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Quit School and Travel
It was really nice getting this letter from you.
All I have to say about the results of your final exams is not to worry about it.
Actually, I say, revel in it.
I flunked out of my final exams, too, my first semester of university study. Don't worry about it. It means nothing in the end.
Now I think that you have earned yourself a little time to devolope your character and experiences before you try to make decisions about what and when you want to study. All that "you have to do something with your life talk" is bullshit. People can do whatever they want with their lives. I have learned that there is no such thing as too late.
I once worked on an archaeology excavation under a lady who traveled for twenty years around the world in her twenties and thirties only to return to the USA in her forties to earn her B.A. from Stony Brook and her doctorate from Rutgers. She is now a professor, and does her research in Kenya.
This lady really impressed me and taught me some lessons. She was happy, she lived life as she wanted to. She got sick of being a Goa hippy traveler so she decided to go and get a doctorate degree from a good school.
So I say don't push yourself, take things as they come, and do what you feel you want to be doing with your life right now.
Yeah, I have had plenty of people ask me "what are you going to do with your life" when I was our age. And you know what? These people are still asking themselves these questions nearly a decade later.
I think that the position that young kids are placed in in the USA is absolutely ridiculous. It is stupid to make someone feel as if they need to plan out their whole lives at the age of 18.
When I was 18 I did not nearly know what I do now at 27. I am very glad that I did not try to make life long decisions at this age and pigeon myself into doing something that I may not really want to do.
If I went to school for four years straight from the time I was 18, I would have graduated with a degree in Marine Biology from Florida Atlantic University. I have now realized that I posses little more than passing interest in biology and that I would not have wanted to do the 'work' that is involved in being a biologist. But I needed time to realize this. I needed a little space. I needed to break out and get away.
So I did, and I have never regretted it for a moment.
I know many people who are my age that jumped into their university education, graduated, and still do not know what they want to do. Basically, they never took the time to figure out their passions. They pigeon holed themselves into a life that they do not like living because they never had the space to figure out what really makes them happy.
I think taking a few years off of going to school is good. It allows for that precious development that can only happen when someone is on the brink of becoming an adult.
I say ditch the pressures of the scholarship if you are not into it and enjoy your young life. Be wild, have fun, make big mistakes, make lots of mistakes, do the wrong thing, screw up, and learn about yourself.
I think this is the most important thing that someone can do.
I am glad that I gave myself some time to float around a little and dabble in many different pursuits. It sort of showed me a little of what I am made of and what makes me happy. And I think that happiness is all that matters.
Regardless of what anyone says you can always go back to school, change majors, rearrange everything in your life as much as your heart desires to. You are never stuck. You can never really fail.
So I say be happy that your finals went the way they did and do what you want to do today.
When I was 19 years old on my archaeology field school in Ecuador there was an old guy there named Harold. Now Harold was the excavation photographer, and he really just sat around all day sharing wisdom and a joke now and then. He was 50 something years old and worked for 20 years in his youth as a air traffic controller. Then one day he got sick of it and went back to school. He took a masters degree from Harvard, and now he just sits around the Harvard library reading books
That is what makes him happy.
And this guy was a genuinely happy person.
Well, one day we were eating lunch together, just me and him, and he turned to me and asked me how old I was.
I told him that I was 19, and he laughed as he said, "Kiddo, you are young, there is everything under the sun out there for you."
He was right. So I pass these words of old Harold of Harvard on to you. They are true. There ain't no dead ends out there, just paths that go every which way always making unexpected turns and ending up right where you thought they would not.
So just walk slow and enjoy yourself.
Have fun in Mexico.
You are there now, right?
Eat a guaro worm. Buy a nice big hat.
P.S. If this information helps you out at all (or if you just appreciate my effort in trying haha) I would love it if you could tell or email a friend or two about Vagabond Journey.com and/ or the Song of the Open Road Travel Blog. Thank you!
Go to School or Travel?Hi!
Comment from Bob L:
Some random thoughts...
""All that "you have to do something with your life talk" is bullshit""
Well, no. And yes. In my humble opinion.... You give truly great advice, advice I wish I had had when I was young. I am one that followed the "do something with your life" talks and took mostly the easy roads I was luckily presented with. Then took some advantage of the easy life to do things I had wanted to do. Doing the things I wanted to do was mostly because I got some advice like yours. BUT the statement "you have to do something with your life talk" has lots of merit, just not the kind that most people who say it may have intended. It would be better to say "You have to do *something*" and leave it at that, but that is not complete either.
You did *something with your life*, you lived it (are living it). I have seen young people too often stagnate and do nothing. They are living pretty much the same life at 25 as they did when they were in high school. And by 35 they have no real life at all and maybe never will. Frankly, that is what I probably would have done had I not listened in part to the "to do something with your life talk". More young people need to hear you say "you have to do something with your life" in the manner you told Amanda. Because, really, that is what you are saying. Get out and do something. Make mistakes. Do the right thing. Think different thoughts. Don't waste opportunities. When you are young, you can adapt and correct your direction to suit you. The only thing I would change in what you say is that you must think about the future and plan for it. Not in detail, not a life path plan, but think about what kind of person you want to be when you get older. Do you want to be someone who has been working at the same boring job for 30 years? Do you want to be a mean miserable person? Do you want to be healthy? Think just a little about what you are doing with your life now and what direction that is sending your growth in (physical, mental, emotional etc). Too much partying will make you grow in a poor direction. Too much work will make you a wage slave, too little will make you lazy and worthless even to yourself. A good balance in life is the most important, and elusive things to achieve. In the end only you can decide if you have *made something of yourself*.
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