Why I Dropped Out of College

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In the fall of last year, I was enrolled in the opticianry program at my local college. It was a promising program that boasted of an immersive learning environment that would prepare students for a stable career. My friends and family were proud of me for taking such a huge step, and I felt that it would be a challenge I would come to love. I bought the books and tools and buckled in for a crazy, but presumably rewarding semester.

And then I hit the brakes.

Okay, so my decision to withdraw wasn’t a sudden screeching halt – it built up over the course of a few weeks and through a lot of prayers and tears. But you get the idea. The deeper I got into the belly of the beast, the more I realized how much I didn’t belong there. It came to a point where I didn’t want to get out of bed because I dreaded studying the material I couldn’t bring myself to care about. But the biggest issue was that I knew I was running away from the interests and gifts that God had given me in order to pursue a sense of stability.

I received mixed reactions when I shared the news. Some were “concerned”, giving me shrugs and passive remarks. Some gave me encouraging smiles and pats on the back, respecting my choice and wanting me to be happy. Some high-fived me and called me brave, applauding my defiance of the system. In between all these things, I tried not to blame myself for taking a different path. I had to learn what it means to put my trust in God’s plans when mine fell through.

I spent my gap semester working, saving money, and researching career options. By the end, I had decided to take a leap of faith and go back to school for communications and marketing. I was always drawn to the broader fields, anyway. I still yield to uncertainty at times, but God is quick to remind me of His great provision. I’ve met some very successful graphic designers and media specialists (one of which I had an interview with recently). God used them to show me that I can use the gifts He’s given me in a career, and that His plan is not infeasible.

I suppose this means I’ve surrendered my title of college dropout, but the sentiment still remains: college isn’t for everyone. Just because a career path is stable, it doesn’t mean it’s the right fit for you. You could make all the money in the world, but if you’re pursuing something that God hasn’t called you to, you’re pursuing a false sense of stability.

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Stop Celebrating Apathy

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People who care too much about movies, television, and video games, we call fans, nerds, and geeks. If someone works too hard in one area of their life for our liking, we assume that they’re insecure about that area. If people are too religious, we call them fanatics, zealots, or extremists. Caring a lot about working out makes you a meathead, caring a lot about musicals makes you gay, caring a lot about work makes you a workaholic, and caring a lot about following rules makes you a goody-two-shoes (not that anyone uses that label anymore).

Chances are, you have passions you don’t share with other people because you’re afraid they won’t think you’re cool. Cool people don’t get excited about things. They don’t try too hard at anything. They don’t care what other people think of them.

Cool people are apathetic people. How messed up is that?

Understand that there is a place for balance. There is a point of unhealthy obsession. We, however, are not always qualified to judge where that point is for someone else. We shouldn’t feel better than someone else because we care less about doing well in school or impressing guys than they do.

We are commanded to love one another (John 13:14), which will require us to care about one another. We are commanded to work hard (Colossians 3:23, 2 Thessalonians 3:10), which will mean trying hard at something. We are commanded to live in peace with one another (Hebrews 12:14), which will mean caring to some extent about what other people think of us.

Let’s not make someone feel stupid for caring about something or someone else, no matter how stupid we think it is. Though we often are passionate about things that aren’t good for us, God has given us things that we care about for a reason. Passion, directed towards things that glorify God, brings about his purposes. And that’s what’s really cool.