At 18 years old, I could have gone into a 4-year university or studied full time at a community college but that is not what I chose. I could have stayed home to work odd jobs around town but that is not what I chose. I could have sat in a classroom at 18 years old feeling pressured and confused because I was unsure of what to get a degree in and spend the rest of my life doing, but that is not what I chose.
I could have sat behind a computer screen, staring at photos, wondering what it felt like to chase your dreams and travel the world but that is not what I chose. I could have just gone to college and studied abroad to get my ‘travel fix’ but that is not what I chose. I could have waited until after college to travel with loads of debt and student loans but that is not what I chose. I could have waited until I retired or found a job that gave me just enough vacation time but that is not what I chose.
Once I realized what I am capable of and how fully funding my travels around the world at 18 years old+ is possible, the whole ‘graduate high school, go to college, get married, buy a house, have kids, etc’ became less appealing to me.
I have realized that I do not have to live my life in the way that is expected of everyone. I wanted something more and once I started traveling I knew anything was possible for myself.
It became such a huge passion of mine that my entire life began revolving around when and where my next trip will be. I knew I could not wait until I graduated college, until I got an office job that gave me minimal vacation time, or until I retired to travel. There was far too much for me to see of this world to be able to wait that long or to squeeze my travels into a small week long vacation every year.
I am not trying to persuade you into dropping out of college to travel. I am not the type of person to tell you that you made a bad decision for going to college or that a college degree is worthless because it’s not. I would never think you’re boring or average if you want that ‘go to college, buy a house, get married, have kids, etc’ kind of life because you are not.
In fact, I admire and look up to all of you for choosing a career path at such a young age, for facing the fact that college will leave you with debt and that getting a job may be a little tough after graduation. I hope that you are really enjoying college, that you’ve made the best friends you’ve ever had, that all these memories you’re creating are something special and that you are having the best time of your life.
I understand that it is becoming more and more important to get a college degree if you want a good, sturdy, and high-paying job. Education plays an important role in becoming successful mentally, financially, and even emotionally. What a lot of people don’t understand is that the real world, traveling and college all educate you in different ways.
Traveling has taught me things that textbooks or sitting in a classroom never could.
I know that college will always be there for me but my youth is flying by and I want to grab a hold of it.
To those questioning if I feel as though I am missing out on that college experience I am not. That was never something I craved. Not in the way that I crave traveling. I am not upset that I was never in a sorority, lived in a dorm room or missed these wild parties that everyone talks about, I know that college is played up to be some of the best years of your life but I am truly living the life I have dreamed of ever since I was a kid. To me, that is greater and more rewarding than anything else in the world.
And you cannot say I am any less of a person for choosing to travel before finishing college. I am not any less intelligent, less motivated, less dedicated to my future and personal success than the next 20 year old because I chose to travel at 18 years old over going straight into college.
From my experience, I have been pushed out of my comfort zone, developed a new confidence, proven to myself that anything you set your mind to is possible, met my own share of unforgettable people that have become life long friends, tried things I never would have if I stayed home, and I’ve immersed myself in Earth’s history, new cuisine and cultures. I know that my decision was what was best for my life and what you decide to with your life is best for you. How pathetic it would be to think that there is a right or wrong decision.
All I can say is that whatever you do I hope that in 50 years you can say that you chose how you want to live your life and you did not just do what everyone else said you had to do.