3.18.2014

Why I Didn't Attend College And My Thoughts On It Now

high school graduation

The other day I received an email that went something like this: "So from my point of view, you seem like a pretty successful and happy person, but you haven't gone to college! I searched through your archives a bit, but didn't find much about your college/career choices... Maybe I'm missing them, but they didn't pop out. What made you decide to not go to college? Are you happy with your decision? What's your part-time job now?" The email went on to say she is an 18 year old girl who is currently taking a "gap year" before deciding what she wants to do. After reading her questions it dawned on me that I haven't actually written a post specific to this subject so I figured no better time than now. 

My story goes something like this...

It all starts with Shawn. We started dating when I was 15 and he was 17. 

check out the bling in Shawn's ears 

About a year or so into the relationship, I was looking through a local homes magazine and the thought of becoming a real estate agent washed over my brain. I had always been intrigued with looking at homes and knew that I could certainly enjoy the flexibility and potential it allowed. I told Shawn at the time how I was considering real estate as a real life career for when I turned 18. Shawn also expressed interest in this career choice because much like myself, he hadn't given a whole lot of thought to college at this time. For whatever reason, college never really intrigued me. I didn't feel a strong urge to go, mostly due to the fact that I figured I would have to stay in a dirty tiny dorm room and the thought sounded absolutely miserable (pathetic but true). I didn't like the thought of having to delay getting my career started. I wanted to be out living in the real world, making money, getting married, buying my own home to live in, etc. To be honest, I don't even remember having in- depth conversations with my parents on whether or not I wanted to go to college. Not because they didn't care, but because they always did an amazing job of allowing my sister and I to be our own individuals and believed in what our decisions were. I believe I made the decision in the back of my head at a pretty early age that college wasn't for me. I never went on one college visit, I didn't take the SATs, I had other plans for myself. 

The summer going into my senior year of high school, Shawn and I attended a real estate class which led to getting our real estate licenses. We quickly got a job working for a local Century 21 real estate office and hit the ground running. I spent my mornings at high school and my afternoons selling homes. Looking back it all seems a little crazy to me. Why humans allowed an 18 year old girl who was a senior in high school to list their home is beyond me. But I was driven, I had a passion for what I was doing, and I figured out a way to make it work. Being in High School turned out to be a great thing for my business as I started working with several teachers in their home buying process. I certainly led a different life than most of my peers that last year of high school--instead of attending homecoming I was showing houses on Friday nights. I had business cards in my wallet, real paychecks coming in which went towards buying crazy expensive dogs, and instead of spending time on Facebook I was creating postcards to mail to new prospects. 

that would be the expensive dog...that I later traded with my parents for furniture 

My friends all went off to college that following Summer and never ever did I have one tiny regret that I wasn't going with them. I was happy doing what I felt like was best for me at that time. 

the summer before everybody left

Shawn and I got married two years later when I was 20, we purchased our first home, and we were focused on making our careers work for us. While I wasn't out making a ton of new friends and experiencing what college had to offer, I was truly having the time of my life. I was too busy creating what I wanted my reality to look like that I never felt like I was missing out on what others were doing. 

For me, I knew that I didn't desire a career that required a college degree so it didn't make sense for me to go. A few years after selling real estate and getting married, I decided to do something different only because Shawn and I were both commission only, had no health insurance, and no retirement. At that point I got a job at a local bank which has brought me to where I am at now, working part-time at a credit union training new employees as they get hired and blogging the other part of my day. I love every bit of it. Shawn has also since transitioned out of real estate into another professional job that I personally think he is incredible at (awww). Truly his work ethic puts mine to shame. 

Would I do it all over the same way again? 100% yes. I don't know if obtaining a college degree will ever appeal to me, but right now I can't see it in my future. Another perk? Because neither one of us went to college, neither one of us had any college debt. Do you know much of a difference that has made for us? We are not wealthy people but because of this fact alone we were able to do other things with our money like purchase rental properties as opposed to paying off student loans. Personally for us, not going to college was one of the best things that happened to us. 

I will say this time and time again---it's not what you know but who you know. A lot of people dislike this statement but I have seen it come true in my life and so many others time and time again. Along with that, real life experience in my personal opinion is greater than than a piece of paper with a degree on it. Do I think college is beneficial and necessary for a lot of people? Absolutely. Do I think it was for me? No. Fortunately, I have never been restricted doing what I want to do by not having a college degree. Now if blogging every requires a four year degree I'm screwed ;) 

Ultimately I don't think you find your happiness in whether or not you spend 4 years of your life furthering your education or getting a hands up in the work field, but rather your attitude you had and continue to have in all situations you find yourself in. 

To the 18 year old girl who wrote me this email, keep in mind these three things: work hard, believe in yourself, and love people well. You will be just fine, college degree or not. The best is yet to come. 

notice it doesn't say anything about being educated ;) 


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93 comments:

  1. I had no idea you were in real estate first - but I agree that you gotta be happy, rather than just be in debt. You gotta find what works for y-o-u: )

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  2. The debt associated with my college education is pretty depressing. Luckily my fiancé is getting paid to go through the GI Bill, but still, it is a lot of money for not a lot of respect in the working world. Experience can make up for not having a degree. Having a degree is rarely a good substitute for experience.

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  3. This is perfect. I went to college, and am kind of at a point now ($50k of student loan debt later, with a job I like, that I could have gotten with or without my degree) I am regretting having gone. Just because I can't further use my degree with out going back to school (Thus getting myself MORE in debt) and I don't need it for what I'm doing now. BUT I do think the best thing is doing something you love.

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  4. I love this post because I don't have a degree either and I get asked all the time why not and if I'll ever go back and get one. It just isn't in the cards for me and I'm ok with that. I have a great job and have definitely learned to work hard to get where I want to go.

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  5. This is a great post. I went to college for one thing and now do something totally different that didn't require a degree at all. I wish high schools spent more time helping students investigate careers as opposed to trying to put everyone on the same conveyor belt. I loved my four years away at school and luckily my debt isn't as bad as most people's. Still, actually planning for life and not just for college would have been very helpful in school.

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  6. I just love your honest answer to this girl. :)

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  7. Wow this is such an interesting story! I worked two jobs all through college and stayed close to home so my experience was different than the typical college experience as well. Being debt free and able to travel at 22 was totally worth it.

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  8. This is a great post. For some professions (like mine) a college degree is a must. But for a lot of people, a college degree isn't required. College isn't for everyone and I think our society puts a little too much emphasis on EVERYONE going to college. It's honestly devalueing diplomas and it is (like you mentioned) a waste of time and money. Good job for having your sights on the "end goal" and what awesome parents for letting you and your sister decide your own futures!

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  9. Love this! I went to college for a little while but, haven't finished. I've always wanted to finish because the thought of telling my kids someday that I started something & didn't finish kills me. However, for what time I was in college and didn't obtain a degree, 7 years later I'm down to my final student loan. It's pretty terrible paying on something each month that I can't even use & literally got nothing out of. Good for you & Shawn for not following along with everyone else & sticking to what you felt was right for each of you in your heart!!

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  10. For me, going to college wasn't so much about the education. Sure, the degree I got helped me figure out what I want to do and allowed me to get hired into jobs I have loved, but I can't imagine my life without the people or experiences I had while I was in school. I loved the time away, learning to be on my own and I don't know that I would have known where to begin if it had been left up to me to come up with a career path at 18. It's really impressive that you identified at such a young age that college wasn't your way and knew how to get what you wanted!

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  11. thanks for sharing your story. I think it is awesome for high school students to know what their options are before making the choices. I work at high schools part time and have seen many students not knowing what their strengths are. Some of them have parents who are very successful in their careers and think life is just a breeze.

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  12. I don't have a college degree, but am doing something that I am happy doing, the same for my husband. It "burns my biscuits" when someone says that a college degree is required to be successful...um, not true darling, not true! My entire family is living proof that you do not need a degree to be successful. :)

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  13. I was the complete opposite. I love school and wanted to go back asap and learn as much as I could. I went to a great college, and then I went to grad school and got my MBA. BUT, do you know what that did for me???? Not much....I have a great job, but I got it because I already had experience in the field, not necessarily because of education. And I've learned that photography is my real passion....and that expensive education didn't help contribute to that either. Sometimes a great education is necessary for the job you want, and sometimes its just a good extra something you can write on a sheet of paper.

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  14. I absolutely do not think college is for everyone. I only went to college kicking and screaming because my parents made me go, because I had a full-ride scholarship and they said I couldn't waste it. And I am very glad I went. Unfortunately, plenty of careers, especially those in the lifestyle I want to lead, won't look at you unless you have that piece of paper. My Mom has seen that first hand--she holds the position as national director of an international company but has no post-high school education and has experienced a lot of backlash and a lot of experience with the people she is supposed to manage refusing to be managed because they have PhDs and she has a high school diploma. It's ridiculous in some cases, but I'm glad my parents forced me to go to college. I'm glad my husband went to college, too. Of course, he's an ICU nurse and ya kinda need specialized education for that sort of thing. :)

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    1. Wow, sorry that your mom is going through that Rachel, my mom is going through something similar. She works with Doctors and only has her high school diploma...you can see where this is going...Basically she's been at her job for 6+ years and has no way of getting promoted without a degree. Which I think is a sad reality that a lot of people are being faced with these days.

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  15. I love reading about how other people got where they are today - and #1 that you have no regrets. It takes a special, determined person to hit the ground running fresh out of high school. Kudos to you for taking it all on and with flying colors!!! I might have to email you with some real estate questions ;) I'm currently thinking about shopping for my first home... yes you read that right... 30 something getting her FIRST home... sheesh talk about slow progress ;)

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  16. I love this post. What you're saying makes so much sense- everyone has their own paths. As an educator myself, I fully support college. But if it's not for you, don't go. Ya gotta do what's right for you. I love that you're sharing this message!

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  17. Thanks for sharing you story! So many kids are pushed into college when it doesn't have to be "their thing." I enjoyed every moment of my college life, but in hindsight...I wish I had invested $7,000 on camera equipment and started my photography career at 18, instead of spending $60,000+ on the marketing degree that hangs on my wall and at age 23 constantly having inner battles of whether or not my future career paths will "use my degree" enough.

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  18. I went to college after high school because that's what you are "supposed" to do. I had a full ride too. Honestly, even then I had no plans of using it. I was just going because it was essentially free and for a piece of paper. I planned on moving to Los Angeles to get into acting. As ridiculous as that sounds, it was what I wanted. After doing acting for about two years, my interests changed and I no longer wanted to move and pursue it. I was lucky enough to get two bachelor's degrees in four years (Psychology and Communication).

    I moved to another city about four to five months after graduation. I began working jobs that didn't require a college degree. Where I live, it is one of the most educated cities in America. Everyone has a college degree or above. I worked in non-related fields for about 1.5 years and then I went to grad school. I went to escape the "crap jobs" I was working and because I was genuinely interested in the field. While in grad school, I began working in the "field." I HATED it. By that time, I was already going to just finish out my degree because I wasn't going to pay for something that I quit. People were already judging me (while in school), because I already had made it clear that I had no desire to use it whatsoever.

    If you wanted to make a career out of my graduate degree, you would have to go on and get a PhD or do 2-3 years of supervision to obtain your license. I had absolutely no interest in doing either. I regret going because of the degree that I'm not going to use. I even more regret taking out the full amount, instead of just the amount to cover tuition (which was pretty cheap).

    Now, I have my own business and that is something that I couldn't be more happier with. My only regret is that I hadn't started sooner.

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  19. Thanks for sharing your story, and I totally agree that college isn't for everyone. I did get my Bachelor's degree, but I went to a local business college, where I didn't have to take all the "BS" classes like gym, art, etc. I was able to live at home, so that saved me money, and tuition wasn't as expensive as a lot of big universities. I just wanted to get my degree and get a job, and I only waned to take classes that pertained to what I wanted to do, so it was perfect for me. And you are so right, that it is about who you know...makes a world of difference!

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  20. I love this story! Sounds A LOT like mine. I headed into mortgage prior to graduating then transitioned into real estate 4 years ago. I'm still in Real Estate, and people looks at me like I'm crazy when I say I "dropped out" of college. But hey, I found a niche I liked without it.

    Bonus: NO debt, aka student loans :)

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  21. I loved this, Erin! I have always known I wanted to be a writer, and went to college because it was highly encouraged in my family. I never had a specific career in mind (aside from writing, which usually doesn't pay bills right up front), but loved learning, and loved school. So, college was right for me. Eric on the other hand, was more like you. I kind of love that he didn't care about college one bit (and he is not a stupid person either, as you are not ;)). I think the kind of person who doesn't want to go to college because they have other things up there sleeve, is brave and usually more interesting than the average collegiate. You clearly made the right decision for you, and that is awesome.

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  22. Thank you for this! I never wanted to go to college either. Had zero interest and NO idea what I wanted to do. Why waste the time and money with no direction? It definitely isn't for everyone and I always knew it wasn't for me.

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  23. college is not for everyone, just like marriage is not for everyone & neither are kids. it all works perfectly fine if we allow everyone to enjoy their lives just as they please. i think if you are happy with your life Mrs. Yellow - you are right where you are meant to be. rock it girl!! i love how you cap & gown were YELLOW, did you go to that school there just because their colors were yellow?? or was that more gold? anywho??! cute. ( :

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  24. I really enjoyed reading more into your background. It's very unique and I like it! I do my college degree and I'm extremely grateful for it, although I would agree... it's not for everyone. I did choose to do 2 years of community college, which was one of my better decisions because even though I do have some college loan debt, it's nothing compared to what some people I know have. In fact, I expect to pay it off in the next year. College was a great experience for me and it's where I met my boyfriend of 6 years, so I'm grateful for that! My favorite part about hearing your story on this and hearing so many others stories as well is that they're all so different and they continue to solidify the fact that we can all do what we want to do, how we want to do it, and we all have the capacity to find true happiness and joy in the decisions we made. Thanks for sharing some more of your background Erin!

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  25. Although I do have 2 degrees, I agree that college isn't for everyone. I think it is so important to let high school students explore what is available out there without just throwing college down their throat. Working hard is what is most important. FYI-I think it is super cute that you and Shawn have been together for so long.

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  26. You are so right, post secondary education is NOT one size fits all! Also, Shawn totally looks like a Backstreet Boy in that white t-shirt and glasses!

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  27. I wish I would have read this when I was in high school or in college even. My parents and my high school really made me feel as if there was no other choice then to go to college and grad school in order to have a career and now I have a professional degree, student loans, and no job because the job market for people with my degree has tanked. I really liked getting my degree (it was the first time school wasn't boring) but what point was there to spending all that money if I could find something else I loved to do? I just didn't know what else I could do because my parents so narrowed my focus and we only had a college counseling department at my high school, not a a career counseling department. So thank you so much for sharing and I'll be passing this info along to my future children so that they have more information available when they make their career/education choices!

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  28. Like many others...I love this. I didn't go to college right after school, despite it feeling like the uncool thing to do. Later in my life, I decided to go for something...just because I felt I had to. I stopped. 2 years later, I tried again, transferring credits to a new school. I loved the school and some of the classes, but it still didn't feel right. Now, I'm paying our mortgage for something I didn't at all go to school for -- Scentsy! ;) So, yeah...college not necessary.

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  29. I think no matter what you do college or no college as long as you work hard and try it makes all the difference. for people with all the education and no work ethic I wonder how they live. JK I know some who live with their parents still! I love your story by the way and respect your hard work to get where you are.

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  30. This was very inspiring! Thanks for going above and beyond to answer my question.

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  31. Wow, cool cool story! I had no idea you didn't go to college, but congrats to you and your hubby on your success!

    I went to college and went to grad school, currently love my job, but would LOVE to just blog FT and stay at home with the pets. We will see how I end up doing with it!

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  32. Love this. Me and my husband were married at 19 and are 25 now. We have 3 great kids and bought and sold our first 2 homes and our on our 3rd. Not having the debt of school has made it all possible!

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  33. I think this is a great post, and thanks for sharing. I was a high school for teacher for 6 years and I think we do a BIG disservice to our students when we hammer it into their heads that college is the only way to go! Especially because I know SO MANY people who got a degree in something at 22 and then when back to school for something else -- b/c who really knows what they want to do at 18. Kids just go because that's what they're "supposed" to do. I think we should put more of an emphasis on technical schools as well because we need electricians, plumbers, mechanics, etc. and yet for some reason those professions are seemingly frowned down upon as opposed to a 4-year degree. Who knows why. I went to community college my senior year of HS (so it was free), then stayed for my second year (they paid for me b/c my grades were good) then transferred to FSU (with a full scholarship) and graduated when I was 20. I made money off of going to college and for me, it was the right choice. But, especially being a teacher I saw firsthand that it's not for everyone and it can really bring down kids' confidence in themselves if they are not doing the "norm".

    I did also recently see that one school was going to offer scholarships for kids who took a year off between high school and college to have a "gap year" experience doing something like traveling/volunteering....sign me up for that!

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  34. I LOVE THIS. I went to college because originally, what I wanted to do required a degree. Now... well I'm a SAHM with a degree in History, so basically I know how to research and write stuff, but that's it. I'm actually working toward becoming a midwife at some point, and that doesn't require a degree.

    Anyway, long story short: College isn't for everyone. I've seen way too many people go to college for no reason and then be disappointed and have tons of debt. I hope to raise our kids to believe that there is more than college out there for them.

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  35. I don't know why, but I honestly had no idea that you hadn't done a four year degree. I'm on the opposite end of the spectrum, but I knew where I wanted to be, so school was not an option, it was a requirement. I'm glad that you shared your story. It shows that everyone's life is different and we all have to live our lives in a way that works for us.

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  36. My favorite post yet. For real.

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  37. I'll try to be brief: I love all your posts, and I've always thought - example: after your "anonymous comments" viral post's response the next day - that you were one of the most intelligent-sounding blog writers I'd ever come across.

    That said, I am rather disappointed by your note that "real life experience in my personal opinion is greater than than a piece of paper with a degree on it." Well, obviously, if a degree was nothing more than a piece of paper, ANYONE would agree with you! However, so much more is gained by a college degree - I value ALL (even the classes and experiences I didn't like) I learned from my professors in undergrad and graduate school, and I am pretty proud to know a great deal of scholarly, intellectual wealth and discipline that I wouldn't have gotten anywhere else. Even if I locked myself in a library for six years.

    I am sure you know that a degree is more than a piece of paper and you were just being colloquial, but I felt like that needed to be said. Thanks for writing this. I too had wondered about your life path as well, and I do agree that formal education outside of high school not for everyone. I'm happy you've had such success no matter what - you are a prime example that intelligence is not indicated by formal education!

    Now let me check this for typos and grammar errors so I don't sound like a hypocritical idiot. ;)

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    1. I tend to agree. I think there's some danger in telling someone that under all circumstances, they can achieve what they want with hard work and a degree isn't necessary. Those stories of people who climb corporate ladders without a college degree are great- truly, and they're shining examples of hard work, dedication, and on-the-job education (which is invaluable) that propelled them to success. However, that's the exception, not the rule. This seems overly obvious to state but there are a lot of fields that won't even LOOK at someone without a college degree/training program/special certificate; or that will impose a cap on how high you can climb without that degree. Heck, there are fields that will impose a cap on someone WITH a college degree until they go get their MBA (I have several friends doing this right now).

      The other aspect that nobody has really taken into consideration is, at 18- the push to go to college in some areas is to keep kids off the streets. 18 year olds are still children (hell I feel like a child still at 27); and in lower class areas, there's still a very real threat of getting involved in gangs, drugs, etc. Keeping kids active, keeping them in school -despite the debt- is the best alternative.

      I think it's great you were so motivated at 17 or 18 to start your career straight out of high school. The bottom line is though that a majority of kids are not. They have no idea what they want to do. It certainly sucks that it costs so much money to "buy themselves" another 4/5 years to figure it out, but that's better in some cases than having them loaf around unproductively. It's not time or money wasted. Those are years of invaluable experiences, friendships and learning that take place. Not to say people who didn't go missed out on something, as you certainly don't feel like you did, but I feel like this slightly discredits those who DID gain something from college. I definitely do think there should be a bigger push to at least encourage kids to think of SOME potential careers of interest, so that they have slightly more direction in choosing a next step. Whether that's 2 years of community college or 4 years of university, or jumping right in.

      I was very fortunate that I've known what I wanted to do since I was in 4th grade- I went straight from undergrad to law school, and although it took me a year to find a job as an associate, I was fortunate to have a job while I looked, and I enjoy what I do (85% of the time).

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    2. I agree! I actually work as a college recruiter, so saying I believe in higher education is an understatement. HOWEVER, I also agree that college isn't for everyone. College doesn't dictate intelligence. Plenty of people choose to forego the college experience and they find jobs they love and live rich, and happy lives.

      That being said, tons of positions do require that 4 year degree, and many higher level positions require a masters+. I'm actually finishing up my masters in HR right now (the perks of working for a school!), and I can't even tell you how many adult students are in my classes because it's necessary for the promotion they want. But like Erin said, putting your time in is also not only valuable- but necessary- for most positions as well. You can't expect to grab a degree and then nab a 6-figure job.

      It's about making the decision that best fits you and your goals.

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  38. What an amazing post! I knew you didn't go to college from your about page but this is inspiring, thank you for sharing!

    xx Kelly
    Sparkles and Shoes

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  39. I have to agree. You need to be happy with what you are doing otherwise there is no point. This was a fantastic post - thanks for sharing!

    Sophie xxx

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  40. Even though I have a master's degree and eventually want my doctorate, I agree that college is not for everyone. My mom worked at a college, so I grew up around that atmosphere and always wanted to go, and then got a full ride, so there was no reason not to. Getting my master's was really the only thing that brought on debt, but it was so worth it. And being a college graduate is so much more than just a piece of paper.

    I admire your work ethic and am happy for your success, but that's also not a one size fits all place. As long as a person is happy with their decision and they work hard, I'm sure success comes. And we're certainly in a "need to know people" society, so having a lot of great references, whether their professors or supervisors, is always an added perk.

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  41. In no way was I mature enough to be a part of the "real world" at 17. College for me was an amazing experience and it gave me the time I needed to grow. I wouldn't trade it for anything, student loan debt and all :). We are all so different, thank god we have options! Thanks for sharing your story Erin.

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  42. I have a$100,000 bachelors degree that hasn't been necessary for any of my career choices. I don't regret going to college, I do regret choosing to go to a private college. I'm fortunate I worked my ass off as a door to door salesperson and was actually able to graduate debt free...but all that to say, college definitely isn't for everyone. My husband has his masters degree, a ton of school debt, and ironically he's now in real estate. I think at 18 most of us are clueless and taking a "gap" year is a fabulous idea to experience real life and decide what direction you want to go. But then there are people like you who have their head screwed on straight and know exactly where they want to go. I say kudos to you!

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  43. Not having my college degree doesn't seem so bad now... I see a lot (read: all) bloggers talking about their college days and while I went to college, I just never finished and sometimes I want to but I seem to be doing just fine without it :)

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  44. Thank you for posting this! It's so refreshing to see a different path, kind of similar to mine. Although I respect higher education & would love to go back to college someday, I disagree with the whole "college is for everyone" mentality that so many people have.

    I tried going to college. I had a bad experience where my financial aid was messed up because of it. The school was forced to withdraw me before I could finish my degree (which sucked because I was actually getting excellent grades!) I was stuck with a $10,000 student loan, no degree, and no way to get back to college in the near future.

    After that experience I got a job, met my fiance, moved out, and started planning our wedding.

    College is great, and I do hope to go back someday. I just wished someone would have warned me about all the disadvantages. Because my high school pushed me to go to college, I went. Little did I know that was a bad decision for me at the time. Now I will have my student loan hanging over my head for 10+ years, and I will have nothing to show for it. My advice is that if you want to go to college- great! but make sure it is the best decision for you at that time.

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  45. So this is the first post I have ever read of yours, and I'm impressed. I did go to college, however took an un-traditional route. I really appreciate everything that you said here. There are so many other options out there it's important that young people take the time to really look at them all.

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  46. Ah, this post is beyond perfect because I feel like I'm on the same journey. I never had the desire to go to college. My husband & I got married when we were 20 & now we are doing well helping my mother run our family business. Everyone always asks if I went to college or if I ever want to go. Negative! And I love not having school loans to pay off ;)

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  47. I think that college isn't for everyone, and for some professions, it could mean a delay. The other issue is the expense. But for many, college is both a great transition period and a necessary step toward a career. I hope each individual seriously considers the options and seek advice from wise people they know care about them.

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  48. Shoot, now I wish I hadn't gone to college. ;)

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  49. I never went to college, well actually I did but I got out before I ended the first semester. I knew College wasn't for me. And although I work as an Administrative Assistant thank God I have never been rejected for not having a degree. I never saw myself completing an Associates or Bachelors Degree. Loved your story!

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  50. I love this! I think too many people have this idea that once you graduate high school you have to go to college and then get some great job. I think it's sad that people who don't follow this path often are judged or their choices are questioned, because clearly people like you are proof that you don't have to get a degree to be successful! You're so inspiring :) I'm in college and I'm planning on getting my masters once I graduate, but there have been times where I've considered dropping out and anyone I tell that to freaks out and says I'm going to ruin my life. It's frustrating that people think that there's only one way to do things

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  51. This was a great post. So honest and true. College isn't for everyone, but I was lucky enough to get my undergraduate and graduate degrees without any student loans. I still wonder where I would be had I not gone. I still wonder what my degrees will actually get me and I often guess nothing. I wish I would have been more driven at my young age. You are a strong and amazing person and you have proved college isn't required to live a life you dream of!

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  52. erin i love this post. and i love how you opened up. you know, the truth is, college isn't for everyone. everyone has a different path and you have to do what's right for you and clearly you did. this just goes to show that everyone has to carve up their life in their way.

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  53. Heck yeah. I saw dollar signs as a senior in high school too and school was delayed each semester. Granted, since I was 18, I have taken at least ONE class each semester, but time is looming to finish that damn degree. At 28, I make a 6 figure salary without a college degree, but refuse to give up on education. Will I finish? Yes, eventually. Is it a SUPER priority, no. I didn't want to a be doctor or a lawyer or any other career that required schooling. I simply wanted to feel accomplished in whatever I did. That, my friend, is more valuable that any piece of paper hanging on the wall in my office!

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  54. I think there is so much pressure on kids today and they are made to feel that college is a MUST. A degree may be helpful but the debt they accumulate is not. It's so scary! A piece of paper is not an indication of success. Keep on doing what you're doing...you are a success!

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  55. I was very little when my parents pushed a college degree on me. Neither of them even graduated highschool so of course they wanted more for their little girl. I wanted to be a teacher, so I went to college for 6 years (yeah I had 2 babies in between so it took me longer). I graduated last year, and well Im working as a receptionist for 9$ an hour and I am overwhelmed with student debt. I dont regret my decision but I wished that I was able to do something with it...my advice think about the job market you want before you go into it. A college degree doesnt always equal a job.

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  56. Thank you so much for writing this post Erin! I didn't attend college after high school either. I do get asked quite often where did I go to school and it is always a weird topic for me. I did go to a trade school for broadcasting after high school and was in and out in a year. I loved it, but when things were over there weren't many jobs available around me and I wasn't looking to relocate out of state :( I have never had a problem getting a good job or moving up within a company. (Only once was I told I couldn't move up, but the excuse I got was that wasn't from the small town I worked in. Crazy!) Of course now I work with my husband, so a degree really doesn't matter. The only thing I can't do in my line of work is have the letters CFP after my name because I don't have a bachelor's degree. Not a big deal in my world. I could go on and on about this topic! Again, thank you so much for posting this and for making me feel that is Ok to be happy with the decisions I have made in life!

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  57. This was the best post I have read on your blog yet. Thank you for the constant inspiration. Have a beautiful day:)

    http://taymeetsworld.blogspot.com

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  58. Woah. Love this. I swear you and your hubby remind me so much of me and my husband. We started dating when I was 16, he was 18. I got engaged at 19, married at 21. He didn't go to college, I did get my associates - which now I feel was kind of pointless. Thanks so much for sharing this! XO

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  59. honestly if my parents hadn't insisted and paid for me to go to college i'm not sure i would have gone the traditional 4-year college route. i feel like i've learned much more in my career than i ever did while in school, but the connections i made while i was there opened many doors for me.

    in contrast, my SO went the community college route and has 2 AA degrees (he earned the first while in HS, and finished the second while working FT), yet is still dying to go back for more! he's been in his career for the last 7 years but has always wanted to get his BA. i don't get it, but he's always loved learning. different strokes, right?

    xo. jenn @ hello, rigby!

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  60. You should do a follow up on how you've found such confidence in your choices. No matter what stage of your life you're talking about, you always sounds like you knew exactly who you were and what you wanted. How did you get that way?

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  61. Really interesting read. Definitely sounds like it worked out great for you! On the other hand I went to a trade school and that specific skill has been really beneficial for me. And then on the other hand as well my husband did a bachelors degree with no debt and was able to land an amazing job. Just goes to show there is not one right answer. It works out differently for all of us.

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  62. This is a really, really great post and I really enjoyed reading it. I do think that college isn't the right decision for a lot of people, but it was completely necessary for me. I'm 20 years old right now and can't imagine being married, having a job, house, etc. - you are a more self-sufficient and brave person than I am! For me, I didn't have as much of a life plan or career path planned out, so college has been valuable to me in really figuring out and pinning down what I want to do while also giving me a flexible skill set and incredible contacts. Other than that, it was just a lot of meeting people and fun times :) I think either decision could be the right or wrong decision, you just have to be confident in it and a go-getter, either way!

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  63. E, this is my favorite post you've ever written. I have a $150,000 degree from a prestigious private university, and I have never used it. Being a writer and a photographer doesn't require a degree. Most things don't require a degree and it's a sad fact that a lot of college grads will never get out from under their loans, myself included.

    I think it comes down to this: 18 is very young to be making a decision about one's financial future. I thought "If I get the best grades and go to the best school that will take me, then I will graduate and have a fulfilling and lucrative career and change the world! Who cares if I have to borrow enough to buy a house? I'll pay it back".

    Now I die a little each time I send that giant monthly payment. If I live to be 100 I will never pay it all back.

    A degree used to mean something. It used to open doors. These days, unless one can get out debt free, a degree is a gamble because you graduate with a monthly bill and very scary job prospects.

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  64. Not only is college not for everyone, but not everyone NEEDS college. My husband went to college, but as a designer it was pretty much a very expensive formality. He didn't need the diploma to be successful in his career. Thankfully he's good at what he does, and we can pay on the $60K of loans he has... :/

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  65. I give you GREAT credit for making career/life choices to make yourself happiest. We truly live in a Society where are only options after High School are the army, college or working. It becomes a lot of stress for young teenagers who don't feel like they fit in any of those three categories. You truly are an inspiration to those who know college isn't right for them! You just have to believe in yourself and work hard, because nothing is ever going to come easy. No matter what path you take to your future. So bravo :-)

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  66. In my family, going to college was like going to high school- you just did it. Plus our family bought us pre-paid college when we were babies. It would have been pretty silly to let that go to waste. However, college isn't for everyone! I'm personally happy that I did it for the experiences, but I'm obviously not using said degree for the time being, so some might see it as a waste of time. Either way, I agree that it's up to the individual and what works for them.

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  67. here's why I like this post: a.) I went up against a girl for a marketing job. She had a degree and I did not. It was because who I knew and my personality as to why I got the job and she didn't. b.) you never know what your true calling in life is without seeing God. People just graduate high school and suddenly think college is the next step - I've never understood why people do big stuff in life without seeking out God's will.

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    1. This might be my favorite comment yet. (Even more than my own.)

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  68. Hey lady! I just came across your blog and I'm loving it! :) I must say, I don't have any regrets going to college other than taking out SO many student loans to pay for it. I swear my nonexistent children will be attending college by the time I pay those things off! I think the cost of going is a major decision maker these days with a lot of people.

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  69. This was such an interesting post! I did go to college and it worked really well for me in my career, but I've thought many times about how the push for everyone to go to college is really bad for a lot of people. Love hearing stories of others who didn't go and it turned out to be the right choice!

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  70. Wow! That is so awesome that you had that opportunity to be a real estate agent while still in school! I personally that that was a smart move! :) I kind of did that, but didn't make much money from the job I did after my half day of high school. I've always loved looking at houses like you! People probably think I'm creepy because if there's a window or door open, I love looking inside to see how houses are set up. And people look at me weird....oops. :) Maybe some day I'll do that for fun but for now, I'm raising our little 16month old dude:)

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  71. This is so true! I have not one, but two degrees. They work for me, but I am very aware that it isn't the right path for everyone. I was so proud of my little sister when she finally stopped going to a typical college and went to a trade school instead. You have to do what's best for YOU!

    Also, you've barely aged a blink since high school!

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  73. I definitely think a gap year would have been a good idea looking back just so I could've figured out what I really wanted to study and actually use that degree. I wanted to go for art but didn't. I'm happy to still pursue art on my own, but I sometimes wonder where it could've taken me if I wholeheartedly pursued it much sooner. There are a lot of things in my life I would have done differently to save myself from the consequences I faced later, but then again, you live and you learn and you can pass it on, right? I love the path you took because it was absolutely right for you and it seems you made wise choices. I hate looking back with regret because I know certain things had to happen to be stepping stones for other big things, and I live a full life now regardless of all the things I did or didn't do! That's what matters to me!
    Eva Marie Taylor

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  74. Erin, our stories are so damn similar. I love it, I absolutely LOVE IT.

    This is the God's honest truth.

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  75. I totally agree with your comment that it is not what you know but who you know.... especially these days. I actually recently just had a job interview at a company that I had applied to for and never heard back from, but then got an interview years later when a family friend suggested that I interview. I am now going on 4 years out of school and still haven't found a job using my law degree. Frustrating to say the least and sometimes I do wonder if continuing my education was the best choice for me. I mean I LOVED every minute of law school and found it so interesting, but was feeding my need for knowledge the best reason to go into so much debt, I don't know. Glad that you did what was right for you and never felt pressured to have to go to college... I think so many kids these days feel like it is something they "have" to do even though it isn't what they want and isn't going to help them with their careers in the future. You definitely don't have to go to college in order to be successful and you are living proof of that!

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  76. I currently started back in classes to finish my degree after a few years break. But I will say this, if my work wasn't paying for it, then in no way would I have picked back up and gone back to college. I have worked my way to a pretty good title at my work that had nothing to do with going to school, but everything to do with experience and work ethic. I didn't need a degree to do that for me. I have it all on my own. My husband went to school, got his degree, and it left us in a world of debt we had to work 2 jobs to pay off. It's hard and sad to say I have yet to find the degree one bit rewarding for us. Not that I'm not proud of my husband for going to school and working full time and support him, but to me I agree 100% with you. The desire is just not there for me because I have yet to be in a position where a degree would make the world of difference. I've been happy moving up career wise on my own and buying a home and getting married at 3 years ago, when all my other friends were getting their B.A's. It's what was fulfilling for me as well.

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  77. Although I got a four year degree that was completely necessary in my career (Software Engineering) and I can't imagine having not gotten that degree, for not only the lessons I learned inside the classroom, but also having been a part of many organizations on campus and simply living on my own hours away from my family, I don't think college is for everyone.

    I feel like our society has somehow gotten to the point where going to college is expected of people and therefore so many people go when they really shouldn't. I can't tell you how many people I know who spent a ton of money to get some completely useless degree just to graduate and end up working at the same level and type of job as they had in high school, essentially they spent four years and didn't take a single step forward and now feel like they have to get a second degree or something similar that is in a field that will help them, and at the end of the day they are just way behind their peers and in debt.

    There are plenty of fields where a four year (or longer) degree is 100% necessary and you would be silly to think otherwise (Engineering, Doctor, Lawyer, Pharmacist, Accountant, etc.), but there are also plenty of fields where an Associates degree or vocational program are a much smarter option and even more fields where on the job experience is the only real way to go. As a country we need to start teaching high schooler's that college is not the answer for everyone and that they won't be looked down upon if they follow their passions and find a career that makes them happy.

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  78. I love this post. I wish I could have had the maturity and confidence to make a decision like this at that age. I went straight to university at the age of 17 with not a clue what I was doing because that was the only acceptable "option" in my family. Well, 7 years later I have not a thing to show for it other than 45k in debt. No, I didn't finish my degree and I still haven't found a career path or job that is right for me. I always wonder where I could be if I had made the decisions that were right for me from the start. Thanks for sharing your story.

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  79. I love this post so much!! So great to hear your thoughts on this, and agree 100%!!!

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  81. I did something a little different when I graduated high school. I joined the military. To some people that was crazy. My parents were shocked, people were disappointed a "smart girl like you" wasn't going to college. Well, I did all of my training and enrolled in college and I love it. When I was 18, I didn't want to go to school. I knew I wasn't focused enough for it. I wanted to go play in the dirt and shoot guns. I'm so much happier with this decision than I would have been with any other. Now I'm at a point in my life where I AM focused. I can sit in a college classroom and love learning. I do my homework and I'm excited to get a degree. But that's just me. Like I always say, to each their own.

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  82. Great post and advice to young girls out there - I couldn't agree more!! x

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  83. Thank you for this post! I love it and I love your conviction! I attended college for a short while. I felt pressure from friends, family and society to attend. I was worried about what people would think if I only had a HS education. I eventually stopped going to college. I wish I would have had the courage and wisdom to accept the fact that college wasn't for me from the start. I do think that higher education is great for a great number of people and having a degree can really help with landing a job. My husband attended college and graduate school and it was the best decision he could have made for himself. However, college is not for everyone. I have a great job/career that would normally require a degree but because I knew the right people I was able to land an interview. I nailed the interview, was hired, and have been working hard ever since. There are both risks and benefits to not attending college and each individual must weigh those options. A great work ethic and a joyful heart, in my opinion, will get you the farthest....whether you have a degree or not. :)

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  84. I am currently 23, @ times I can get confused, and frustrated about not knowing where I want to be in life, im learning to just be who I am, and not stress over what "society" thinks you should be at 23. I went to a community college after high school and did 2 years I didnt complete it because I needed money, I moved on my own at 21. I work for a good company that pays well, alot of times I want to quit only because of my coworkers . For awhile i was upset i wasnt in school doing what society says u should do, I do want to go back to school in the spring of 2015, I wanted to this year but dont have enough funds to pay for classes but im saving now so I can continue school . Society says that after high school your suppose to go to college, graduate, get married, buy a house and have kids. For awhile I tried to live up to that until I realized idont have to follow society rules, because its not that easy. At 23 I work 30+ hours a week, I have an apartment with an amazing man that I do plan to marry, I travel at least 3 times a year and Im saving, no kids yet. I dont live a crazy life style, just simple . I am the happiest I have ever been and its getting better as I get older. I realize I am not perfect and life is what u make it .

    P.s @23 you have to do some kind of exercise. Live , love, laugh!!!

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  85. I don't know if anyone is still reading comments on this post but I just discovered it and found it very relieving. In my family, going to college was a big deal. Everyone had gone except my aunt and it was clear that everyone viewed her as something of an outcast which I always, from even a very young age, thought was very mean. I was totally drilled in academics most of my life in preparation for college and "taking care of myself" when I was grown up. I'd always had an artist kind of temperament and needed my space and freedom so it was no surprise that I became extremely depressed around high school, especially as I approached age 18. I liked learning but I liked it more on my own rather than in school. But no, this was not acceptable in my family. I went to college, two of them actually, because overall, I felt I had to. I honestly felt like no one in my family loved or respected me as much if I didn't go and make something of myself. I ended up dropping out the first one after one semester. The second one I managed to stay a year...and I even enjoyed that one and had friends because it was an art school. But I ended up having to drop that one too. I even tried one more time but once again, only made it to five or six months. So, now my dad pretty much treats me with total contempt and never passes up a jab at how much money I wasted. I ended up having to cut him out of my life altogether because he was downright mean and nasty to me. My mother had eventually softened on the issue and became more understanding but unfortunately she passed away recently. My grandmother continues to nag at me to go back to school...especially now, because my husband, who had several degrees, was STILL laid off at work and she thinks if I were to put our kids in school instead of doing homeschooling, (which she also thinks isn't totally acceptable - she's constantly asking me about their progress and what they know how to do) I could go out and get a job and return to college. And then she drills me about college options for my children, saying things like, you don't want their only option to be working in a restaurant. (Which in other words, is the only option I have - in fact, that was the last job I had before I left to get married and have a real family that loves you for you and not for your accomplishments).

    So, I totally agree with college not being for everyone. My husband and I plan to give our kids that option should they choose to go but it will be totally up to them. We want them to know we love them no matter what and they should do what makes them happy. I don't want them to grow up feeling the way I have - like you're inferior just because you don't have that piece of paper. It's bad enough that you have to face so much of that in the working world...you shouldn't have to hear it from family in a way that insults you and makes you feel bad about yourself.

    And what's ironic is that if I had just been left alone and loved for just being me, I might would have gone and found something naturally. I love art and writing and perhaps will one day do that but I still don't need a degree if I decide to. Being in my current environment with a loving and supportive husband has helped me grow and find myself in ways that I never could with the family I had growing up. I still learn plenty of things on my own just because I want to - for instance, the other day I started reading Shakespeare plays just for fun, something I NEVER thought I would end up doing with my spare time because I disliked them in high school.

    So, thanks for the post - very inspirational!

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  86. This is beautiful, thank you for writing it!

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I read and appreciate every one of your comments. Thanks for stopping by my space and sharing a piece of yourself on this huge ole internet. I meant that in the least creepy way possible. I'm just good at making everything awkward. Anyhow, thank you for your comments. They make me smile :)