My Guidance Counselor Said That I Was Not College Material

I'm writing this for anyone who has ever been told that they were not good enough to succeed in life, especially those like myself with learning disabilities, social anxiety or an inability to fit in with the others. I know that this is mostly a garden blog, but it's fitting that I share this story since I wouldn't have even become a gardener or a writer unless I was first a failure.
Always make time to get better at what you love..
After all, I was not college material in the first place; at least that's what my high school guidance counselor and a few well-meaning teachers told me. Maybe they were right. After all, I was so shy that I could barely speak to other students, and was labeled 'slow' due to my ADD. The other kids called me a freak. They called me stupid, and only a few of my teachers seemed to see my potential. But I graduated from high school (a year late) and went to college anyways. Against my art teacher's advice, I majored in voice; not because I thought i could sing for a living, but because the few friends I did have were in chorus and were also becoming voice majors. I wasn't a particularly bad singer, so what could go wrong? Well, for my first judged voice competition, I choked. I could not sing. I could not make a sound. Knowing that I had failed, I cried in front of my friends and made a fool of myself. But I was persistent and tried majoring in something else that I loved: Writing. I lasted for a semester, before realizing that what I REALLY wanted to do was be an artist. But to make money, I was told that I had to become a graphic designer. So I applied to the UNF graphic design program and against all odds, was accepted. I'm not really sure how I made it that far, to be honest. I nearly failed algebra for the third time because I was "unteachable" and "impossible". I skipped my classes to avoid social situations. While other students were learning how to become artists, I doodled and wrote in my sketchbook. I memorized all of the plants on the campus nature trails and landscaping. I read the textbooks from front to back, yet failed tests because I couldn't memorize specific dates. I dropped out, barely a semester away from graduating. I had blown all of my money on things that I can't even remember, and my full-time job wasn't enough to pay the tuition. Realizing that my high school guidance counselor was right all along, I accepted a promotion to co-manager at the bookstore. By the way, I'm pretty sure that I was terrible at that too. But I kept studying, writing and drawing. I planted a garden for my mom, learned everything I could about plants, and started a gardening blog to serve as a creative outlet where I could continue studying, writing and drawing, but on my own this time. Even though I was apparently "unteachable", writing and blogging have made me a teacher myself in some respects. I was a terrible student. I couldn't turn in my homework on time and was actually pretty lazy, to be honest. Still, I have since completed many assignments as a freelance photographer, designer, editor, illustrator, and of course, blogger. I even ended up writing a book! I may have been lazy as a student, but have worked my ass off in pursuit of the things I love. Despite the social anxieties that made me an outcast, I've since given presentations, have been interviewed on radio and television, and will even be presenting at the Fall Jacksonville Home and Garden Show on October 1st and 2nd. (See you there!) I am still very shy to this day, but I will talk your ear off about nature, illustration or writing. My goal is to eventually reassure kids though my writing and illustration, but if nothing else, I hope that my challenges have encouraged someone reading this right now; whether you're successful in life but feel unfulfilled, or like myself, have been told that you are not college material.

I was considered 'slow' and graduated late from high school. 
By now my point is hopefully pretty obvious. Keep drawing. Keep cooking. Keep programming, studying, gardening, writing, researching and doing. High school and even college, while valuable, are not nearly as powerful as your own drive to learn outside the classroom doors.


  1. That was a great story, and I'm glad you shared it. High school life can be torturous for many and schools only teach to the mainstream. It goes to show that everyone can succeed. They must find what they love to do. Wishing you much continued success and am happy that you discovered your path sooner rather than later.

  2. I smiled at your woman writing in the closet because that was me pounding away on an electric typewriter in the pantry with a freezer and the A/C unit as background music.

  3. Great--and honest--post. Good for you for never giving up. Dream big!


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