where should we be?

the idea of college has been ingrained in my mind since i was in the womb. it’s been an expectation and somehow i’ve been lucky enough and worked hard enough to make it a reality. coming out of my first year at school, i’ve realized that college is great. especially my college. brown is an amazing place. i love it, i truly do. i’ve changed in ways that were unimaginable to me a year ago. brown has given me a lot already and i’m only a quarter of the way through.

that being said, college makes me nervous. i’m young and i’ve got a lot of things on my to-do list that don’t include visits to the library. most of my to-do list is filled with adventure plans, book plans, and of course the overall plan to keep this kind of childish duende that makes me so excited for the many opportunities that are hurdling my way.

i have a goal. it’s farfetched, extremely open-ended, and it might be fleeting. my goal is to refocus. my goal is to revisit this idea of being human and reinterpret the meaning of success. success has looked only one way for as long as i’ve known the word: a big house, lots of money, a nice car. success has been the american dream. as a child of babyboomers, i’ve seen the american dream take hold and manifest itself in a lifestyle that is hard to say no to. it’s a lifestyle of security and certainty. but what i’ve learned is that this lifestyle, as enabling as it may be, has forgotten a lot of things that i find extremely important. it has forgotten how to be simply human and has focused on how to be monetarily prosperous. i’m down with the good life, don’t get me wrong. i’m just thinking that i might have a different path in mind for myself. i know i have something else that’s ticking inside of me, and it can’t just sit at in cubicle and work for 8 hours then to go home to frozen potstickers and minute-maid lemonade. it wants to run wild, rampant, and ridiculously free.

a lot of my friends are feeling this way too. my friend dropped out of college after his first semester. he realized that college was not the place for him. he got claustrophobic and had to leave. he travelled. he went to australia, got really into a new kind of lifestyle and is a more engaged person for it. another friend of mine had the same idea. he was not at all enthused by his college world and felt it was keeping him down, stuck in a life he was hoping to move forward from. he had to leave. he went to south africa and worked with a community there that has literally changed his life. he’s a different kid. he’s a much more aware person. these are two of my friends that got stuck in the gloom of the library and had to get out. once they did, the light in their eyes returned. this isn’t for everybody, and i personally love the library, but for them, it was exactly what they needed. and now i’m looking for exactly what i need.

before i go on, i want to say that i realize i am in a unique position. i am extremely fortunate and grateful that my parents have brought me to where i am today. they have worked tirelessly to give both my sister and i what i would call an amazing childhood and a great start to the life i hope to live. i would be nothing without them. but i do think my life is going to be a bit different from theirs.

so, where am i going with this? well, i was roaming around online, stumbling about the web as i normally do, and i came to a New York Times article called ‘Forgoing College to Pursue Dreams’ by Caitlin Kelly. it covered quite a few students who realized that college can be a limiting space and decided they had to leave. most of these students are 20 or younger (that’s me). These students are Thiel fellows. i just found out about this program: it encourages people, namely young people under 20 years old, to step outside of formal education and explore ideas that excite, inspire, and drive them. Thiel Fellowship “reward[s] young people for forgoing college to dive into practical work on ideas.” what could be more exciting? the ideas of the Thiel fellowship is something i thought could only happen in a dream. college is a great place, yes, and it offers endless opportunities, yes. but it also takes time. it takes quite a bit of time that could be spent doing other things. it seems like the Thiel Fellowship takes this idea to heart: if kids could spend time doing other things, what would and could they be doing? that’s a pretty spectacular question to ask, and these kids have given them so many answers.

i’m not sure where i’m going with this now, but i just want to say that the Thiels Fellowship is an amazing opportunity. as for my next steps, i have a lot of thinking to do about the road i’m going to take with my education. traveling and exploring will be just the start of it. i’ve still got my stories to collect, and however these stories want to present themselves is however i will take them. i just need to tune in a bit more, focus on what is good for me, and begin to sketch out success looks like. i’m sure the frozen potstickers will make an appearance and a cubicle is bound to be thrown into the mix. i’m ok with that. i just need to make sure that i keep track of where i want to be, where we should be, and how we’re going to get there.

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5 thoughts on “where should we be?

  1. Great thoughts, yes I can testify that it’s good to think deeply about whether you want all those loans or not, I’m not sure it was worth it for me, but everyone is different :). Good luck

  2. College is not for everyone. But the Thiel fellowship (named for its founder) is not for 99% of students either. The challenge is what’s possible instead that offers sufficient credentialing to get well-paid work. I don’t think college is the only place to learn, very far from it. Nor is it the best place to learn how to operate effectively in the world if you’re not devoted to acquisition and material success. There are many paths. It takes a lot of energy and self-awareness to step off the conventional path and make it work financially.

    • i absolutely agree, thank you for your comment. education can span far beyond collegiate classrooms, but college can also be exactly what some people need. it is exciting to see what education can mean for myself, as well as my friends. there are many paths, and i believe one’s passion comes through in the energy and self-awareness it takes to do what one believes in.

  3. Pingback: The (price of) the unconventional life | Broadside

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