The Beauty of Being Underestimated

I’m 5’2″. I’m blonde. I’m pretty quiet. I dress nicely.

Most people take one look at me and assume they know exactly what they’re dealing with: a basic white girl, small and kind, with basic opinions, in need of  guidance and possibly even protection.

Little do they know; “though she be but little, she is fierce” (William Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream).

The other day at work, I was standing behind the customer service desk with one of my coworkers, a man in his thirties, when a customer, also a man, probably in his late forties, approached the desk. He asked us to help him locate a particular book, speaking only to my coworker, without so much as a second glance at me. After he had given us the title of the book and the author’s name, my coworker began to look up the book in our database, as we often did, not knowing the location of our entire inventory. However, having read the book myself, I said “I love that book! I know where it is,” and my coworker passed the customer off to me, as we so often did, helping each other out. As I handed the man the book and attempted to make small talk about it, he was oddly quiet. I went back to the desk, leaving him to look around on his own.

Later, he approached the desk again to ask for another title. This time he marched straight up to me.

“Ok, know-it-all,” he began, “how about this one.”

Only then did I realize he was mocking me. Only then did I realize that his quietness earlier had been a reaction to my knowledge, a knowledge he had presumed I didn’t have. Now he was making an effort to prove me wrong. A justified smile spread across his face when I said “let me look that up for you.”

“Haven’t heard of that one, huh?” he quipped.

The book was On the Road, by Jack Kerouac.

Haven’t heard of that one? Oh, sir, not only have I heard of it, but I have read it and am currently resisting the urge to blurt out the plot line, main characters, and popular critical lenses surrounding the book since its release in the 1950s.

I’m an English major, from Santa Clara University, with an emphasis in American literature. I also am double majoring in Theatre Arts, with a minor in French. In addition, I am the associate editor of my university’s literary magazine. But you wouldn’t know that, would you, sir? You took one look at me and underestimated my ability to hold any knowledge that you might not.

I want to thank you for that. Because I took one look at you and your snide remarks and was instantly reminded of how beautiful it was to be underestimated. Thanks to you, I was reminded just how awesome I was, not only because I held the knowledge you disliked me for, but, more importantly, because I had the self-confidence to look you in the eye and say “I just want to make sure we have that in stock for you. Give me one moment.”

“Everyone said I couldn’t, which is why I did.” – Right Where I Should Be, Us the Duo

I was lucky enough to grow up believing I could do anything. I went to small, private schools. I was exposed, most often, to environments full of people that knew me well and consistently encouraged me.

I didn’t know how lucky I was.

I didn’t realize how unusual and amazing and kind it was for the people superior to me to look at the tiny, blonde female person I was and tell me I could do anything. I grew up believing in the power of my dreams.

But eventually, I graduated my small, all-girls, private high school. I got a real job. I moved away from home. I went to college.

I was shocked by the brazen audacity of the people around me. I had no idea that there were people in the world who would assume that I was incapable of intelligence, of strength, of leadership, simply because I was blonde, because I was young, because I was a girl.

But since then, I have learned to fight back.

At first, I thought I could prove them all wrong. I fought back with words, working to impart my knowledge and impress the people around me in any way I could. I fought hard to make a good impression.

But you can’t change other people, you can only change yourself. So, I learned to fight right.

Fighting right is fighting with your actions. It’s remaining confident in the face of adversity. It’s being polite to those people who underestimate you, only to turn around and become what they thought you could never be.

Fighting right wasn’t telling that man at work that he was wrong, that I was smart, that I had accomplished many things that he would never have know, that I had worked hard to get where I was.

Fighting right was biting my tongue and being confident in my own knowledge, despite his determination to tear me down.

People always say “Kill ’em with kindness.” And this is true. For sure, kill ’em with kindness.

But also kill ’em with strength and courage. Kill ’em with growth and power. Kill ’em with grace and intelligence. Gather up a well-educated, put-together fight, whatever that means to you. Whether that means lacing up your running shoes and getting your butt to the gym. Whether that means putting that criticism to good use and working to better yourself. Whether that means going to the library and reading up on that subject until you could give a speech on the subject in your sleep.

Being underestimated makes you better. Being underestimated motivates you to grow.

Because sometimes growth is failure.

Sometimes growth is rejection.

Sometimes growth is the power to say “no.”

Sometimes growth doesn’t feel like growth, until you turn around, look back and realize how far you’ve come. It is evident in the confidence that will inevitably result from your stinging growth.

And the next time someone underestimates you, you will have the confidence to bite your tongue. The next time someone underestimates you, it will only be an affirmation of who you are, because you will be self-assured enough to simply smile and shrug it off. You won’t need that person’s approval, because you know that you are so much more than that person has made you out to be. And if there is some thread of truth to what they are saying, you know that the next time they come around, there won’t be, because you will have fought so hard, through your actions, through your growth, to become a better version of yourself.

So thank those people that underestimate you, that assume the lowest of you. Bless them, and pray for them; without them, you would never be who you are.

“I thank you, one and all, the ones who thought I’d fall, who taught me how to fail, who helped me to prevail. I’m standing here today, cause you helped me find my way.” -Elle Woods, Legally Blonde the Musical 

8 Things I Learned In High School About Becoming the Person You’re Supposed to Be

Life isn’t easy. Everyone knows that. There are ups and there are downs. But everyone is always saying not to worry because everything will turn out the way it is supposed to. Until recently I didn’t really understand what that meant.

For a while, to me, that meant just going with the flow. I thought that God, or whatever you want to believe in, would push me down the right path, that there would be a light obviously shining down on what I was supposed to do and who I was supposed to be. While I still believe we end up where we are supposed to be, I have realized that light isn’t as obvious as I originally thought. It’s bright when you find it, but you have to look for it

Becoming the person you’re supposed to be and doing the things you’re meant to do is so not easy. Sometimes it’s easier just to say that everything will turn out the way it is supposed to and wait for that to happen. Sometimes it’s a lot easier to go along with the crowd. But I guarantee you that finding your place in the world is going to take time and effort. Sorry to say, but it takes a bit of work to be happy.

So, in honor of school starting back up, here are some things that I learned near the end of high school, that I wished I had learned sooner, about being happy with who I am and finding who I am meant to be:

  1. Don’t be afraid to tell the truth: As cheesy and cliche as this one might sound, the truth really will set you free. In order to be who you are meant to be, you have to learn that people can’t read your mind. If you feel something, tell someone. If you think something, tell someone. No one can help you feel better or accomplish something you want to do if they don’t even know what you’re feeling and thinking. And yes, while some of the people you’re closest to might be able to practically read your mind, there are still a lot of things worth saying, even if you don’t think they are. Don’t trick yourself into not saying something you’re afraid to say by convincing yourself it won’t make a difference. Don’t let guilt or shame or regret eat you up. Say what you want to say. It’s the only way to live with no regrets. Keeping secrets, big or small, will make you feel alone, because there is always something separating you from those you love.
  2. Don’t be afraid to get a little lost: There’s a quote that says “the best way to find yourself is to get a little lost.” Again, cliche, but true. Whether this means literally or figuratively, leaving your life, stepping out of your comfort zone, is the only way to learn about yourself. When I’m particularly confused or upset, I jump in my car and just drive. I’m not going to lie and say I come back healed with all the answers to my life’s questions. I wish. But I will say that when I allow myself to get lost, I at least come back clear headed and feeling a little bit happier. And if you’re lost figuratively, stumbling through your life with what feels like no direction, I promise that there is a purpose. I mean, where would we be if Christopher Columbus hadn’t been a little lost? He got lost and was disappointed to have not found India. The founder of the American Continent was worried he got lost, but ended up going down in history for what he thought was a mistake. So celebrate your stumbling, and don’t reach for the GPS right away. Sometimes when you land in what you think is the wrong place, you end up discovering a whole new world.
  3. Don’t be afraid to cry: When you do inevitably get lost, figuratively or literally, it’s okay to cry. It’s okay to cry a lot. It’s okay to sit in your bedroom or car, turn up the sad music, and let it all out. I will admit to having done it many times. I will also admit to disagreeing for a long period of time. I thought I had to not cry because people were watching and I didn’t want to disappoint them. I thought holding my tears and feelings in made me strong. But the people who loved me most, I discovered, wanted to share my smiles as well as my tears, and were actually more disappointed not to know when I was upset because they wanted the chance to be there for me. They didn’t pity me, they loved me. And in turn I learned not to pity those who cry. In fact, we should pity those who don’t cry, because those who cry are lucky enough to have something worth crying about. Crying is a sign of strength, not weakness, because anyone who has the strength to show their feelings in this world that tries to harden our hearts, has more courage than those who are too big of cowards to show their weaknesses. And when you cry and allow people to comfort you, you will find love and support and feel much less alone.
  4. Don’t be afraid to do things you think you don’t want to do: When your friends invite you out, go. Even if you’re tired or think it won’t be any fun. Even if you would rather stay in your bedroom and binge watch your new favorite TV show. I have been there, and that can be fun, but that little bit of happiness only lasts so long. That is happiness by living in another world, but you need to find happiness in your own world. Even if you go out and don’t have the best time, at least you have a new experience, a new memory, and you have learned something about what you don’t like to do. Everything is a learning experience, and even if you don’t know what makes you happiest, I guarantee you won’t find it staring out the window at the world you never allowed yourself to explore.
  5. Don’t be afraid to fail: This was a big one for me. I am quite the perfectionist. Often, when presented with new opportunities, I will make excuses and back out because of fear. One of my favorite musicians, Ben Rector, put this beautifully in his lyrics: “I’ve been scared to death of failing, scared that I’d look like a fool. And I’d rather quit than risk that I could lose. And I’m not proud of that position.” When I let fear of failure or looking like a fool run my life, I kept myself from so many wonderful people and experiences. There’s no way that you can find your place in this world if you don’t try new things. And in trying new things, you are going to mess up. But don’t be afraid of that! One day you will look back and be glad that you had the courage to make that first mistake.
  6. Don’t be afraid to stand alone: Being alone has such a negative connotation in this society, but it really isn’t a bad thing. In fact, in my opinion, taking time for yourself is one of the most important things you can do. And yes, I mean reading a book or drinking tea in your pajamas in the quiet of your home. But I also mean, don’t be afraid to stand alone against other people. Don’t be afraid to say that you don’t like something, just because it seems like everyone else disagrees. I guarantee you that there are people who feel the same way you do, but you will never find them if you don’t speak up. Yes, you might lose people you called friends because of your opinions, but the kind of people you want around are the ones that can respect your opinion whether or not they agree, not those who pressure you into following them. The most rewarding paradox lies in this idea: by having the courage to stand alone for what you believe is right, you will soon find yourself less alone than ever, because a lot of people will admire and support you for your ability to confidently stand alone.
  7. Don’t be afraid of silence: I used to hate silence when I was alone because I got lost in my mine and I got easily overwhelmed in thinking so many things. I also used to hate silence with other people because I thought it meant that we had nothing to talk about and didn’t get along. But I learned, over time, the true value of silence. The best people are the ones that will share silence with you. And it is only through listening to the thoughts that come to us in silence that we can really get to know ourselves and face our fears. And I have learned that sometimes the most beautiful things require a little bit of silence. Tears, hugs, kisses, trust, love. So many discoveries are made in the silence of our hearts.
  8. Don’t be afraid: “Be not afraid.” This quote appears 365 times in the Bible– A daily reminder to not let the Earth’s fears swallow you up. I let too many things go in high school because I was afraid of what people would think. I didn’t say things because I couldn’t predict the outcome, so I thought it was better to keep it wrapped up. But, let me tell you, I was so wrong. Because it is far better to momentarily look like a fool than to live with life-long regrets. So do and say what you want to do. And don’t be afraid of looking like a fool. Normal is overrated and life’s best people are fools. What fun would life be if we were all “normal.” Those who want to judge you for it?  Let them. I guarantee you they have looked like a fool at least once in their lives. Don’t be afraid, because “those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind.”

The Reality of Being Real

“Regret is much more powerful than momentary shame or fear.”

I’m an expressive person. I mean, I write a blog about what I think. But part of the reason I write this blog is because events in my life inspire my thinking and make me want to say certain things to certain people. But the problem is that in this era, honesty isn’t common. People would rather keep things under the surface than address a problem out of fear of being judged. In the last year, I made it my goal to be more honest with myself and others and just say how I feel because I figured that most of the time, even if it doesn’t make things better, it won’t make them worse.

But it wasn’t easy. I was judged. I was judged a lot. But what I found out was I was judged less by the people I was honest with, and judged mostly by those around me that didn’t have the maturity to have an important conversation, that couldn’t understand how people that weren’t getting along could actually overcome an obstacle.

Why did this happen? Because the reality is that we don’t know how to be real anymore. We don’t know how to be honest with others or even with ourselves. We give up on people when things get rough or awkward or difficult. When someone doesn’t know how to handle a person or situation, they don’t ask, but instead just disappear on you or talk about you instead of talking to you.

In this last year, I was called a lot of things. I was called selfish. I was called dramatic and overly-attached. Naive. Childish. My words were twisted. And the worst part? I was called all of these things behind my back because the people who judged me, the people who laughed at me for my honesty, didn’t even have the courage to speak honestly to me.

But the thing that I came to realize is, I am sure I was called those things even before I decided to speak my mind. We will always have critics. But more often than not the critics are just jealous that they cannot do what you do or have what you have. So I have learned to let the judgements go. I decided I would rather have critics of my honesty than people who judge me for the things I don’t say. Because when you leave things unsaid, people too often take it upon themselves to fill in the blanks.

This year, I almost lost my best friend because of a culture that teaches us to give up. She had the courage to be honest with me and admit that she hurt me. We didn’t talk for a month. But that time was enough for us to calm down, to realize we needed each other, and to realize that as much as the secrets hurt, they would only hurt more if we had to heal by ourselves.

So we talked and it was hard, but it was important. We learned that friendship goes two ways. We shared the pain of our broken friendship, hated it equally, and that was enough for us to decide it was time to be happy again. We found a way to move on.

And we have been honest with each other ever since. When we do something that upsets the other, we tell each other, even if it is difficult. These conversations almost always begin with “I know you might not want to hear this but we are being honest, so I wanted you to know.” They sometimes lead to hurt feelings, but they always end in some kind of apology, a solution, and a chance to make our friendship stronger.

Sometimes people don’t know how much they hurt you, or how much they mean to you, if you don’t tell them.

Forgiveness only comes from honesty. Because of the forgiveness, and the openness, our relationship is the most important in our lives. We have learned that a relationship is so much more valuable when you fight for it, when you stay and work it out, when you tell the truth. I honestly don’t know what I would do without her. But imagine if I had listened to society and just given up? I would have learned nothing and lost one of the most important people in my life.

And that’s what made me most upset in all this: throughout this experience, throughout this last year, I was told over and over again to give up on my friendship. I was told to let it go. I was told that she wasn’t worth it. I am somewhat ashamed to admit that at first, I agreed. But while there does come a time to move on and leave people and places behind, she was definitely worth a conversation. You don’t just feel things strongly towards someone, whether it be anger or love or maybe both, and then just give up and let it go. That provides no closure. I have learned in this past year that it is impossible to just give up on someone or something, without closure, without knowing for sure.

But that’s the problem with our culture. We give up. We “let go” without truly letting go. We give up before things have even started because we make assumptions instead of having a conversation. We don’t have relationships with significant others, but instead we have “things” with people, because we are too afraid to have conversations that define those relationships. We don’t go on dates, we just hang out, because a date assumes a commitment that we are too afraid to talk about. And when we get annoyed with people, or when we decide we are done with someone, we don’t talk about it. Often times people don’t even let you know they are done with you or how you upset them, but instead just disappear or become distant and hope you will figure it out yourself, because it’s less awkward or difficult for them. But what does that do? That just leaves you feeling as if you meant so little to them that you weren’t even worth an explanation.

But let me tell you something: you deserve an explanation. You deserve a conversation. You deserve truth and honesty and you deserve it right from the mouth of the other person involved, not behind your back in someone else’s gossip.

But in order to receive honesty, you have to be honest.

So this year, when everyone told me to give up, I didn’t. I went back to my friend, and to this day some people still don’t understand why. Some people still try to tear us apart, asking me how I can be friends with someone who hurt me. But these people just don’t understand. These people don’t fight for things. These people see us say things to each other like “why did you say that? That was rude,” and they say “I can’t believe she called you rude. That was mean.” But these people don’t stick around long enough to hear the other one of us say, “I’m sorry. I’ll be more careful what I say next time.”

See, most people my age don’t know how to have, or even start, a valuable conversation. We are used to instant gratification. We are spoiled with lightning fast internet speeds, fast food, and even movies and books that preach consistent happy endings where people just realize their feelings or their faults and turn around and apologize. These things cause us to postpone our feelings, our discussions, our relationships. We say, “It wasn’t the right time.” I know because I was the queen of that. I was, and still am on occasion, the queen of excuses.

But life isn’t a movie and relationships don’t perfect themselves with the speed and precision of our computers. We hide behind our phones. We hide behind other people and reasons. We even hide behind a facade of being nice, of not telling the truth because it will hurt someone or skmetnjnf and it’s better if they find out later.

But we have to stop being so selfish. There is never a good time to keep secrets and if you really care about someone, tell them the truth, because the longer you wait, the more difficult it will be.

I want to know. If someone has a problem with me, I want to know. If I annoyed you, tell me. It’s the only way it gets fixed. And on the other hand, if I made you smile, tell me. If I did something you liked, let me know. That’s how you get along. That’s how you communicate and create lasting relationships and friendships. And that’s a lesson that our world greatly needs to learn.

So what is the reality of being real? It’s very, very hard. Being the person that doesn’t give up in a culture where giving up is the norm is very discouraging. And sometimes it feels easier to give up. But we shouldn’t, because honesty is the best way to live without regrets. I have often heard it said that the things we will most regret when we look back on our lives are the things we didn’t do, not the things we did. I couldn’t agree more. The people you are honest with will appreciated it, if not at first, then later down the line. You won’t always get what you want out of honesty. You won’t always get an apology, you won’t always get the boy or the girl, and you most definitely won’t change people. People only change when they want to change. But no matter what, you won’t spend your life wondering, “what if?”

Regret is much more powerful than momentary shame or fear.

So tell that boy that he hurt you and don’t let him tell you otherwise. You are worth a conversation.

Tell that girl how you feel. Chances are she feels the same way. If she does, make a commitment, and take her on a real date.

Tell the people you love that you love them while you have the chance, even if they can’t say it back, even if they judge you for it. Those who judge you for it are only judging you because you chose to live differently than they do, because you chose to live with a level of confidence and maturity that they don’t yet have.

And most importantly, respect those who have the courage to be real with you, even if it’s not what you want to hear.

Make being real a reality.

“If somebody likes me, I want them to like the real me, not what they think I am. And I don’t want them to carry it around inside. I want them to show me, so I can feel it, too. I want them to be able to do whatever they want around me. And if they do something I don’t like, I’ll tell them…I’m not going to let that happen again with anyone else. I’m going to do what I want to do. I’m going to be who I really am. And I’m going to figure out what that is. But right now, I’m here with you. And I want to know where you are, what you need, and what you want to do.” – Peter Chbosky, The Perks of Being a Wallflower

 

 

A lesson about caring…

“And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance, I hope you dance.”

There was a boy who said he cared. There were lots of boys who said they cared about lots of girls. There are lots of people who say they care about lots of other people. But what does that mean exactly? Because sometimes people who say they care the most don’t make you feel better when you need them to.

I have learned a lesson about caring lately. People think that asking if someone is ok when they’re upset is caring. And that’s a great way to show you care! But it’s not the most important, and sometimes that’s just not what we need. And a lot of the time we don’t even mean it when we are the ones asking.

Actions speak louder than words.

We have all hit rock bottom at some point in our lives. We can all remember a time when we just didn’t know how we would possibly go on. I remember in hard times thinking all I wanted was for someone to care, for someone to understand.

But when someone told me they cared and they understood, it didn’t make me feel better. I just would get frustrated because I thought no one could possibly understand exactly what I was feeling and thinking. And I already knew people cared about me, but that didn’t change how I thought and felt right then.

That is when I realized I didn’t need someone to wallow and whine with me, I didn’t need someone to agree with me. I needed someone to pull me up, someone who would take my hand and make me do the things I didn’t want to do, because sometimes the things you least want to do are the only things that can make it better.

That’s what real caring is. It’s not just being there for someone else, it’s living for someone else. There’s a big difference between living and being there.

Being there means showing up at their house with ice cream on a bad day. It means holding their hand or hugging them while they cry.

But the truest kind of love, real caring, is putting someone before yourself. Really caring means showing up with ice cream on that bad day without even having to know what made it so bad. Really caring means being the shoulder to cry on even when you don’t know why they are crying. Really caring means encouraging others to do what makes them happy, even if it doesn’t involve you.

I had a friend who cried at prom. The music was perfect, she had no boys to worry about, and she looked gorgeous, but something else was wrong. So I hugged her while she cried and then asked what was wrong. She said “I can’t talk about it tonight.” I said “are you sure?” At first I didn’t understand why she wouldn’t tell me. But then I realized it wasn’t about me, so I said “ok. Let’s dance.” She didn’t want to at all and insisted on staying in her chair and thinking. But after a little while I walked back over to her and said “get out of your head. Stop thinking. Live here in this moment. There is something good in every day. This is our good thing.” Soon enough I was able to pull her onto the dance floor.

Really caring is not giving up. And that doesn’t mean insisting that someone tell you why they are upset even when they say they don’t want to talk about it. It’s not forcing someone to share their darkest secrets. Not giving up means when they chose to sit it out, you make them dance.

So think before you say “I did it because I care.” There’s a difference between caring and personal satisfaction. Don’t do something “because you care” just to make yourself feel better.

I think a lot of the time we take pride in being other people’s confidants. When people relate to us and share a secret or a wish, we feel needed. And the same thing goes for problems. When someone tells you why they are upset, you feel special and proud that someone trusts you.

But we need to learn to listen with the intent to understand, not to respond.

Real caring is not about you. Real caring is selfless. Caring is a choice. And when a person does trust you with a problem, they trust you to help them make it better. And if you are lucky enough to have someone who cares about you like this, no questions asked, If you have someone that will pull you up of the floor and out of your funk, take them up on it.  Get up and get out of your head and find one good thing in every day. Because you’re the only one who can open yourself up to change.

Real caring isn’t just understanding someone’s problem but helping them to change it, whether it’s for yourself or someone else.

So the lesson I have learned about caring? When life knocks you on the floor, the real friends don’t just sit down with you and mope. The people who really care are the ones who not only pull you up and show you how to stand, but, better yet, the ones who remind you how to dance. Because even though it’s nice to have someone who understands, it’s even better to have someone that doesn’t have to.

Apparently there’s a problem with smart choices…

“I’m proud to announce that I will be attending community college in the fall.”
“Really? You’re way too smart for that.”

“Don’t waste your time on that.”

Yes, that is a conversation I have had multiple times. This is the culture we are raised in and this generation seems to think that the only way you are successful is by leaving home right at 18, traveling halfway across the country, and going to a full 4 year university. And there is nothing wrong with that at all! If that’s right for you, good for you! I mean it sounded pretty great to me too.

But then I didn’t get the money I needed to make that four year college affordable. I was going to spend my last summer at home working my butt off just to help my parents cover the crazy tuition. And for what? To go to a school I would graduate from with a cumulative debt of $60,000-80,000 to pay off fresh out of college? And really that is understandable for some people if that’s really where you feel you need to be. But for me, that didn’t seem like the way I wanted to start my life.

My parents mentioned staying home for a year and getting my GE done at a college nearby but I was hesitant because at school, community college was kind of a joke. Many students teased about it and thought of it as the suggestion that counselors made when your transcript wasn’t up to par for the schools you actually wanted to apply to. And everyone was going away and I didn’t want to be left behind. But let me rephrase my question: Should I go off to a school I would graduate from with $60,000-80,000 of student loans to pay off fresh out of college, just because I felt pressure from my school and peers?

And let me say something, not to brag but to make my point. I had above a 4.0 GPA, I was in the top ten percent of my class, was a runner up for valedictorian, and got into the schools of my choice. But that doesn’t mean that I wanted to launch myself straight into more hard-core academics at such a high cost, both monetarily and emotionally.

We have to stop telling our students that leaving is the only option. Stop putting everyone in the same category. The college system has become more and more competitive. It’s all about who can get in where. Acceptance letters are posted at schools and all over Facebook. And it’s great to be proud of your accomplishments! I love to celebrate my friends’ successes with them. But to me college is a personal achievement.

And personally, being able to do everything I want to do instead of forcing myself straight into the most academic, competitive program in the country after working my butt off for four years, is more of an accomplishment than anything else. And I shouldn’t feel shame for that. I shouldn’t feel the need to have to explain to my friends and family why a “gifted student” like me isn’t leaving for school right away.

Our culture is so hypocritical. We are supposed to be the educated, accepting generation that is open to change and progress, yet we continue to fall into certain pressures of society. Want to be accepting? Stop using acceptance to excuse and allow stupid behavior and try to instead respect intelligent decisions, even if they differ from popular culture. I want to be a well-rounded, happy person. I want to be successful in my eyes, not just the eyes of others. We all deserve that. And that is why we have to stop telling people that one type of education is better than the other. Someone once told me that comparing colleges was like comparing artists. How can you compare the Beatles to Mozart? Both extremely talented and successful, but different. Different doesn’t mean unequal.

So my mom had a friend who worked at the local community college and I agreed to go check it out. The counselor there told me that with my AP credits, I would only need about 3 semesters to finish my GE. So with a year there and a few summer classes, I could transfer to the private four-year university of my choice as a junior, when I’m really only of sophomore age, saving me about $65,000 and getting me out of college a year earlier. Still think I’m “too smart” for community college?

Also, with some of the money I save, I can take dance classes, travel to visit friends, and, for a refreshing change, have time to do the things I want to do, not just things I have to do: get a job I love, read a book, play piano, write a story. Not to mention the fact that I get to stay home with my family and friends another year, which in this teenage culture is also somewhat frowned upon. But it’s a plus in my mind.

And the best part of all–Want to know what my diploma will say when I graduate? The name of my four-year university, just like anyone else. Except mine will cost a lot less in both money and stress.

So, I am proud to announce that I will be attending community college in the fall. No, my attendance doesn’t mean I’m not smart. I got into multiple well-known, four-year universities of my choice. My decision to stay at home another year doesn’t mean I’m immature. It mean I am mature enough to make decisions for my future, not just for the instantaneous excitement. It means I’m happy, I love my hometown, and I have good memories here. It means that I want to save money and start my life in less debt. And I’m not going to miss out on the “college experience.” I’m going to have a great one, and just because it’s different from someone else’s doesn’t mean it’s inferior.

So I’m not “too smart “for my choice. I’m smart BECAUSE of my choice.

Want to know what happens? Check in with me in 10 years. I plan on being be a successful, well-rounded, happy individual.

*Update, for anyone who was wondering (12/1/16): I am on track to transfer to the university of my choice in the Fall of 2017 with my GE completed. I have also played the lead in two musical theater productions, traveled to San Diego, Portland, and Nashville to visit friends, and I have a job at the book store of my choice, making money and building a perfect resume for an English Major. I wouldn’t have traded my choice for anything.