Over the past few weeks, I have been spending more and more time in the offices of my professors at my new school. I have been in this school for nine weeks now and in those nine weeks, the only friends that I have made are double my age. I had a few things to work out with my major and schedule, so I went to one of my professors who offered to give me a direct study for his terrorism class (more on that in a late post) since it had been canceled, and it turned into me coming to his office to talk to him and his assistant about many thought provoking things. He pointed me to another professor who he thought I should talk to about a philosophy minor, who I ended up talking with for a solid forty-five minute about my dreams and aspirations.
The same day, I ran into one of my other professors (who is the hardest professor in the school apparently) in the hallway and she told me that she feels that I should add a few more areas of study because she feels that I am not challenged enough. She pointed me to several staff members who she thought I would get a lot out of speaking with. I ended up chatting with one of the professors she mentioned and spent a great deal of time talking about my passions and he pointed me to another couple of people who would help me reach my goals.
One thing that each of these professors had in common was that they wanted to know about me. They wanted to know where I am from, where I want to go, and how I want to get there. If you know me, you know I love talking. I loved that people genuinely wanted to hear what I have to say. Not one of them criticized or questioned (in a negative sense) the untraditional path I plan to take in life, but every single one of them applauded it, which is not something most professionals do when I talk about I want to do.
One of these professors, who know me much better than the others since I am in his class and turn in 2-5 pages of personal reflections each week, said something to me that really struck me. He asked if my friends are like me or if I have difficulty relating to my peers.
Honestly, I have such a hard time relating to my peers, which is pretty awful since I just want to have friends. I am totally okay with hanging out on my own most of the time, but sometimes I find myself wanting to be a normal college kid who hangs out with people my own age, but I have such a hard time making friends. Don’t get me wrong, I do have a couple of really great friends that I do connect with over common values and interests, but unfortunately they are all in college between a four and thirty hour drive from me.
Even though my friends are all going to go out in the world and do amazing things, all of my friends are going to college with the intentions of graduating and either going to grad school or going to work. My plans for the future are not so traditional.
First off, I am majoring in Global Studies and specializing (minoring) in Philosophy and Literature. When I tell people this, they automatically come back with a pitiful, “oh…what can you do this that sort of degree?” Their faces tend to drop when I tell them that I do not really know what I can do (or even what I want to do) and that I am going to travel for a few months then do mission work for a few years until I figure it out.
“But how will you pay for that? What will your future employers think of you not working for those years? That’s really nice, I guess, but is it realistic?”
I just give these people a pitiful look back and say “I am not made to work a 9-5 the rest of my life, be caught in the cycle of wake up, work, sleep, repeat, and forget to actually live my life.”
I do not want to be fifty and look back at the previous thirty years when I was younger and fully able to explore and adventure, and realize that I wasted it in an office that I hated with people that I hated, all for a paycheck and maybe a nice car. I will not submit to this human construct we call society that tells me I have to use my “intelligence” to get rich. My intelligence has a much better use, and it will be to change the lives of others. I will make things happen. I will be the vessel of positive change.
I am not wasting my potential. Period.
Yesterday, I spoke with a girl in one of my classes who turned nineteen last week. I asked her about how her first week of nineteen went and she said that she was having an existential crisis. She said that it occurred to her that she was going to graduate then will be working the rest of her life and did not see the point of living if it’s just going to be work, work, work. I told her nobody is forcing or telling that she had to do that and she answered with a very sensible reply. “My parents are telling me I have to.” I told her that this is a time when it is okay to break her parents rules because in a few decades, she’s going to be much angrier at herself in a couple of decades for settling for her parents’ expectations than her parents are going to be in the immediate future.
Every parent wants the child to be successful, but not every parent has the same definition of successful. Some parents want their kids to be rich first and some parents want their kids to be happy first. My parents were a little resistant to the whole “be a nomad and travel before getting a job” idea at first, but now my mom is much more receptive and my dad does not seem to care either way. They realized that my mind has been made up and there isn’t much they can do to change it.
I do want to make something very clear. I do not want my life choices to be confused with laziness or a way to get out of work. I am working very hard right now to ensure that I will be able to do these things in the future. I make a decent amount of money nannying/babysitting, I have absolutely no debt from college that I will have to pay off thanks to scholarships, and I am working hard on some side projects (including blogging) that may very well turn into sources of income that will continue to provide when I am not working a “normal” job that pays. At the end of the day, I know God will always provide where I fall short.
My parents will not be funding my travels; it is all me. I am incredibly proud to say that. I am incredibly grateful for the situation that I am in, especially going to school for next to nothing (and my parents picking up the extra couple of hundred dollars each semester so I can continue to build my savings). I plan to make something huge out of the opportunities presented to me. I know God will always provide where I fall short.
I want this topic to be a dialogue. I would love for any feedback or advice from people who broke away from what was expected from them or took an untraditional path. I would love to talk about our dreams, whether they are common or completely different. Please feel free to comment or to reach out to me on any platform on my contact page.