I DROPPED OUT OF COLLEGE

I'M A COLLEGE DROP OUT

 FULL TIME ENTREPRENEUR

AND SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS OWNER 

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HERE'S MY STORY....

When I reflect back on this lifetime, and the experiences I've created to bring me to exactly where I am now, here in this moment, it usually seems to appear that "my story" started at 18 years old when I embarked on a five month long voyage to the Seychelles Islands. I graduated high school 6 months early in my senior year (doubled up on classes, took tests early, completed necessary requisites for graduation) and packed my bags in February of 2012 to leave the small town on Long Island, New York where I had spent a majority of my last 18 years. I traveled with a group called Global Visions International, and could not imagine a better trip possible. It was everything I wanted, needed and more. I experienced independence for the first time in my life. I felt more alive than ever before. I was diving daily, working in the ocean, enhancing my skills underwater, studying coral reef preservation, working with others, meeting interesting people from all around the world and not spending 5 days a week in public school for what felt like the the first time in my life.

I spent five incredible months traveling throughout the Seychelles, both on my own and with GVI and flew back to New York a changed woman. The most difficult part of going home, back to New York, was knowing that I would have to begin my first semester of college in Miami in just a few short weeks. The nice part was that I made it back from the Seychelles just in time for my high school graduation and senior prom. 

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When the time finally arrived to move to Miami, I packed my life into two large suitcases and moved from my childhood home in New York to attend my freshman year of college. I had big expectations for college. I wanted everything I had seen in the movies and more. The social scene, the partying, the intimate late night library sessions, the handsome professors, the dorm room set up, the dating, you name it. In my eyes, Miami was going to be this ideal college utopia with the perfect balance of ocean time/night life that I thought I so badly wanted. I was going to be studying marine biology and imagined I would be spending more time on research boats, on the water and in the sea than I would in the classroom. I quickly learned this wasn't the case. I had difficulty connecting with the students at my college (over 80% of which were in-state students who had already developed their group of fellow-floridian friends,) and spoke barely any Spanish, which made connections with many of the cuban students at my school quite difficult. On a last minute whim, I decided I would "rush" for a sorority at my college and use this opportunity to make friends and connect with other woman on campus. Soon enough, I was a "sister" in Alpha Omicron Pi sorority, and spending weekends with my sorority sisters doing all of the college-experience things (football games, parties, sleepovers, beach parties, study groups etc.) that I had dreamed of doing for months. I absolutely adored the girls I connected with at college, and owe them infinite love and gratitude for making my Miami experience as wonderful as it was, but all along, I just knew something wasn't there. My needs were not being met at this school or in this environment. "I think I need to transfer schools," I told myself. But I didn't know when or how I would bring it up to my parents. I ended up flying home for Christmas break that semester and enjoyed a few weeks at home re-connecting with family and friends in the area. I loved being back home and spending time at the house, sitting, relaxing, reading, being with my family. The more time I sent at home, the more I dreaded the idea of flying back to college in Miami in a few short weeks. 

I had two days left in New York before I was expected to board my plane back to Miami and begin the spring semester. I was sitting at the breakfast table with my mom and dad (which is a rare occasion, considering my parents have been divorced since I was a young child) and took the opportunity to express to them how I was feeling about school in Miami. "I just can't go back," I told them. "Something doesn't feel right. I'm not happy there. I feel like I am wasting my life." My parents were caught off guard and confused by my words. They had heard stories of me making friends, joining the sorority, exceeding in my classes and falling in love with spin and pilates at the student gym. I ended up having a bit of a melt down and practically begged my parents to please let me take a semester off from college to organize myself and apply to new colleges, where I would enroll as a transfer student. Soon enough, I was boarding my plane back to Miami, only to spend 20 hours in my dorm room packing everything up, and then hopping on the next flight back to New York, without even having the oppurtunity to say goodbye to the few friends/girlfriends who I had bonded with while at school. 

I LEFT COLLEGE IN MIAMI

So that was that. I left Miami and found myself back in my small town, living at home, working part time at a retail store during the day, and part time as a hostess for a local restaurant in the evenings. I was saving every penny I could and applying to new colleges to attend in the upcoming fall. All along, I had my eyes on the prize. The only place I could imagine myself being truly happy at school was in Hawaii. I had talked to my parents about applying at University of Hawaii when I was in high school, but the tuition costs were high for out of state students, and the fact that I had never once been to Hawaii...ever before.. seemed to make them take me a little less seriously. This time around, however, I wasn't taking matters lightly. I applied to the University of Hawaii and was accepted before I even approached them about my idea. "This is it." I told them. "I will do anything I have to do to make this work. I want to go to school here. I know its right. I can feel it." And by some miracle of the universe, my parents, who absolutely dreaded the idea of me being 5,000 miles away from home, agreed. I was to attend college in Honolulu in the fall. I couldn't have been happier. Everything was falling into place around me. I was getting out of New York, and better yet, embarking on a new adventure to pursue a lifestyle that served my own wants and needs. So of-course, I did what any 19 year old with a one-way ticket to Hawai'i would do, and threw a killer going away party with all of my best friends in New York. I've attached some photos from the beginning of the night below. I'll spare you photos from the end of the evening.. ( Disclosure: For those curious, I am sober from all alcohol now. And single-use plastic cups at bars too. I'm sober from those as well.) 

NOW BACK TO COLLEGE...

I MOVE TO HAWAII

My first year living in Hawaii on my own was one of the most difficult and rewarding years of my life. It wasn't easy. I'll make that very clear. I was fortunate enough to receive financial assistance from my parents as I struggled to work part time, attend college part time and try to maintain some what of a social life in Honolulu. I was living in a literal shoe box apartment that I somehow managed to share with another roommate. Looking back on it now, I honestly don't know how I did it. My apartment was so so so small and so so so expensive. I was attending school part time, while I worked towards earning residency in Hawaii. When I first made the move, I began to work at a dive shop where I would spend 5 straight hours filling tanks in the back of the store, barely seeing the light of day, in exchange for $11 an hour, and the empty promise of being able to jump in on a few free scuba dives each week. I had to be at the dive shop at 6 am to fill tanks before their 7 am dive, which meant I was on my Walmart bike, headed to downtown Honolulu at 4:45am before sunrise to make sure I made it there just in time. That job was hectic. I lasted about one month. After that, I began nannying full time, selling my second-hand bikinis online, and eating $2 smoothies from my NutriBullet blender for breakfast, lunch and dinner most days. I was balling on a budget, to say the least. But I was making friends with young people from new parts of the world, learning how to surf, spending time outdoors, eating well, exercising, dating and loving the independence and slow lifestyle that my new environment had to offer. It was exactly what I wanted and everything I needed. The hustle felt good. I was working towards something. I was driven, determined and fitter than ever before - thanks to the fact that I could absolutely not afford a car (or parking) and was biking around Honolulu 7 days a week to commute to both work/school.

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I DO THE COLLEGE THING FULL TIME

The next year, I was granted residency as an in-state student and began to attend college full time. I moved into a new shared home, closer to campus and was living with two of my best friends. I cut down on work hours and doubled up on classes. I was really doing it now. Classes five days a week, late night lectures, Saturdays spent in the campus library, and Sundays saved for spending time outdoors... or catching up on the homework that I didn't finish the week before. I was training for a marathon, diving into veganism and transitioning to a plant based diet. I felt great. Healthier and more alive than ever before. I began hosting 21-Day Vegan Challenge groups on Facebook where I would challenge friends online to eat a vegan diet for 21 days and share photos, recipes and food-diaries of the new foods they were enjoying along the way. I was still studying marine biology at school, but began to notice my passions evolve and transition towards holistic health and environmental conservation. My best friend, who I was living with at the time, had recently graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition, and was now working as a private holistic health coach offering consultations with online and in-person clients. I was intrigued by all of it. The work, the clients, the side income. It sounded incredible to me. Exactly what I wanted.

I was beginning to finally get a grasp on my school work and found myself left with a few hours of free time throughout the week. With each passing week I became more and more passionate about natural medicine, plant based foods and promoting a message of long term well-being through food and lifestyle. I knew that studying holistic health would be perfect for me. My intuition told me "yes." And so, I enrolled for IIN on a payment plan and began studying online for ~5 hours a week or so in-between college courses and babysitting gigs. Juggling all three was manageable for me because I was so interested in the work and curriculum that IIN had to offer. I was determined to create a beautiful, fulfilled and interesting life for myself. And I knew I was on the right path. 

 The more time I spent studying at IIN, the more time I spent considering changing my major at college. Of course, I was still passionate about marine biology and conservation, but my entire world seemed to revolve around plant based nutrition and studying holistic health at this time, so it only felt appropriate. My biology, chemistry, math and science courses at school were beginning to feel like a burden. I struggled to maintain focus in class and was often journaling, recording my health journey and taking notes on newly learned nutrition information while sitting in organic chemistry class. Overtime, college began to feel like this repetitive chore that I didn't like doing. I knew I needed to mix things up. I changed majors from marine bio to human nutrition and was not at all impressed, to say the least. The curriculum was outdated and biased. So biased. I would spend my evenings at home studying the benefits of a plant based diet, mediation, natural medicine and low-stress lifestyle and then sit in lecture halls the next day being spoon-fed (brainwashed) information on calcium in cow's milk and the evolution of pharmaceutical drugs in the US. It felt like a sick joke to me. I couldn't believe this type of information was still being promoted and repeated to myself and my other classmates. At times, I truly believed that 90% of the information they were teaching me in "health" class was wrong. I felt agitated and disappointed in class. More than once I stood up abruptly and made it a point to publically walk out of my leture hall when the professor began speaking about something especially irrational. 

I STARTED TO DREAD COLLEGE

Once I realized that the change in major was not my solution, I began to feel overwhelmed and out of balance.  I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did and tried to organize these thoughts and emotions in my head. Why did I feel so unfulfilled and low energy? Why did I wake up in the morning dreading my upcoming day of college classes and lectures? Why was the information I was being taught at school so outdated and non related to what I wanted to actually be pursuing in my life? Why was my potential career in holistic health being determined by test grades on subjects that were entirely non related? Why was I beginning to have nightmares? Not sleep well? Feel unproductive and uninspired when I wasn't at school? I was miserable. I had never experienced this type of confusion in my life ever before. I was suffering from anxiety for the first time ever and felt so unsure of my path. I felt disconnected. Detached from my own hobbies, passions and interests while I was on campus. I felt ashamed to admit this to my parents, and even more ashamed to admit it myself. Was this really happening again? At one point in my life, getting a college degree and taking a photo with my cap and gown, draped in fresh flower leis and surrounded by smiling faces was all I cared about. I grew up in a working class family with two older sisters and two parents who both graduated from college and grad school. My parents made it very clear to us that the reason they worked as hard as they did was so that their three daughters could have the opportunity to graduate from college as well. And that’s exactly what my two older sisters did. Now here I was, living thousands of miles away from family, attending my second college as a junior and completely reliant on my parents and student loan offices for any source of money I had. And to top it off, I was thinking about dropping out of school for what? I didn’t even really know what for, to be entirely honest. 

I decided I needed to make a plan of action before I would feel comfortable making any drastic changes. I had just recently graduated from IIN and was officially a certified holistic health coach. It truly felt like the only thing that was keeping me going. I would endure long days at college, being fed information that did not resonate with my interests or goals, automating myself and my efforts in school to "get by" in class just so I could speed-walk home from campus and eagerly work on follow-up emails with the few health coaching clients I did have (a majority of them from the facebook challenge groups I had been running for the last 2 years.) IIN helped me to make my first ever website and inspired me to create this blog to share more of my story and document my transition to a plant based lifestyle. I bought my own domain on Squarespace and was determined to build the blog as much as possible while I sorted my life out on the side. At this time, Instagram app was evolving and becoming more and more popular. I started @SaltSandandSmoothies Instagram account and was fascinated by social media and the idea of building an online community of health conscious individuals. I started publishing blog posts, instagram posts, daily facebook statuses and reading as many books on personal development and entrepreneurship as I possibly could (You can find a list of some of these books and more here.) I felt as if I was experiencing stability and clarity of mind for the first time in months.I felt driven again. I wanted to pursue health coaching and blogging full time. I hadn't felt this sure of anything in my life. When I was at school, or sitting in a college lecture, I felt as though I was living inauthentically to my higher self. Like a fraud, I had put on this facade for years and was finally ready to rip off each individual layer of suppressed boredom and unhappiness. I needed a change. I had to start living life on my own terms. I had to remove myself from my current situation and begin to write my own story. I just needed to figure out what my "end goal" was, and how to eliminate any road blocks standing in my way. Immediately, I recognized that sitting at college campus six days a week was one of them. 

FOLLOWING MY INNER GUIDE

Three and a half years ago, I sat on the porch steps out front of the shared college-house I was living in and cried (*hysterically*) to my father over the phone. I didn’t understand why I felt the way I did and tried to put into words felt how unfulfilled and low energy I felt. Telling my parents that I was considering leaving college (again) was one of the hardest things I did. But as difficult as it was to first speak aloud, the moment I did, I felt like my entire energetic being had been lightened and lifted. Once I told my parents that this decision was something I had thought about and meditated on for months now, there was no going back in my head. Never once did I worry I was making the wrong decision for myself or my future. I was so trusting in myself and my intuition. And now that I look back on this time in my life, I appreciate all over again how thankful I am that I was so confident in these weeks. I was in balance and in tune with my inner guide, which always ensures that you're being carried in the right direction, whether I was really aware of it or not. 

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Once my parents adjusted to the fact that I would be "taking a break" from college (as many people in my life often referred to it,) it felt like things really set into motion. I'd like to be a strong example for fellow students or college students in this blog post and tell you all that I finished my junior year on a really positive and productive note, acing all of my exams and completing all of my end-of-the-year assignments, but I'm going to be very transparent here and tell you that I very quickly stopped attending my classes and spending that last ~5 weeks of my semester sitting on campus using their high speed internet and getting clear on my intentions with my work. Soon enough, I used the money I had put aside for next semester's tuition and bought myself a ticket to Bali, Indonesia with my best friend, Lacey. We both enrolled in our first ever 200 hour Yoga Teacher training and planned to fly out within the next week. We left for Bali and had an incredible, educational and abundant summer. You can read all about it here.

LIFE AFTER COLLEGE...

Although life sometimes felt chaotic, and all over the place at this time, it felt energetic and upbeat as well. No matter how unexpected or out of the ordinary my situation got, there was always this lingering sense of freedom that I couldn’t shake. I was really doing this. I was breaking free from a story book of my life being told to me by others and committing to myself. Committing to my own happiness. My own passions. I could breathe. For what felt like the first time in years. I was creating my own future with each step I took. Each odd job after college, each month living paycheck to paycheck, each conversation or first date where someone asked me “what do you study at school?” or "when did you graduate?" all taught me the lessons that I needed to be learning to make this freedom sustainable for the long term. 

I continued to offer one-on-one health consultations and brand myself/market my company through social media full time. I told everyone and anyone I met about the work I offered online and offline. I began to teach occasional private yoga instructions to students who attended college with me. I wrote guest blogs to other health conscious/environment inspired websites for as little as $100 and took nannying jobs as often as I was offered. I began to clean local yoga studios in exchange for free membership and reached out to the Institute for Integrative Nutrition to become an ambassador their school. I studied books on manifesting money and welcomed multiple streams of income into my life with open arms (even if those streams of income were small, measly trickles of income to start.) I found ways to create a living for myself while also enjoying my life. 

Since then, my business has taken off. My personal goals for my work and my brand have evolved and elevated. Taking the initiative to invest in myself and my own passions was the most necessary and effective step I could have taken. I am a successful entrepreneur, business owner and six-figure earner. I am a college drop out. I am a dreamer. I am a visionary. I am a square peg in a round hole and I am here to remind you that the only person who should tell you what or how you should be doing anything in your life is yourself. You are the creator of your own reality. No one else. When you are blessed with the gift of waking up each morning, you decide how your morning/day/week/month/year will unfold and evolve. You are in charge of your own life. No one else. You are worthy of love, fulfillment and greatness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

You are worthy of immediate and lasting happiness. 

 

As am I.

Hope this blog post resonates with many of you in some way, shape or form. Although all of our paths appear different to one another, we are all moving towards the same goals. Fulfillment of heart, mind, body and soul. You are not alone in this life. You are not reliant on any one or thing other than yourself. Your new chapter begins today. 

Go with love

Go with Intuitiveness

Be well

Be easy

X
Amelia