This post has been in my notes app for a really long time, and seeing all the graduation pictures made me feel so nostalgic for my college years (tears were shed), so I thought this would be a good time to share!
The best thing about running a business is that we can take a variety of paths to make them successful. Some people start one in high school and never work a part time job or go to school, some people start in their 30’s after working a full-time corporate job. That’s the amazing thing about being your own boss– there’s no perfect time or way to do it.
When I was going away to college, I kept saying to myself “I know I want to be a photographer, why do I have to attend class to do this”. Frankly, I wouldn’t have gone to college if my dad hadn’t made me (I was living under his roof so it was his rules). Now that I’m graduated, I want nothing more than to go back to school! Going to class was a pain, and some nights I thought I was literally going to die in Cook Library from writing my 30 page ethnography at 2am, but my business would not be where it is today if I had not pursued higher education. I’m not here to change anyone’s minds about their decision to or not to go to school, but if you are going to school, I just want you to know just how much it made my business thrive.
The 2 Best Things I Did For My Business (and myself)
1. Go to college. And be a Communications major (but that’s a completely personal thing that you can read about here!) Going to college put me in situations that I wouldn’t be in anywhere else. It gave me new perspectives, and taught me to put myself in other peoples shoes. Being constantly immersed in an environment with so many people from different walks of life forced me to learn so much more about the world. Even though I FREAKING LOVE MY MAJOR AND IT’S THE BEST THING THAT’S EVER HAPPENED TO ME, something you gain from going to college that is (in my opinion) more important than your degree, is the perspective you gain. Never would I ever have to work with people I did not know (and sometimes did not like) to finish a 3 part research project and prepare an hour long presentation. Projects like that did not teach me about the topic I was researching, it taught me how to step up and get things done, even if it wasn’t my responsibility. Those things taught me that sometimes you make sacrifices for others (in this case, sleep and sanity…..and showers) so that everyone succeeds. It taught me that even when things are shitty and you are 3 seconds away from clicking the “withdraw from class” button, to not give up. Because you can’t fail this class.
So many times when I was in Cook Library at 2am (this is not an abnormal occurrence, which is why I keep reiterating) I sat there and thought “why am I doing this. I own a business, I don’t need to be researching about Self Disclosure and Information Seeking In Computer Mediated Relationships” (if that topic intrigues you I’ll send you my paper, it was my favorite one). But I wasn’t going to give up, just because “I don’t need my degree”. Entrepreneurs don’t give up, because that’s not who we are. In my 4(.5) years of college, I learned so much more about the world and myself, and learned life skills to keep pushing towards my goals.
2. Join an organization. If you follow me on Insta, you know that I proudly boast my sorority letters in my bio at all times, and I’m a HUGE advocate for Greek life. Joining a sorority was honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. When I transferred to Towson at the beginning of my Junior year, I was already well into the wedding industry, and all of my friends were wedding professionals of some sort. I felt like I was with the in-crowd, and it was AWESOME….for a few months….until I realized I didn’t have any friends at school. All my wedding friends worked from home on weekdays, and had weddings on weekends, just like me. None of the people in my classes understood why I couldn’t hangout on weekends, and I’m pretty sure my roommate thought I hated her because I would leave on Fridays and come home on Sundays (sorry Brigitte!). NO ONE could relate to me, and it was terrible! I would have emotional breakdowns (I’m really not kidding) because I didn’t have anyone that related to what my life was like. Even when I joined my sorority, I was still pretty upset because no one at school had a job like mine, and no one with a job like mine was in school. I was the awkward middle person who had the best(?) of both worlds. Until I stopped trying to get people to relate to me.
I started making friends in my sorority, and I didn’t feel like I was missing out by not going to the bars on Saturday nights (because Thursday nights at Greene Turtle are the best anyways). I no longer felt awkward and show-offy about saying “I own a business”, and gradually people stopped starting every conversation with “I love your pictures!” (don’t get me wrong, I loved the compliments!). No one wanted to talk about bouquets, or the wedding that was up on Style Me Pretty, or the new website that so-and-so just launched. I didn’t feel like my life revolved around my business anymore, because I had friends who knew nothing about my business. My absolute least favorite thing is when I hangout with friends at lunch and all we talk about is weddings. Don’t get me wrong, weddings are my jam, but that’s still work! And honestly, sometimes I just want to hangout with people who talk about which pregame we should go to that night (just telling the truth!)
Now I’m not saying you have to join Greek Life, or an organization at all! But being a business owner in school didn’t allow me much time to seek out friends, so being in an organization brought me to people who became my all time favorite people! There are so many clubs on campuses, and there’s BOUND to be at least one that will excite you!
Back to my original statement, I am not here to say that going to college is right or wrong. Everyone has their own path, and confidently walking that path is what makes us unique. If you’re in college or deciding on whether or not to go to college, I want you to know that it is possible, and it is a GREAT idea, and you CAN do it. It won’t be easy, and your experience will be very different, but you will learn things that will help your business (and your life) in the long run. And in the end you get to wear this weird hat! 🙂