I failed out of college.
In the spring of 1994 I received a letter telling me, due to my academic standing, I had failed out of the University I was attending. But I knew it was coming long before it arrived. Within a few short weeks of stepping onto campus as a freshman in the Fall of 1993, this ball of yarn was already starting to unravel.
I felt like a failure.
I suppose that isn't much of a story, in and of itself. Others have been where I was, and others will be in the future. So, why am I sharing this? Because others don't have to. Because I have made it my life's work to not "waste my pain". 1993-1994 was a painful year for me. And unless you've been there or are now, it is really hard to understand the feeling of isolation and desperation that accompanies it.
I didn't know WHO I was, and was desperately trying to. I knew who everyone else thought I was. I knew who everyone else wanted me to be. (Parents, Teachers, Coaches, Faculty, Administration, Friends, etc…) Which, in my mind, translated to what I was supposed to be. The problem was, it wasn't me. It was someone else's version of me. I couldn't articulate that thought then like I can now. 20 plus years of reflection can offer clarity like that. So now I spend my time working with high school and college students who are where I was. I work with them, so that they don't have to go through what I did.
They are standing in the midst of real struggle.
Emotional. Relational. Educational…struggle.
All of it, and more.
As a college freshman, it didn't take long for me to connect with a group of people who were willing to let me be me…or so I thought. Did they have my best interests at heart? No. Looking back, did they really know me at all? No. Then why was I so attracted to being around them, and neglecting my academics?
Because they offered me something I wanted.
Come here. Do this. Be part of "us". Do your thing. We value you, because of who you are. No conditions. No strings attached. (except there were) We'll "do life" together. Eat together. Play intramurals together. Road trip together. Everything…together. Until it gets hard. Then they were gone.
I so desperately wanted something that made sense as I struggled, that I took my eyes off of my future.
Let me be clear. It wasn't their fault. I can't and won't pass the blame. But my experience was real.
I knew I didn't want to be all the things everyone else wanted me to be. I knew I was confused. I knew I had no clue what major I should choose. And I knew the distraction of being pursued by a group of people was giving me what I thought I needed.
But it wasn't.
And the day I received "the letter", that became painfully clear.
None. Not one…single…person from that group has ever reached out to me after I left the University.
Let that sink in.
It was one of the most isolating feelings I had and have ever experienced.
The good news?
This isn't where the story ended.
Actually, it's where it started.
And it's why I am writing to you today.
My story of struggle in college was over 20 years ago.
But for many college students…their story is happening right now.
And the feelings of isolation, confusion, desperation, etc…?
They are real. They are the same.
You may know someone going through them as we speak.
I want to invite you to keep reading as I share more of my story.
You aren't alone.
And before you leave, please take this encouragement with you. (Share it with someone if this isn't you)
You are uniquely gifted. You are talented. The world needs every, single ounce of who you are and the change only you can bring to us. You are creative, smart, and compassionate. I look forward to sharing with you on this journey. I will share my story, so that you feel empowered in yours. You will make it. You will bounce back, comeback, and use this setback as THE moment you launched yourself forward.
I believe in you, and so do many, many others.
Thanks for stopping by today.
I look forward to hearing your story, too.
I've held onto this story for a long time.
I've told it in bits and pieces, but never in it's entirety...
I failed out of college.
It still hurts to write those words, and worse yet to read them back to myself.
But the hurt isn't a "feel sorry for me" hurt. It's a "I'm doing something about it" hurt. In the lives of those who need the advice, mentorship, and direction that can only come from the voice of someone who's been there.
I ended up graduating Cum Laude from another 4 year University.
The journey in between, and since, has taught me everything I will share with you. And I'm doing it, so that you can make it.
When you know WHO you are, you will know WHAT to do.
And one more thing...
You aren't a failure.
Maybe some of your choices are making you feel that way.
But...that word doesn't define WHO you are.
That word is simply a reminder that there is work to be done.
Work that you can do, so that you make it to where you want and need to go.
Failure isn't a permanent place.
It's a reminder that it's time to get to work.
So let's do the work.
Keep coming back to this blog for starters.
Take in some encouragement.
One step at a time.
We'll talk more soon.
I've got a lot of stories from my journey I am going to share with you.
From the desk of our founder, Brett W. Gould.