New Direction

A New Direction – Redefining Success

Okay folks – it’s time for the truth to come out.

New Direction

Disclaimer – these opinions are the opinions of the writer and even though she names certain names, she means nothing against these certain people and in fact is friends with some of them, she just wants to point out some stuff that these people don’t cover in their literature that is similar to College Rebellion.

So far the posts on College Rebellion have been focusing on inspiration and encouragement to pursue one’s own education insofar as one is able to in order to decide whether one’s path includes a college degree of some sort or not, and how to go about being autodidactic about one’s life regardless of college’s current involvement. We’ve also been making it a personal goal to find and report on resources for at-home and travel-related ways to get knowledge and experience in your chosen area(s) of study.

However, we’ve barely taken the tip off the ice berg here. Really, this is a confession – I have felt like something has been missing from College Rebellion for a long time and haven’t been able to put my finger on it up until recently. Actually, it’s something I feel very deeply that the entire “Uncollege Movement” is missing.

I was finally able to put my finger on what College Rebellion was missing when I ran across this article, “When ‘Life Hacking’ is Really White Privilege.” Just replace “Life Hacking” with “Hacking Your Education”, and you’ve got the theme of the rest of this article. By the way, read the original article too – it’s some good stuff.

Then everything clicked when an essay I wrote three years ago got recently published in Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko and Dr. Carlos Ricci’s book, Natural Born Learners: Unschooling and Autonomy in Education.  While the content of the essay is definitely more reflective of the Jessica of three years ago, the spirit of my message and the title of the essay are really what College Rebellion was ever all about: Redefining Success.

I want to get back to that as being the #1 intention here.

First of all I don’t want we, the “normal” people in this world, to feel victimized by our circumstances to the point where we can’t get out of the negative headspace to at least start seeing some aspect of our dreams come to life; however, I also feel like so far College Rebellion has been shallow and insensitive to those of us who are not and will not ever be able to live the epic, parentally subsidized travel, adventure, and entrepreneurship that so many of our peers effortlessly pursue.

I’ve been really upset for quite a while because try as I might, I can’t live up to all the “aim for your dreams!” mantra I preach on this website, because I feel like I have to as part of the Uncollege Movement. I say “those of us” because the person I’ve been trying to fit into the Epic Box the most is myself – I haven’t allowed myself to accept the fact that I want to live a normal life, that I feel my success depends neither on going to college nor not going to college, nor even what I do in or out specifically. I have dreams, yes: but I also have finally reached the point where I am confident that following certain Big Dreams is actually not the most important thing to me in life. Can you believe that?

My boyfriend suggested that I start a new website called “College Rebellion Rebellion.”

However, from here on out I’m going to refocus more, with emphasis still on helping everyone who comes to this website decide whether college is a wise choice for some point in the next stages of their life.

With College Rebellion and its predecessor Life Without College I’ve been trying to encompass the two other main lifestyles that not going to college often lends itself to: extensive travel (brought to you primarily by Blake Boles), and entrepreneurship (brought to you primarily by Dale Stephens). The thing is, those are only two facets of a very wide range of people who have decided to not go a completely traditional route.

I have traveled a bit, yes. I also have this little website. But what dropping out of college in 2008 has really sealed for me is that my true dream, the most important thing to me in life, is the simple stuff. Being able to have a job that pays enough so that I have the time and means to spend time with my boyfriend, my dog and cats, my friends, and my family back home. Time and money to garden, to take walks, to work on my little stories, to read books and learn new things.

And I know I’m not alone in valuing these far above being “epic.” It’s just not for everybody and you know what? Thinking that it was was causing me to sell myself short, which is the exact opposite from what I want College Rebellion to ultimately promote. I mentioned to a cohort of mine, Peter Kowalke of Unschooler.com about Russell’s idea of “College Rebellion Rebellion” as I was detailing to him my also recent decision to soon begin pursuing a college education again. He made the suggestion of “College Sellout.” And while I didn’t want to run two opposing websites, I have decided to adopt that title for my personal blog. Please feel free to check it out – my “About” page details specifically why I have made this personal choice.

Anyway, I am just writing to include you all in my decision to turn College Rebellion in a slightly different, more real-life focused blog and website. I am currently on the lookout for more contributors of both information, opportunities, and personal anecdotes of the life and times of College Rebels and their Allies. We’re all on the same boat here, and I’m sure all of you would love to hear perspectives from other writers than just me all the time!

Stay tuned folks, and don’t forget I am always open to any sort of feedback you have in the comments below, and/or feel free to email me via the contact page with suggestions and proposals for guest articles. I am also taking submissions for a new “Your Story” forthcoming section of the website, so let me know if you’d like to see your story on College Rebellion! Thank you for all your support!! ~Jessica

That Green Grass is Talking: Being Realistic

green grass is talkingI very often feel like there is some unspoken unschooler competition to one-up each other in what amazing, epic adventures we all can have in as short amount of time as possible.  I am quite certain I am not the only one who feels this, but I could be wrong.

The thing that every human being has to come to terms with eventually, no matter their background, is that the grass is always greener.  That rings so true, and it hurts.  Imagine being some epic-looking person like a Cirque du Soleil acrobat.  That must be the most amazing job in the world, right?  Well, actually… I can’t exactly speak for them, but I know just from spending over half of my life doing dance and theatre that it gets boring doing the same thing over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over again.  And Cirque du Soleil performances are 5 times a week at least, for a year or more (most shows running  now have been running for years, though I am sure that not all the performers stay in the shows their entire run considering things like getting old and whatnot).  They all probably wished they had an exciting office job.

The problem with the “Must do Epic Things at All Times” mentality is that, while it is good to realize you can do epic things with your life, it is impossible to be doing epic things all the time.  Dishes must be washed.  Laundry must be done.  Sanity must be kept up by taking time to relax and read a book, or go out for coffee with friends.  And, possibly most importantly, money must be made – even if the only way to do that is to spend 30-40 hours a week having your soul sucked out by the dementors of the corporate world.

Who is telling you that you must only do epic things all the time anyway??  That grass that looks greener is who.  Yes, it’s talking.  Kind of like Audrey II.  And, yes, it will eat you alive.

This is a tough, tough lesson to learn; at least, it has been for me.  It comes down to CMAWOT Syndrome: Caring Too Much About What Others Think.  (Pronounced “SEE-ma-what”.  Trust me on this. )  It lives in all of us, to an extent (there is a spectrum, you see.)  It starts about the “middle school” age, regardless whether you are homeschooled or not, and slowly eats up the part of our brains that allow us to think for ourselves.  It’s normally cured only by a painful slap in the face, unless counteracted early by rare personalities.  There has not yet been a test invented to find out who does and doesn’t have this Rare Personality at a young age.

Anyway, enough of that.

It’s true, though.  You’d better believe it.

Jessica’s Not Entirely Fool-Proof Method for Attempting to Get Over CMAWOT Syndrome to Some Extent or Another:

(Remember, I’m not a life coach.  I’m just attempting to put into steps some stuff I’ve had to do to myself recently.  Please berate me with incessant questions on what the heck I mean.)

You need to take some serious time alone, or time talking to one or two really, really good friends whom you know will be honest with you.  (I would have just suggested time alone, but then I remembered that I’m an introvert and I’d better attempt to come up with options for my extraverted readers.)  And really take the time.  Set aside a whole day, or even several days to a week.  Go somewhere you feel completely calm and comfortable, and where you feel you are able to think clearly.  This varies for each person, so I won’t tell you it’s definitely your house, or definitely the public gardens, or definitely across the country in a giant bookstore.  Just pick a place with the comfort of your soul in mind.  It’s pretty much very important.

When you are in this place, with yourself or with your friend (read extraverts: NOT YOUR ENTIRE POSSE), and you have calmed down your mind, begin to slowly think.  That’s right.  Slowly.  Think.  At the same time.  It’s hard.

Think back to when you were younger.  Say, between the ages of 8 and 11.  What did you do with yourself then?  How did you act?  Who were you, back in the day when you didn’t care what others thought?  What would you be doing now if suddenly God gave you magical powers to never ever care what people thought, or how what you’re doing looks?

That’s just the first step, and I do implore you now to ask yourself some questions of your own.  I can’t think of all the questions myself, unfortunately.

Next, start making logistical plans for ALL of the things you want to do, and balance that against realistic means for doing them.  Notice that it is really stupid do do all of those things.  Repent.

Okay, don’t repent.  Just cry a little and have a moment or two of utter humbleness.  It’s alright, you’ll feel better about things soon.

Okay, math time!  The next step is to divide step one (childhood loves and actions) into step two (logistical failure).  Or maybe it’s the other way around…. well, anyway, divide one into the other as you see fit.  The answer will be something like 2, remaining pi.

That is to say, you will have a couple of options to seriously look at, with the comfort of knowing that they are really what you want to do.

Make sense?

DSCN9782

Purpose

This is part one of a 3-part series.

I always talk about success and doing what you love, but never address a perfectly large portion of the population, especially of the “skipping college” population: those who don’t exactly care what they do. I don’t mean complacent people; I mean people who just want to live their life. If you’re one of these people, you know what I mean, and since I’m writing this for you, it doesn’t really matter if I explain myself or not.

This is a sentiment I’ve expressed myself before. Our culture, while wonderful, has its flaws: the need to achieve and be epically successful is pressed upon everyone, including those who would much rather lie low and play the ukulele as they watch trains whistle past their house.

You probably feel perfectly contented and possibly even excited about just putting in the hours at a job that pays the bills so you can come home and do what you want to: read a book, play guitar, visit with friends, knit scarves, play video games, think about oatmeal, whatever it happens to be. My talk of “success” perhaps doesn’t completely register; also, I’m sure it belittles the satisfaction you feel as you carry on in your daily life.

So I want to tell you something that you probably already know, but I know it’s easier when you’re not the only one holding this belief up for yourself: you don’t have to “grow up” and pick something. Yes, of course everyone needs to make some sort of a living at some point to support yourself and maybe one day your family: so you get a job. You can make a pretty decent living waiting tables, or you could use a talent you already have to do something like give piano lessons, just for a couple ideas.

With this website, I want to emphasize and encourage the truth that nobody seems to want to admit these days: every person is legitimate in what they want to do, what they find their purpose in. Even if it doesn’t include a 4,000 square foot house, a private jet, and season NFL tickets.

You don’t have to be crazily passionate about what pays the bills! Sure, we would all like to like what we are doing all the time, and there’s nobody saying you can’t like a job just because it’s not “your DREAM.” But, whatever the end result happens to be, I can firmly attest there ain’t nothin’ like putting in your hours so you can come home and freely do exactly what you want to do.

DSCN9782So do it! And don’t let anybody tell you that you must do otherwise.

Still need help figuring out what you want to do to make money?

Click here for the next in this series, Passion!

This series is loosely based off of “The Three D’s” in my new e-book, Life Without College: The Method – which will be available December 1st, 2014! Please fill out the sign-up form in the sidebar to receive further updates on its release!

Defining Success

defining success

“Many successful college kids would have been successful whether they went to college or not.”

“The bachelor’s degree? It’s America’s most overrated product.”

“More people need to realize that you don’t have to get a four-year degree to be successful.”

At some point, before or after you read this entry, I highly recommend reading this short article from which I have pulled the above quotes, Living the Good Life Without College.

This John Stossel article stirs up copious controversy among its readers: there is a frighteningly obsessive value put on “education” in this day and age; particularly on K-12 and University being the only means of achieving a “proper” education. Words I hear repeatedly in these arguments are “job,” “employment,” and “success,” often coupled with “you can’t.”

A huge amount of fear is ingrained in the American mind. We are told by teachers, politicians, peers, and often our family that, to paraphrase John Taylor Gatto, we must go to school, work hard, and get good grades; go to college, work hard, and get good grades; graduate, get a job, work hard for 40 years in that job to get as many promotions as possible and make as much money as possible, in order to buy as much STUFF as possible. So, in essence, the purpose of education is to own large amounts of grand material possessions. How valiant. How patriotic.

“Success” is a lightly thrown-around word these days.  What is this ever-sought enigma of ultimate achievement? What does that word really mean?

It is time we stepped out and thought for ourselves enough to acknowledge we want something different.  Something better. It’s an injustice to deny ourselves the true success of passion pursued.

It really is strange: in spite of everything else you could do in your precious young years, you are told to jump right into college after graduating highschool, whether you know what you want to do or not.  And, because you are unsure of what to do, you run the risk of college becoming another comfort zone, as grade school probably was – a safe cocoon delaying your rightful introduction to the Real World of Real Awesome Things.  So many of us jump into college not knowing why, or what we want to do afterwards.

Is it worth wasting years of our lives slogging away at something we are hardly passionate about, just because we are supposed to??

Somehow, it is tempting. By November 2007 (my “senior” year) I had gone around in millions of circles in the past eight months or so, pondering over what I truly wanted to do for the rest of my life. Every time I’d settle on something I would say to myself, “Okay, this is the one this time! This is my calling.” Of course, I usually changed my belief about what my “calling” was every month, give or take a couple of weeks. Naturally, it would have been be nice for me to simply choose one thing to study for four years, and sit back and “relax” while I learned it all, feeling secure in the knowledge that, once I graduated, I would have a degree that would supposedly allow me to make tons of money in the corporate world. But, by the time I would have graduated, would I have even wanted to have a job even close to what I had majored in?

I am 21 now: the answer is a firm NO.  And that’s for a myriad of reasons that I couldn’t have even comprehended at 17.

What have I been doing these past four years?

I’ve lived with passion, reverence, and awe: embraced this life and what it gives me, discovering myself and what I love doing – discovering the world and what it holds for me, and what I can give back.

When we are passionately pursuing life, we are successful.  We can do this with or without college: it is up to you whether you go now, later, or never.

“Success: To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson