“In the end, she became more than what she expected. She became the journey, and like all journeys, she did not end, she just simply changed directions and kept going.” — R.M. Drake

I don’t consider myself to be very conventional- I’ve always been quite the opposite.

My educational career was spent in public school, though for a long time I didn’t really fit in. I was the wild child with crooked teeth and a behavior to match. It wasn’t that I didn’t respect authority (well, maybe at first it was) I just had a fickle curiosity that always seemed to propel me into trouble.

But I was also expressive; I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. And there was always this budding compulsion to do something- anything to set myself apart from the rest that emboldened me to try new things like singing a song I wrote for the school talent show or wearing mismatched clothing because I thought it looked cool. 

Over the years my behavior improved, I got braces to straighten my teeth and my fashion sense no longer caused my mother physical pain. Through it all, my love for art remained but the belief that I could turn that into a career diminished. Every teacher I had in high school seemed to recite the same narrative to us, “Everything you’re doing here today is to prepare yourself for college tomorrow”. I was enveloped by the concept that college was the only next step.

My yearning for a self-curated foothold in life drove me out of my city- the small lasso that held me back, as I had thought. By the end of my senior year, I decided to make a move to Florida to attend college.

My most indelible memories, one would think, would be of the warm beaches or the colorful, fleeting moments of daylight where the sun gave the earth a lingering goodnight kiss, giving way to darkness. But it’s not. What I recall most vividly is betrayal.

Only having brought minimal items with me, my room laid bear, a cage of white walls, white doors, and white sheets- the only witnesses to my internal struggle. I wanted so badly to find success in college, to have the esteemed college experience, to make lasting memories. But with each passing day, enthusiasm turned to a somber dread as I came to a daunting realization. I hated college.

I tried to power through, part of me still wanted to strive for that degree. But I was a girl conflicted. My desire for success was wholly contradicted by my abhorrence of all that I was doing (or as I now realize, how I was doing it). My feelings clashed and raged against each other until something inside me finally said, it’s okay, you can go home now.

I finished up the semester, taking my finals and leaving for home that very same night. I drove straight through the night and made it home within 24 hours. With each passing minute, I felt a weight lift more and more off my chest. If I had any doubts about my decision before I left, they were now miles behind me.

It was shortly thereafter that I learned about Praxis: a program that takes ambitious people and gives them the tools to hone their skills and build a great career for themselves. I enjoyed my new job but something, a sort of draw, kept bringing me back to this program. I couldn’t stop thinking about it.

It took me awhile to work up the courage, but once I actually applied, I wondered why I ever hesitated. Throughout my application process, I just knew that this was what I wanted to do. This is what I wanted to invest my time, money, and energy into. I literally screamed when I learned of my acceptance. I can’t imagine I could have been any more excited if I had received an acceptance letter from Harvard.

Now I’m realizing all the ways that I can incorporate my passions, like my love of art, into a career that I create myself. I don’t need college to find success.

Success is never easy, but at least with Praxis I know I can achieve it and relish in the process.