The School of Life Has No Diploma

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graduate, diploma, creative, introvert, conform, different, school,I didn’t finish high school.  Actually, I didn’t go at all.

I don’t advertise it.  I usually avoid bringing it up.  It’s not necessarily something I regret or something I’m proud of.  It’s just a fact of my life.

About the time I hit adolescence and middle school, it was becoming very apparent to me that I didn’t fit in.  I was smart enough, top of my class, had plenty of “friends” hanging around, and involved in lots of extracurricular activities.   My teachers seemed to like me and I was in a few advanced classes.  But I felt like a foreigner.

My peers were interested in “hanging out” when I would rather be by myself.  They wanted to go to the movies, I’d rather read a book or write poetry.  The girls were boy crazy, the boys were girl crazy.  I connected with adults and wanted to get inside their heads.  I didn’t fit in with the cool kids, although I attracted the stragglers.

I was never bullied.  Except by that obnoxious boy who liked me and showed it by slamming me into the lockers every time he passed me in the hall.  But I became depressed and it was hard to face school every day.

I tried for a while.  To fit in.  I joined the cheer leading squad which forced me in with the cool girls.  I tried to giggle about the guys on the basketball team.  I hated all of it.  It was so fake.

It was too much.  The halls were too crowded.  Friends were too superficial.  Kids were so mean to each other.  I spent most of my days in the infirmary.  Listening to the Xerox machine hum as the teachers came to make copies, the hall noise when the bell rang, the silence when everyone went to class.  I’d go around to my teachers at the end of the day to pick up my assignments.

I finished middle school at home.

My parents, thankfully, were more concerned for my emotional well-being than my academics.  We began the home-schooling process.  I was more interested in learning to cook, garden, knit, sew, and balance a checkbook than essays and tests.

Long story short, I didn’t get a diploma.  Life became my education.  I was married at 17 and a mom by 18.  15 years have passed.

I look back and wouldn’t change it.  I don’t recommend it, but it worked for me.

I’ve become a life-long learner.  I read.  A lot.  I have a personal library of thousands of books.  I’ve run a business, taught classes, counseled others.  There is no better teacher than experience.

I home-school my own children and learn a lot through that process.  My boy starts 9th grade this year.  We’re in this thing together now.

I started the process of getting my GED last year.  It’s been on my bucket list for years.  I passed all the pre-tests in half the time with extremely high marks.  There was immediate pressure to apply to college.

I didn’t finish the process because it took too much time away from my family.

I’ve come to realize the only reason I wanted my high school equivalent was so no one could say anything about my “lack of education.”  Which is a generalization I’ve held on to.  But getting a diploma is not for me.  I don’t need it.  I don’t really want it.  It’s for all those other people.  The people with opinions.

I know now that there was nothing wrong with me in middle school.  I was just becoming me.  An introverted creative.  Deeply aware of people, driven to learn practical things, and needing to create things with my hands.

I’m done apologizing for being me.  I’m not interested in a diploma.

Maybe you find yourself in a similar situation.  Forcing yourself to do something because someone else thinks you should.

You don’t have to be like them.  You don’t want to be like them.  You are unique, creative, and driven.  Some things don’t matter as much as they say.

You know what matters to you.  Do that.


Do you keep a part of your life hidden because it’s different?  Maybe people don’t understand or won’t approve?  Can you let it go?  Leave your comments here.

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