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The UnCollege Blog

How do I explain my decision to drop out to my friends and family?

Conventional advice would tell you that if you plan on dropping out, you need to show people you have a plan and bring up facts and figures about why college isn’t the best path. But if you can explain it to yourself first, you really don’t have to worry what people will think, especially if they love and support you.

Let me be clear – it’s a good idea to inform people about your decision, but you definitely don’t have to justify yourself, as if you are doing something wrong or need their stamp of approval in any way.

The only people you really have to explain your situation to are the ones who are supporting you financially. They have a right to know where their hard earned money is going or not going. It’s important to understand that your parents might have made an investment in your future and although you are the only one who can drive that future, they might be disappointed that you are deviating from the vision they had for you. Think about it – they have been saving for you to go to college for many years. At the very least you need to explain your decision and listen to their concerns.

When you make a decision that feels right for you at this moment in time, you are one step closer to becoming more authentically you. It’s normal for people to slip away during this process and for you to attract new people into your life who understand you better. In a way, I think that’s the point of life: shedding what isn’t authentically you and discovering what truly is you.

Having said that, most people love you for the essence of you are, not your college enrollment status. Most people, after getting over the initial shock that you aren’t following the path laid out for you since the day you were born, really just want you to be happy.

It’s likely that the friends and family who don’t understand your decision simply don’t understand how you could be happy following this path since it doesn’t match their own vision of a happy life.

Now, not to be a show off, but I want to give an example of a true friend who understands me, and my decision to drop out, even if they are not walking the same path. The following is an excerpt of what my best friend Anna wrote me in my last birthday card:

“Even in the face of adversity and when people question you, you are still working in the direction of what you believe in. You are on a road that I think 99% of people wouldn’t dare to take because they are afraid. People will look up to you and be inspired by your decisions.”

Don’t worry, once you begin to thrive as a dropout they will begin to understand and you won’t have any convincing or explaining to do.

And in the meantime you should know Anna and I believe in you.