September 30, 2011

What Do I Have To Offer?

I've been thinking a lot lately about myself.
Who I am, what I need vs want and what I have to offer to the world.

I, by choice, did not go to college. I don't have a degree to "impress" you with or a career to label "what I do." 
When I graduated high school, I did go to community college for a while but quickly realized it wasn't for me. In my heart of hearts(since I was 12) I knew that I wanted to be a musician. It didn't matter how much money I made from it, if any, or how good I was at it. I just knew it's what I wanted to do.

After that short stint in college, I lived here in Hawaii and worked random jobs (a movie rental store, Subway & then Starbucks) before meeting my future band mates right before my 21st birthday. We decided to start the band on a Tuesday and had our first band practice the following Sunday and as soon as I started singing something in me clicked. It was kind of a magical moment where I could literally feel that I was exactly where I was supposed to be in life. Even if this band never led to anything "impressive", I knew I was supposed to be in that room, in front of that microphone, singing that song, in that band. I truly felt like I was on the right path at the right time and this awareness both excited and scared me because even though it felt great, I was so scared to lose it.
Being the singer in a band is an empowering feeling. I was writing most of the lyrics and even wrote the basics of the music for two of our songs and I felt I had something to give that was all me. No one else could produce the exact same thing. I had a passion that when put to use, felt more fulfilling than any college degree that I was "supposed" to get ever could.

After a few years, band mates grew and changed and took on other projects until we slowly began playing less shows and having less practices. After I got pregnant this went from less to never and I just focused on the pregnancy. Who wants to see a big ol' belly up on that stage anyway?

Since the pregnancy and having Rowan we still haven't practiced, played and it now looks like we may never again and this leaves me searching for new band mates and new inspiration and a new outlet. 
But in the meantime, I am a wife, mama and blogger and these things make me happy.

A couple of weeks ago I ran into a guy from high school at Starbucks who I hadn't seen since we graduated. He was talking about his college degree and his job he now has and then he asked "did you graduate yet?" and I SWEAR college did not even come to mind in the slightest and I was like "ummm yea we graduated together" and he and my friend that was there with me were like "no COLLEGE?" and I was like "PFFFFFT no! I didn't go to college... I graduated, stayed in Hawaii and worked odd jobs while playing shows with my band and then got married and had a baby!" 

He looked at me like that was the most pathetic story he'd ever heard.
It affected me. I went home and told Derek "I don't have anything to tell anyone that would impress them."


I know I'm meant to play music.
I know I'm meant to be with Derek.
I know I'm meant to be Rowan's mom.
And all of these things make me happy, so why am I so concerned with "impressing" someone with something like a college degree (which is great and I mean no offensive to those of you that went to college at all!!!) But isn't that just what everyone does? Everyone knows you go to college, get a degree and then get some job with that degree to live off of and there's only a lucky few that actually get a job that makes them happy

So why is that so impressive and special compared to what I chose to do?
I know that the answer is that it isn't and that everyone has their own path. But I let the general public make me feel like less of an "interesting" person because I'm not a career woman, or college graduate, or anything else that fits into an impressive ideal.

Well from now on I refuse to feel this way. Life is about doing what you love, family, friends and finding your own happiness and in a way, I ALREADY AM one of the lucky few that found that within myself.
I only need to impress myself and I know that I do that by writing/playing music and I'm determined to make that happen again. Even if it takes a while I will make it happen and when I do, I'll be proud of that.

And when I run into another friend from high school at Starbucks one day, I'll tell them my story the exact way that I told that other guy and no matter what look they give me, I'll feel proud to tell them so.
So what do I have to offer? Maybe not a college degree or a solid job but I have a passion, a family and a lot of self love. 


  1. AGREED. !00%. Sometimes I actually feel weird being in an "acceptable" life situation because I have way different priorities than a lot of people I work with and come across on a daily basis. But you're right; it's not about impressing others. It's all about being content with who you are and where your life is headed.

    Yes, there is some non-normalcy in my life too, and I'm sure some people out there think my husband and I are crazy for how we're living our lives right now, but I know it's exactly where we're supposed to be in this present state.

    So kudos! You're definitely on the right track and doing things right. Only YOU can know what's best for you, your family, and your little one.

  2. I know this feeling.

    I don't have a degree either. I knew I was meant to be a mama and I wanted to stay home with my babies until they went to school. And I planned to use the time I spent at home with them to figure out what I wanted to be 'when I grew up.' The only part I failed to plan was the time between high school and baby making so I ended up at college for one year.

    I'm all for learning and will probably go back to school eventually, but not the 4-7 year degree deal. It's not for me.

    I get the same comments from people. As though I am some uneducated baby machine who's wasted her life. And I get down on myself about it sometimes, too.

    Like you said, *I* am happy with my life and the choices I made. : )

  3. I DID get the degree and the job but I still hate having always spin whatever you are doing to sound "impressive" when people want to know what you're up to. The whole concept of judging others in that way upsets me a little. I want to be able to do things I believe in and be who I am without worrying about whether it looks good to others. If it's right, it's right.

  4. You go, girl. Eff that guy, srsly. From what I can tell you are a talented, passionate, beautiful person/mother/wife/musician/blogger. And its good enough for you it should be good enough for everyone else <3

  5. This post is so great and I really relate to it. Recently, I decided to go to cosmetology school and even though I knew for sure that is what I wanted to do, I felt so insecure about making that decision and telling other people about it. I have always done well academically and my parents have always said things like "your our smart one!" I was afraid of what my parents and others would think, when I told them I was dropping out of college to do hair and makeup. I also felt sorta insecure that all my friends my age have academic degrees and many are going on to graduate school. Finally with some encouraging words from real friends, I realized that living out my dreams and passions is nothing to be embarassed about. I can't worry about what other people think or how they compare my achievements to theirs. As long as I feel accomplished that is all that matters. Thanks for reassurring me of that again with this post! (and sorry for this mini essay!)

  6. You are SO awesome and I love this post. <3 I've been following you for a long time (on blogger and Instagram) and I think you are a beautiful, inspiring woman with a gorgeous little family. Some people go to college and some don't. Some people try it for a little while and realize it's not for them (like you and me!). I was actually just thinking about this topic today and how I'm completely fine with the idea that I will probably never get a college degree. This life should be about doing what makes YOU happy, not about doing what we think will make others happy. I really hope that you can get a band going again! I would love to hear your music. <3 =]

  7. & just as I was feeling like a worthless scum, I read this post.

    Loved it & feeling a bit inspired by it.

  8. Hi, I've been reading you for a long time now, I'm from Hungary, I'm a mum of a two year old girl, I don't have a college degree, I never had a decent job, but I had a maximalist mum, so my self esteem was quite low for like 25 years. After giving birth to my child, suddenly I felt that something has happened to me, as a person. I gained weight, but somehow I felt that my ego got fatter also. :) I ralized that all the years of frustration was caused only by me. Because I thought that being 'normal' and living the 'ideal life' is the only way and is a MUST to get a happy life. That was a huge moment for me. That was the time, when I could finally let go all the fear of 'how will I be a good model for my girl? how will she ever feel fulfilled, if she gets the samples from me?' After a long time of hard soul-work I started feeling that I'm as good as I am, I'm creative, I'm empathic, I can bond with people and help them. I applied to be a psychologist, and I'm living the life I was dreaming of.
    The point of my story is that you and me and all the other mums who are sharing these kind of feelings, and are able to live their lives, should be very grateful to life/God/karma for having the opportunity to do so. Because it's not a coinsidence. WE WERE MENT TO DO SO! :) Thats our job in this life. To raise up little girls and boys, who could be healthy minded and contented men and women when they grow up to be a rock star or an IT specialist.
    I think that knowledge worths far more than a degree. :)
    With love and positivity:

  9. I am not sure I can add more to what the above commentors mentioned. I went to community college as well, I didn't end up finishing because I got pregnant with my second. And so far no one has ever looked down at me for not finishing. Not even the people who I went to college with. I am sorry to hear you came across someone who made you feel bad. I think you are talented! I love your posts and your photography! Hope your weekend is great!

  10. I never went to college, and I never wanted to. When people from my past ask me what I am. I tell them I am a SAHM and am the luckiest lady around. Sometimes people say, oh I could never do that. It would drive me crazy. To which I reply, I love my children so much I couldn't imagine doing anything else. That usually shuts them up.

  11. I hate when I feel people are judging because I don't have a college degree. But really...what does that little piece of paper mean anyway? If you have something you are passionate about and you needed/earned a degree for it, kudos to you...but a degree is not pertinent to happiness and a full life of love, which, in the end, are all that matter.

    You have things in life that other people would give anything to have-probably even their degree ha. Oh, and you also don't have insane college loans or debt to pay off!!!

    Never feel like you don't have anything to 'impress' other people...if they want to judge, let them be petty and probably miserable in their own lives, and judge. You are awesome lady!

  12. Good for you for knowing who you are and what you want out of life! I went the college route and got my degree and have a career that I love and my brother went the musician route and plays tons of local venues and festivals and makes a living that he loves. We all make choices and hopefully, when we follow our hearts and believe in ourselves, those choices can bring us amazing growth and happiness. What's important is surrounding yourself with positive people who love and support you, no matter what. It's pretty clear that you have that:)

  13. I went to college mainly because my parents didn't and I didn't want to struggle like they have. I come from a small town and your job choices are very limited there. I paid WAY too much for college, didn't get a job in my degree field (sort of) after I graduated. Even my best friend got her masters in what she's passionate about but 2 years later is working in insurance because she can't find something in her field.

    And then there's my husband. He spent 2 years on an associates and then transferred to the 4yr school for his BA...and he spent 4 years in school for his BA, was 3 credits short because of a GPA issue and never technically got his diploma. It always kind of pulls at him-he wishes he had his degree officially but he's making really good money and is SUPER talented doing what he loves (web designer).

    I get kind of jealous of HIM sometimes because no way in hell would I paid as much as he does to do what I love and let's face it, I'm too indecisive to ever decide on what that may be.

    ANYWAYS- don't beat yourself up over it. College degrees are great but you can be successful and impressive without them. You determine the parameters of your own success, not anyone else!

  14. Yup, College degrees are great but don't define who you are or mean you will be successful. I have a degree and took so many extra classes after the degree in things I was "interested" in...ended up with jobs I hated and owing a lot of money in student loans. Now I'm a SAHM and feel like I'm in the best place I could and want to be. But I feel insecure too about where I didn't go and what I will do when my kids grow up. So I appreciate your post, and think your last line says it all! :)

  15. Jess! You really made my day with this post. It's so honest and I think you make the best points. I have the degree and the baby but I lack the husband and when I tell people I am a single mom at 24, I get so many pity looks. It drives me crazy. It makes me sad too because I definitely catch myself becoming defensive and making equally bad judgments. Ah, funny how that all works.

    Anyways, I am s glad you posted this. Thank You Thank You Thank you!!

  16. I don't usually comment, but I've been reading your blog for a while now and I just felt like saying hi! I got a college degree in something that doesn't really apply to life or a particular job. After college I tried two different paths that kept me in higher education (nurse and teacher). But I ended up feeling like neither of those were right either. Now I'm pursuing what I was passionate about in high school, photography. And even though it feels "right" it's still scary. And I hate the "so what do you do?" question. Because right now the answer is that my husband and I live with our parents, I'm a part time nanny, he's a part time ocean lifeguard searching for better employment, and I'm starting a business. I want to be a mom so bad, but sometimes I feel guilty for wanting to stay home with my future baby because I know my husband will never have a high paying job and that we'll struggle to make ends meet. That guilt over not bringing in a lot of money myself and having to answer to other people have been waying on me heavy recently. I needed to read this post, so thank you.

  17. right on sister! I hate the stigma attached with "not going to college" & riding the path to success that everyone is supposed to do. I went to college but have chosen to become a mum & that's all I want to do. I hate the fact that the first thing you're always asked is "so what do you do?" Who cares what we do for jobs! Isn't it what you do in your life that is more important & interesting! Don't ever feel bad for living the life you're happy with

  18. Most people do what they 'should' because someone told them that's what's supposed to happen. Very few people have the courage to Chase their dreams. Don't ever let anyone make you feel like that is something to be ashamed of. We tell our children that they can be anything when they grow up, so what's wrong with believing that about yourself?

  19. I know exactly how you feel. I got married really young and quit college when I got pregnant. The thing is, I have a family. I am devoted to them. At the end of the day, being their steady rock is what I live for. I'd much rather be an awesome wife and mom than have a piece of paper that tells me that I spent four years reading books. Not that going to college is a bad thing. It's a great thing. But it's not the greatest thing.

  20. I am so glad you wrote this! I have felt the same way recently. I love that you are so sure of yourself and are taking pride in the path that's right for you. :)

  21. I'm really glad you wrote this blog! It made me feel better about myself, and the life I'm pursuing. I didn't go to college,(sometimes I wish I did) but at the time it just wasn't my thing. I tried to go back a couple of years ago and had the same experience I did when I was 18. I hated it...Anyways, my dream job was to work in a pet supply store and help people make better choices for their animals, and I got that exact job!! Working in a Natural Pet Supply Store. But when I tell people I'm a Manager of this store I get embarrassed because the people I am telling this to are usually college graduates who are becoming lawyers, doctors, or teachers...I have to keep reminding myself that what I am doing is MY dream, who cares if I'm not going after a job where I'm going to make $100 grand+ a year!! I'm happy right now...AND...I am working towards an even bigger dream which is to open my own pet supply store one day...I'm not sure where I was going with this...but anyways, thank you, thank you and thank you!!!

  22. I feel sad for that guy. He sounds depressing. BUT, you are amazing. It's awesome that you are able to be strong and say, "This is who I am, and I'm awesome." <3

  23. Rock on chick! We already discussed this but you shouldn't have to compare your life to some invisible life metric. And anyone who consideres college the apex of success or what is "impressive" is an idiot. I've met some of the dumbest people I've ever met in college, and some of the smartest people I've met (such as my husband) were not in college. College doesn't decide how cool you are or how far you've progressed - being YOURSELF and being happy with yourself is far more important and awesome than going to college because you're trying to impress some imaginary beings in your head.

    Basically, I think you're awesome for who you are, so...keep doing that. :)

    I go to AZ on Thursday, we should Skype when I get there!

  24. Well I think having a random girl from Kentucky who you don't even know totally invested in your blog and life is a HUGE accomplishment! Your blog is amazing and I love reading it everyday!

  25. Jess (do you go by Jess??), I think who you are and what you do is amazing. And, you have one of the most difficult yet most rewarding jobs out there....being a mother. And there are many parents out there who did go to college and can't figure out how to be a good parent.

    Be who you are. Who cares what others think and good for you for realizing this.

  26. You're such a remarkable lady, it shows! <3 love this post so very much!

  27. Thank you so much for posting this...I have felt this way for so long.After graduating high school all my friends have went to college...I've always wanted to be a wife and mother:ever since I was a little girl.I have felt so ashamed sometimes when I hear my friends talking about their busy college schedules and their finals and such...thank you for being real...and definitely motivating me to follow MY dream!

  28. I graduated from college and still feel uninteresting or unimpressive to "those" people who have also graduated and then gone off and scored a high paying job or something silly like that. Going to college didn't improve my worth at all, it just is what it is.
    You are a wonderful mother, wife and blogger and if you're happy then there is nothing to worry about. I'm not sure the person you were talking to was happy. We all lie a lot to people we use to know, we don't want to seem like anything feels off. But to a lot of people that just kept going with what everybody told them to do something does feel off.
    Be happy with who you are and what you have. I think it seems pretty amazing.

  29. Jess,
    Don't ever let anyone make you feel less than fabulous based on their dumb judgment. I have met some of the most unintelligent people who are college graduates (even those with Phds) and what it comes down to is how happy YOU are. Some people can get every degree in the world, and still won't find happiness. Plus, I truly believe the most important job in the entire world is that of a Mom. You contribute the most, and I fully believe it's the most noble profession! I know Rowan is going to be so proud of you when she grows up - you follow your passion and are such an amazing loving Mom. This post made me sad and happy because it bums me out you got sad about this, but I'm really glad you got to the point where you are refusing to let anyone elses' idea of "success" get you down. You are amazing.

  30. thumbs up, pretty mama. honesty is refreshing.

  31. it's so funny that i read this today because i have been feeling so much pressure to be more than i am, to have a career already, to make something of myself. i was thinking about all the pressures and expectations that women feel to live up to in our society and the time that we live in. we have so many more options and choices than we ever have before in history and yet we're still expected to be more, do more, impress more, give more.

    i have had this on my heart for a really long time, years even and i've lately been thinking about talking about it on my blog. i'm so glad that you wrote how you feel here because so many of us can relate. i did go to college and i studied theatre and i graduated, but do i have a career in theatre? nope. does it stress me out and make me feel less than? yup. why?

    i want to tackle those issues and why i feel those things.

    you are a gorgeous women with a beautiful family and a wonderful blog. you have style, grace, beauty. you are kind and sweet and obviously a wonderful wife and mother. who says that's not enough?? i'd say you are a success already and no matter if you ever sang again or if you ever formed another band, you are still amazing.

    thank you so much for being an encouragement to me to write how i'm feeling. i feel less fearful to do so because you have. <3

  32. Our conversation would go a little like this...

    you: "I didn't go to college... I graduated, stayed in Hawaii and worked odd jobs while playing shows with my band and then got married and had a baby!"

    me: "I didn't go to college... I graduated and worked odd jobs.."

    now do you see how much you have accomplished? you are blessed. and i know i am too but i haven't found the one. and we haven't had our Rowan. i'm not even sure what my talent is just yet... but i am doing my best to figure it out.

    thanks for sharing :)

  33. What! THat's so funny, I just had kind of a similar moment and wrote about it yesterday! And I said pretty much the same thing...everybody follows their own path and that's nothing to worry about or judge them on.

  34. i just read this and i believe that what we accomplish does not define us. it is living with what you are passionate about that really counts. i remember this feeling when i decided to take a break after high school (i got judged, a lot). eventually, i enrolled in a trades course, not to say that i finished something, but it was something that really caught my attention... almost 11 years later, i'm still doing what i love - making teeth! you are living your dream, playing music (when you can), being a mom & a wife, and having lots of us that care. stay proud, you are one phenomenal woman, don't let them tell you otherwise! xoxo

  35. You have a massive blog following. That's impressive, right? And you have a massive blog following because you've found what makes you happy, and happiness is irresistible!

  36. I moved and got behind on my blog reading so I'm just now getting to this post. I couldn't help but comment. I graduated from college and I feel the same way you did in that Starbucks a lot of the time. I think being a young mama has this weird stigma of settling, having nothing better to do/not being smart enough to do anything else, falling into a stereotyped gender role.. All these yicky things! But, um, HELLO! We're raising the future and if you take that seriously it's a big effing deal! On top of being a young mama I'm a doula, an under recognized, under appreciated career despite the indisputable evidence that having a doula is invaluable to a woman during labor. Society is never on point with what should be valued I guess. SO, we must value ourselves and tell everyone else to tend their own garden when they start getting judgmental on us. :)