I’m a college dropout. Rather, I was, but I’m officially four days away from submitting my final essay of my undergraduate career. Acknowledging that my time for graduation has come is life-changing and a surreal moment that felt like it would never come.
It has taken me six years to graduate college. I graduated high school at seventeen and began studying at Indiana University. However, about three months into school, I became withdrawn from my classes and lonely for my family. After a prolonged discussion with my parents, we decided the best thing for me to do was to come home.
I felt humiliated and ashamed to have to admit to my friends at home that I dropped out of school. It appeared as if all my friends were excelling in their classes while seamlessly making new friends on the weekends. I kept asking myself what was wrong with me.
Now that I’m sitting here, a soon-to-be alumna from NYU, I can say that I have learned a few things along the years.
Take time to find your passion
There is nothing wrong with dropping out of school. In my case, I was not emotionally or mentally prepared for the difficulty of my classes or being far away from my family.
Having a gap year helped me decide what major I wanted to pursue. Some people know at 18 years old, but some people do not, and that’s okay! I started out in English, but will be graduating with an Economics degree, a major that I would have never thought to pursue four years ago.
Some of the most amazing professors I had were at the community college I attended for two years. I decided to take a variety of different classes including philosophy, finance, and economics to see what piqued my interest. My accounting and economics professors engaged me in class so much that I actually found myself enjoying what I was learning. Both of those professors would later end-up writing teacher rec letters for me during my transfer process.
We all grow emotionally, mentally, and physically in different ways from one another. It sounds cliché, but the only person you should be comparing yourself against is you. This is the best way to understanding personal growth, your interests, and the direction you might want to take in the future. At the same time, don’t forget that it’s okay to ask and rely on advice from people who have your best interests in mind.
Find a mentor
When I first moved to NYC, I was occasionally reminded of how lonely I felt at Indiana University. However, my dad introduced me to my mentor. He has helped me begin understanding the ins and outs of finance, in addition to supplying an insurmountable amount of encouragement to discover what I like and dislike about the industry.
I used to think being a college dropout was too taboo to talk about, but I can genuinely say that taking a gap year was crucial to my mental and emotional development. I feel grateful for having a wonderful support system that has facilitated my journey of self-discovery. Being just a few day away from graduation reminds me just how worth the struggle has been and I know now that I will be better equipped to deal with hardships in the future.
Did you take a gap year? Do you wish you had?
Ask Levo mentor and Pinterest team member Tara Syed Williams about how she planned for her career in college!