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People around me seem to think that tertiary education is the gateway to all reputable careers in life. If you are enthused by the idea of college or it’s mandatory in the field you choose to go into, then by all means, go! But what about the rest of us who cannot see any path with college in it? This is for you. Be forewarned though, making it may involve being broke for a while — I don’t want to give you unrealistic expectations! This is for those who are determined and driven to create their own way — from the ground up.

When I made the firm decision to not continue school last year, I was all in all lost. The year after formal school finishes for you is the year of experimentation and exploration. You may not make it at the beginning, but there’s no rush, everything happens at its own time. I thought I had an idea of what I was doing but that thought was gone as quick it came. I tried doing online classes, and that worked, but only for a while until I lost all motivation in completing them. I tried to emulate the school system so much that I didn’t realize that that was the reason it didn’t work.  I then became a listener on 7cups — a therapy/counseling site.

A lot of what I did was in the comforts of my own home and I ached to go out and do something constructive. Therefore, I started to walk the dog and took her to dog training classes; these were all building blocks to my eventual dog walking business of which I started in March of this year. I volunteered at the vet to get more experience handling different dogs and volunteered at the local Duke of Edinburgh office for the sake of getting out of the house and gaining experience working in an office.  I then got to train as a tour guide at the synagogue through Duke. While at Duke I got in contact with a local writer whom I currently work with. I was to my surprise, accepted as an Affinity Mag writer. I became a part of a group that aims to create safe spaces for LGBT+ persons and educate their loved ones in Barbados. Most recently I became a brand ambassador for SandCloud, a brand that donates 10% of its profits to saving marine life.

All of these things happened in a span of a year. With most of these happening in quick succession of the other. For the first couple of months everything was moving slowly, if at all, and I wondered if I made the right choice. But I’m glad I did — I did a lot more personal growth in this one year than I ever did while in school. This year is only the beginning of many great and successful years to come. For those who are thinking about or have already stopped formal education, or are taking a year gap, try volunteering, take part in local groups and activities and try to enjoy yourself, instead of worrying about how long it’s taking to get there. Because you will, trust me.

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Sapphire Charlemagne-Gittens

A teenage girl from Barbados that believes we all have the ability to change our reality and the world around us for the better. Even if you're the only one who believes it can be done.

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