“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I took the one less traveled by. And that has made all the difference.”
— Robert Frost
You graduate high school, the pressure is on: what now?
The options are endless when it comes to which road to take after high school. Growing up, college is drilled into our heads. My senior year is a blurry memory of filling out endless college applications, ACTs and scholarship forms. Though it costs years of debt for many, it’s usually a no-brainer: graduate high school, go to college, find a career and retire. And, that’s the path I took. I finished high school and went off to a big ol’ university an hour away from home.
Well, what if I told you it doesn’t have to be that way? Or, what if I told you just two short years later I ended up living above someone’s garage in Colorado with no degree?
About three months into my freshmen year of college I asked myself, What do I want? Who am I as a person? I didn’t know the answers. I was going through the motions of classes, attempting to study and finding random parties on campus. But, I was left feeling empty, unfulfilled.
I started to realize I’m on this path because that was the presumed route for people my age. I never once was asked or thought to myself, Is this what I want to do? Do I even know what I want to study? Or what I want to do for the rest of my life as a career?
All these thoughts stirring in my brain and I still didn’t have the nerve to leave school. With feeling so young, being worried about what others would think, and not being able to grasp that there’s other opportunities; I decided to keep going.
For the lucky ones who have known all along what their passion is and what they want in life, college would be the best option. But what about the confused? The ones less fortunate, a family on a budget, or a young adult who never did well with the standardized testing of our education system, but has such high potential?
Take the path less traveled, I promise it’s just as rewarding.
A year and a half into college, I sat down with myself and came to a conclusion: I don’t know what I want out of life and I haven’t discovered myself yet. So, I dropped out.
Though it sounds like a failure, that was the decision that led me to eventually be the happiest I have ever been. I secluded myself from the party scene, realizing I was hanging out with people with no similar interests except to be intoxicated. I had a boyfriend I lived with at the time and we dove head first into soul-searching and self-discovery. We started caring for our bodies as well as our well-being.
We realized we didn’t have to be in the environment we were in. We were adults, free to fly off to wherever we choose. The feeling was liberating, being able to start your life in a new place, free to be whoever you wanted to be. And that’s exactly what we did. We packed up what we could fit in our cars, sold the rest and drove to Colorado.
We didn’t have jobs lined up or know where we were going to live, but we took the chance. That’s the first step, building the courage to just go and having the intent to change your life for the better.
Fast forward two years down the road; I am happily living with my boyfriend in the beautiful mountain state, we are a part of the growing medical marijuana industry and still figuring out who we are as people. This move gave us a chance to find ourselves without the old versions of us to hold us back. We figured out what is important to us, our passions, while also making sure we’re not being stagnant in life. We plan to go back home to Iowa, and eventually back to school, with a clearer mind of what we want to expand our knowledge about.
Not being in college at a young age has given me the chance to find myself.
Even if you finished college (hooray!), embrace the lost feeling of the next step that lies ahead. It is unfortunately becoming harder and harder for future generations to find a career right out of college so take the time of confusion to enjoy the adventures of life you couldn’t do while in school.
It’s okay to take a break from the routine of growing up and just go. Travel to a different country for a week, live in a different state for a summer or hop in the car for a week-long road trip.
I was able to discover my passions, explore different cultures, deal with real-world problems, make mistakes and learn from them. There are many beneficial things you learn in school but living out on your own for the first time, hundreds of miles away from anyone familiar, creates a different type of responsibility and adulthood that you will be forced to adapt to quick.
The hardest part in taking the unbeaten path is listening to your intuition, while simultaneously trying to block out the endless blur of advice from friends and family. Their hearts are in the right place, but we all choose to experience life in a different and unique way. I have never regretted listening to my gut instinct because so far it has treated me well.
Take time to unearth yourself and fill your soul with adventure and different perspectives. Through all the spontaneous road trips, odd jobs and new people you meet along the way, you are re-molded into the human you are proud of and took hard work to be. It takes some isolation, confusion and a little fear, but you come out a better, more compassionate human being than you ever thought possible.