to institutions of higher education describing how they should let me in, how successful I could become if only given the opportunity. I was never encouraged to chase my own passion. Going to college was drilled in my head so much I was convinced it was the only way to achieve “success”. It was the only way to get a high paying job, to buy a home, and raise a family in that said home.
While college was an amazing experience that I believed shaped me into who I am today, it wasn’t necessary. Oftentimes I worked two to three jobs to make ends meet in addition to taking classes. I was largely miserable during that time and only kept going because in my mind the prize, ie, success, happiness, a career, etc. Was all on the other side of a degree.
I remember being at graduation surrounded by my peers who were either smiling ear to ear or crying tears of happiness. I sat there waiting for that flood of emotions to hit me. For me to feel like “I had made it” because after all, this degree was the key to me getting the house, the white picket fence, etc, etc.
Sadly, I left wondering why I bothered to attend the ceremony at all. I had luckily not fallen into that “cant find a job in your field after your graduate” statistic and had secured an entry-level position at a Medicaid HMO company Downtown Detroit. I loved working there, and I loved my job until I didn’t that is. After working there for a couple of months I started to feel my happiness slipping away. I started to see the nepotism and blatant favoritism for white coworkers over workers of color and I knew I wouldn’t be able to grow there. The gotcha is one, you didnt even need a degree to work there. Two, they offered this program that after you finished having it is the equivalent to a bachelors degree, and three, they offered tuition reimbursement. So here I am $88,000 in debt just to work with and make the exact same amount of money as people with high school diplomas.
I honestly cant believe that I based my happiness off of working for someone else. Off of being with someone else. I think back to that and I laugh because the things I want for my life has changed so drastically over these past couple of years. The only thing I could possibly see myself doing right now is writing and traveling. I am trying to save to be able to backpack for about a month or two overseas next summer. My dream is to be able to quit my 9-5 and write full-time. No alarm clock, no stress, no morning traffic or afternoon rush hour. Just me, paper, and a pen writing my little heart out. Some of the most successful people have no degree or higher education at all, do you think a college education is needed to achieve your dreams? America has convinced us that “living” is slaving away for someone else for about 40 to 50 years and THEN can you retire and “have fun” and “enjoy your life”.
But what about right now?
Do you have a degree? if yes:
Has having it drastically changed your life?
If no, have you been able to find happiness and success (whatever you deem as being successful) without having a degree?