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This morning as I was scrolling Instagram, a new post from Humans of New York came up. The latest photo is of a woman who is looking at the camera as she sits on a park bench.

“My mom had her own issues, so I was never really parented,” reads the little paragraph of description that Brandon Stanton, the photographer behind the project, writes to accompany every photo. I have been following the project for years now – another look into the everyday lives of Americans in one of the most famous cities in the world. I loved the raw stories that people would share – and it opened up secrets that people watching can’t give you – words. Emotions. How everyone really, at the end of the day, is looking and wanting for the same things. Today, there was one sentence that I reread over and over:

“I’m sensitive about my lack of education. I don’t have a degree or the sense of entitlement that comes along with it…Ironically, my husband and I have a lot of friends who are authors, or professors, or film directors, They’re all very educated. I just never had the chance.”

I had the chance then? More than her? I am “educated” if she means what I think she does – seeing that she talks about not finishing high school.

But what did I learn in high school that would make me define myself as “educated” and her, a woman that was intelligent enough to take a teenage passion and get herself set up in the world without help? The sense of entitlement, I understand. I used to have it when I graduated – I deserved a job. I did what I was supposed to do – so where were all the open positions that would want me? I was scotch taping my resume onto office doors.

Sidenote: If I was educated in the way of an author (as she believes these artists that she knows have been) I would be making a LOT more money than I am now, and probably would have a few books out. I can say that in all four years at a really expensive school, no one ever taught me how to be an author. A few taught me how to write, sure, but my journals certainly aren’t going to jump off the desk and publish themselves – and no one even mentioned what comes after getting words on the page – or where you should go if you want to be paid to write them.

Laura, her name is, could probably teach me more about life than most of the people that get a “proper” education. She is more educated than me – seeing that she has her business off the ground, and I am only early in mine – because instead of working on building something successful, I was working on “getting educated” so I could do that success stuff after – I mean after paying back all my loans of course…

But I am maybe more educated than her – because I got to travel and live in other countries during that education, and I found people and places that deepened my knowledge. There were those few teachers and professors that helped shape who I am – and I give them so much credit for being passionate about education. But if you ask me what I actually learned from them – it wasn’t dates or numbers. It was life – and that doesn’t need a classroom or a diploma.

If I start another idea around this topic I’m going to go into the Latin base word meaning and then continue onto so many ways that the definition behind educated can be interpreted. At most, I just know that Laura shouldn’t be ashamed of her lack of four to eight years locked in one regulated way of thinking, just hoping for a “good” teacher. The world is changing and the answer of a diploma is fading and hopefully soon, we’ll be judged for our real education, not the definition Western society gave it.

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