The College Conundrum.

“So what are you studying in college?”
Oh, how I loathe this loaded question! I understand that asking it is just as common as inquiring about my family or the weather, but for me, it’s the elephant in the room I’d rather not address.
With a slight cower, I usually manage to mutter something to the effect of, “I’m actually not in college right now, and I don’t know if I will be going.” At this point, the person I’m conversing with usually tries to wipe the disapproving look off of their face, pick their jaw up off the floor, and push their bulging eyeballs back into their head. The look on their face alone makes me feel completely worthless; like I’m a total failure for even envisioning my life apart from college.
“But…but…Hannah! Don’t say that! This is your life. You need to go to college. You have to have a degree to make something of yourself. Your whole future is riding on this decision!” (This is usually followed by stories of this person’s life, how they didn’t go to college, and oh, what they would give if they could just go back and do it all over again!)
I get it. This is the real world where making real money requires a real job. Most jobs require training and a degree. Getting a degree requires an education. College is an important decision and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. What I think some people don’t realize is that I don’t take it lightly – at all. Going to college used to be my highest aim, the ultimate prize; the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Well, it’s been almost two years since I exited the high school arena, and since then I’ve worked a big girl job, and discovered the harsh reality of the words “full-time.” Working so much has felt like a purgatory of sorts, one where I’m waiting expectantly for some revelation that it’s time to ditch my job and go to college. There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not plagued with thoughts of college and the future. Not to mention the constant weighing-in from scads of people in my life. If I pursued every avenue I’ve been demandedencouraged to pursue, I’d be a doctor, lawyer, entrepreneur, inventor, author, banker, comedian, publicist, pharmacist, and part-time plant killer. I often feel inundated with opinions and information, so much so that it’s hard to hear God’s voice amid the noise.
Last week as I was sitting at my desk, staring at my computer screen and trying not to fall asleep, this thought hit me in a way it’s never hit me before: I wasn’t made to sit behind a desk. Not at a firm, nor at a college. My passion is not for paperwork, but for people. I happen to believe that fast approaching is the day when Jesus will make His return. If that happens in my lifetime, I want to be found being the hands and feet of Jesus, making a real impact in the real world helping real people. Not with my nose in an anatomy book. Not preparing for the MCAT. Not with a weak and weary spirit trudging through essays and exams, but with a passion and a fire to see lives transformed by Christ. And if He doesn’t come back during my lifetime, I wish to use the time I have here on earth to serve Him wholly.
I want it to be said of me that I lived boldly, gave generously, and loved selflessly. I want to be marked by actions flowing from a heart committed to seeking God’s will, not actions brought forth from the pressure to conform. I don’t want to look back on my life only to realize that I mortgaged a great quantity of my years chasing after a better job, a bigger paycheck and nicer things. I want to redefine the way we see success. I refuse to let a piece of paper be the difference between a suppressed self-worth and a spirit set free in Christ. While some may say I’m wasting my chance to make something of myself, I willingly surrender that to God, knowing that what He can make of me is far greater than anything I could ever dream to make of myself.
It might sound unrealistic or just downright crazy, but I’m okay with that. God can work with crazy. And after all, this is my life and I only get one shot. I know that this life that I dream of sounds whimsical and quite cavalier, but I also know and trust that His plan will prevail. If somewhere down the road His plan for me is college, that’s fine by me. But until then, I’m choosing to be content with where He has me. I’m learning to trade my dreams for His, and the more I do that, the more our plans seemingly coincide.
If you’re like me and you’re caught up in this great quandary, I want to encourage you that college is not as weighty of a decision as it’s made out to be. You aren’t destined for McDonalds if you lack a degree. God can and will use you regardless of where you go and regardless of IF you go to college.
Are you willing to let Him?

PS- I love and respect the opinions of every concerned and opinionated friend and family member that has so kindly weighed in on this topic in my life. Also, to my friends in college- I love, respect, and envy you. Wishing you the very best in your college endeavors and beyond!