“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”
― Albert Einstein
When I started questioning the wisdom behind higher education, conventional careers, and the American dream I found a whole new world beyond college parties and the picket fence.
SOMETIMES IT MAKES SENSE TO DO THINGS DIFFERENTLY.
I'm not exactly sure when I started wandering off the societal "normal" path. It could be that being home schooled immersed me in a life that was a little different.
My rabbit empire in middle school was definitely different; photographers and the county fair would pay to borrow my bunnies! Or maybe it was starting a dog walking business at 15. Honestly though, I'm sure it's a culmination of experiences, most of which I probably take for granted or don't even remember. All I'm certain of is when the rubber hit the road (and I decided to skip college), I started getting LOTS unsolicited of advice from well-meaning family, friends, and even complete strangers.
Jumping from high school to a full blown career as a pet sitter raised lots of concerns and questions. While forgoing higher education was definitely a decision I struggled with and took very seriously, it just didn't fit the path I was on. If you want to be a doctor you have to go to school, but being an entrepreneur is a career you can learn "on the job".
I'd rather get my hands dirty than learn a bunch of concepts I can't actively implement. Heaven forbid I had to take a pointless elective class. I value my time, money, and sanity too much. I won't spend it on something I don't see as a good investment.
“What we become depends on what we read after all of the professors have finished with us. The greatest university of all is a collection of books.”
― Thomas Carlyle
DECIDING TO INVEST IN MYSELF CHANGED EVERYTHING.
The internet is so much more than Facebook and cat videos. Excluding a few mentors, my education consists of countless free courses found online. The coolest part about my self-designed education is I (almost) solely learned from the best the world has to offer.
Why learn advertising from a professor at a state school when Steve Jobs has an incredible model begging to be reverse engineered? Why learn management practices in a classroom when the titan that is Chick-Fil-A gives you a free education through podcasts, articles, and books? I value education, I don't always pay tuition for it though.
I study what I need to know when I need to know it, and the crazy thing is I LOVE learning. I just was NOT a fan of school. Looking back, of course there were fun classes, incredible teachers, and plenty of other things I'm grateful my mom forced me to do. But overall? I was turned off by school. It was simply a chore to get through to avoid being grounded.
Nowadays, I have a backlogged list of things I want to learn more about! The paradox about being curious and open to learning is that you will never have enough time to actually learn everything that peeks your interest.
Wanting to learn something and being required to learn it are two completely different things.
Learning to be curious is one of my greatest accomplishments to date.
Here's My Version of University
I was curious. I found things that were (and still are) exciting and engaging, then wandered down the rabbit hole that is Google... We all have a certain way we prefer to learn and for me it's reading and listening.
I read 3 books everyday, the first is for fun, the second is to help me grow my business, and the third helps me to personally grow in someway whether it be spiritual, communication, or inspirational.
Another great learning tool I picked up along the way and use almost daily are podcasts. Listening to a podcast is like sitting down with a genius and having them tell you exactly what they did to succeed in their finances, life, and business. Then they break it down even further and tell you how you can do the same! It's basically like having a free A-team of personal coaches.
The third and most fun tool is blogs and social media. Google one of your interests along with the word blog and soak up the (often hilarious) first hand knowledge of other people just like you. They aren't necessarily experts, but they're actively learning and sharing their day-to-day struggle in becoming just a little better. My favorite part about this is these people are generally very helpful and friendly. This means you shouldn't hesitate to reach out and ask questions or cheer them on. I've actually gotten to meet up face to face with several of my online friends! That's always an amazing experience.