On Believing in My Own Abilities

beyouSo… I do a lot.  Anyone who knows me reasonably well knows that my interests are very fluid.  I just like to do stuff.  At any given time, I may have at least 2-3 different things that I’m working on in an effort to … I guess find my ‘niche’. Y’all have seen it.  Hell, this blog originally started as a (pretty pitiful) beauty blog!

In the last seven years, I have been a handbag designer, telemarketer, jewelry designer, customer service rep, cosmetology student, hairbow designer, daycare worker, scented candle maker, brown sugar scrub maker, graphic designer, and most recently: author.  I have enjoyed doing every single one of these things, but in the course of that constant movement, it always felt like something was missing for me.

A degree.

Since I left school the first time around, the fact that I never finished my degree haunted me, and had me wrapped up in a crazy sense of failure.  Nevermind that I had built a lucrative graphic design business from nothing, using skills that I developed on my own.  I didn’t have a degree!  How could I possibly succeed without it? I needed that degree so that I could get a dependable job, and contribute to my family with a check that I could count on every other week.  I needed that degree so that I could show my girls that they had a mommy who was smart, and focused, and had a real job.  I needed that degree to prove that I could finish something, that I didn’t fail at everything I tried.

So I went back.

But as I stressed myself to bring home good grades, give my kids the attention they needed, try to keep my business afloat, write, talk to my husband, and occasionally sleep, I started to wonder… is this REALLY worth it at this point in my life?  I could (pay to) go to school for four years, get the degree, and (maybe) get a job where I was making (maybe) the same amount of money that I could have been bringing in from my graphic design business. Four years ago.

So what sense does that make?  I’m stressing myself to the point of health issues for what… a safety net? Por Que?  Why am I sacrificing MY business to get a degree so that I can make someone else a helluva lot more money than they’re going to pay me for my time, when I could spend this four years developing and honing my own specific skills and building it into something better?  And did I mention that I don’t even like IT? I can do it, very well, but I prefer to spend my time making stuff look pretty.

Of course, I’m looking at this through the lens of someone who has a husband who makes enough that I don’t have to do anything.  But he asked me something one day that really made me think. “What would you do if I weren’t here?”  This was in the course of a conversation about my future, which is of course, our future.  Guess what? Being a student certainly isn’t gonna pay any bills.  But having my own business, something that depends on no one but me? That would. That will. My family knows first hand that corporate job security is a myth.  Remember? 6-7 months pregnant, under contract on a house, massive lay-off from huge tech company?  So yeah.  I want to build something that is my MINE, because I’m certainly not gonna fire myself, right? (Well, maybe, but that’s another story.)

In any case, this is certainly not to downplay the value of a degree. I get it. But, I don’t want to focus my time or energy working on a degree because it’s ‘safe’ to have one, I want to do it because I want one.

And I thought I did.

But now I don’t.

So I’m not.

After I take finals next week, I won’t be returning to school.  I’m gonna write more books, and design more logos, and potty train my kid, and get the other ready for kindergarten next fall. I’m gonna tend my veggie garden, grow my roses, and try not to comb out my locs.  I’m going back to flexible and fluid, because that’s where I thrive, and it’s going to be ok, because I’m actually good at writing, and I’m a good graphic designer as well. *toot toot*  I believe that I can make a good living with my God-given abilities, which I don’t need to learn algebraic functions to develop.

Failure is always a possibility, in any path, but I know how to overcome that. I’ve done it before. I’m stepping out, and I’m doing it as if I don’t have a safety net.

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7 years ago

I think it shows an amazing amount of courage for you to step out and do what you REALLY want! It’s always harder to do what our heart calls us to do rather than what we think we should do!

Dahlia Savage
7 years ago

Yes, I do believe that you should do whatever it is you are passionate about…and sometimes, those things do not necessarily require a degree. Just the fact that you are naturally talented, self-taught, and professional speaks volumes to your intelligence.

Go on and step out on that faith lady! It will lead you down the right path. 🙂

7 years ago

I know plenty of people with degrees who don’t have a pot to piss in. That degree isn’t everything and with all your skill sets it def won’t make or break you. You have to do what’s best for you in the long run.

7 years ago

My sister, God bless you as you find your path. Everyone’s place in life is different and we will all get to ours on our own way. I think you’ve done a great job so far!

7 years ago

Good for you! I’m a firm believer that college isn’t for everyone and have had heated debates with family over mine and my husband’s decision not to pressure our kids to go. It sounds like you have an amazing plan and lots of life experience to back it up and if someone demands a degree to work with you then it probably isn’t the right partnership for you to have anyway – your life’s body of work speaks for itself. Wishing you the best on your journey!

7 years ago

OMG! Love this post. I beat myself up all the time for not finishing my degree because I came so close. But also because I wanted a sense of accomplishment. In my late 30s I’m still trying to find my niche. I wrote a list of titles that I want added to my name and doggone it. That’s what I’m gonna focus on.

7 years ago

Girl I am one who has a degree and nothing but student loans that I can’t pay to show for it. My degree has gotten me nowhere. You can learn what you need to learn on your own if you sit there and learn.

7 years ago

I have been dealing with that same dilemma/decision for a while myself. I had someone tell me to just focus on one thing and work to perfect that, but that’s not me, and that is not who I want to be. So, thank you Christina for the words of encouragement and confirmation.

Ruth Hebert
7 years ago

I can totally relate! The sad part is other women, specifically of color, had me doubting my chances of being successful without a degree. With God’s help, I’m over it! His plan for me requires my faithfulness and obedience to Him. Period. He gave me the talent to write amongst other things so I’m getting it done.

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