I Might Be a Failure, But I’m Still A Success
In the eyes of the general public, you could consider me a failure. Some might even say that I’m a loser with no future. Why? Because I skipped out on something that everyone is “supposed” to do: graduate college.
I was inspired by Crystal Paine from Money Saving Mom to share something deeply personal with you. When I am asked where I got my college degree, I get red in the face and quickly change the subject (and usually wind up making the situation even more awkward).
That’s because I never actually graduated college. I got married and started a family instead.
I was always brought up to believe that if you didn’t graduate college, you’d be doomed to flip patties for the rest of your life. I was told that everybody who was anybody needed a college degree. That it was the only way to make a living and get ahead in life.
It’s strange how a “failure” like me was getting a mortgage with my husband and having my second child by the time my peers were graduating college, desperately searching for a job in their field.
It’s taken me a long time, but I’m not ashamed of the fact that I didn’t graduate college. In fact, I’m actually proud of where I am now!
Neither my husband nor I have college degrees. But that hasn’t stopped us from working hard and dreaming big.
I’ve always been business-minded.
Some kids wanted to be doctors or astronaut or police officers when they grow up. I wanted to be a business person. My dad was an entrepreneur and a businessman. I watched him work hard for all that we had. Plus, it always sounds better being the boss than being an employee. Am I right?
Back when we were really struggling, I started a daycare out of my home. The added income helped, but we still didn’t have our budget under control. As fast as I made the extra money, my husband spent it. Ultimately, I stretched myself too thin and I stopped running the daycare to focus on trying to finish my degree.
I felt incredibly discouraged. I felt that maybe if I were to finish my degree that I would finally be “allowed” to succeed in life.
I was hanging in limbo. I knew that I needed to do something, but I’d never felt pushed in one direction. I was always torn between wanting to do well in life, and wanting to go back to school and get my degree.
Something needed to change.
It wasn’t until I read (ok, I listened to the audiobook) Carrie Wilkerson’s book The Barefoot Executive that I heard something that absolutely stopped me in my tracks.
In the book, Carrie describes an interaction with her husband. She was speaking with him about how she needed to go back to school to get her MBA. For her, it felt like getting an MBA would make her a “real” business professional. And in the book, (and I’m probably absolutely butchering this, so don’t quote me on it), her husband asks her will getting your degree make you a “real” business person? Will it make your client trust you more? Will you be able to serve them better? Or is it just to prove to yourself that you can do it?
I was running on the elliptical at the time and I absolutely stopped dead in my tracks. “Is it just to prove to myself that I can do it?” It was like I needed permission to do well. It was like I needed a college degree to feel like I was going to do well.
Right then and there, I decided to get serious about my blog and turn it into a business. Less than 5 months after getting serious about it, I’m on my way to full-time income status!
I stopped looking for permission or validation in the form of a piece of paper. What was a college degree going to do for me at this point? Was it going to give me any more knowledge about my life than I already have? No. Was it going to teach me about how to be an entrepreneur? Not really. With all that is out there on the internet, I can find the answers that I need without needing a college degree.
While I don’t think I’ll ever finish my college degree, I do know that there are 4 things that I’ve learned to help me stop feeling like a failure and start feeling more like a success.
Never stop learning
It’s so important for me to never stop learning. I can know a lot about how to do my job best. First and foremost, my job is to my family. Second, comes my job as a blogger. Neither one of these things will benefit from me having a college degree.
But they will benefit from other people’s knowledge. I can learn all about how to be a stay-at-home/ work-from-home mom through other stay-at-home/ work-from-home moms. And there are so many different resources out there to help me as far as blogging goes. Plus it’s not like there’s a college degree for blogging, anyway!
Don’t be afraid to fail!
Let’s get this out of the way: you will fail. It will happen some time. Whether failing looks like your business going up in flames, or that you left your keys in the refrigerator and were three hours late to a meeting, you will fail at some point in time.
If I had a nickel for every time that I have felt that I have failed, I would be a millionaire. There’s no question about that.
But the reality of it is that when you fail you have two choices: you can either stay down, or you can get up and keep going. Your choices are to learn from your mistakes or wallow in self-pity.
If you can focus on what you can learn each time that you fail, it won’t seem like a failure. Who knows… your next failure could be the lesson that teaches you how to make it in the big time.
Finding your spirit animal… in another person.
If you are trying to be successful, look for other people who are doing the same things that you are successfully. It really helps to see what they’re doing that works instead of trying to figure it out on your own.
No one can be just like me, and I can never be just like anyone else. No matter what I do to try to emulate somebody else and their work, it will never be the same thing.
Another thing that I absolutely love about blogging is that everybody brings their own experiences to the table. It is absolutely wonderful to know that everybody in your niche as a blogger can write about the same topic but has completely different understanding of it and a different story to share.
Leap of faith
I think most importantly though is to just go for it! No one can give you permission to live your life. If you are constantly looking for approval, you will never exceed your own expectations. (And that’s coming from a people-pleaser!) I have constantly felt like I needed validation or somebody to tell me to do something.
Before I bought my subscription to the Elite Blog Academy, I texted my husband and I simply said to him “I need you to tell me to go for it.” Without any kind of hesitation, he texted me back “GO FOR IT!!!” He had no idea what I was talking about, but he knew that I needed support.
Every once in awhile it’s great to have somebody there cheering you on, but you don’t need everyone else’s validation! (Again, this is coming from a people-pleaser!)
“Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is youer than you.” Dr. Seuss speaks the truth here!
It really is possible to be successful without a college degree. I hardly consider myself a crazy success, but I am very happy doing something that I love without having to worry about school debt. I’ve gotten to a point where I no longer think of myself as a failure. I’m really getting comfortable in my own skin. (And that’s a process on its own!) But I am loving every second of writing my own rules for success!
What do you do that makes you feel like a success?
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Can you pay for your grocery bill with your side hustle?
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(PS - NONE of them have to do with sales!)
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