I’m Going Back To School

In order to deal with my commute, I took the advice of my girlfriend’s father and found some really good podcasts to listen to. While podcasts rock, I also was browsing iTunes and found that there were foreign language lessons for free on there as well, so I downloaded some lessons on Czech and Russian.

What does this mean? Well, I talk to myself in the car anyways, so at least I’m being productive and learning something new. It also probably means that I’ll need to take an extended traveling tour at some point to use my languages learned.

This post was inspired by Leo Babuta’s Zen…

(This post was inspired by Leo Babuta’s Zen Habits post: http://zenhabits.net/chaos/)

I’ve got younger cousins and acquaintances who are enjoying their last summer as “kids” before they head off to college. The decision, more than likely, has already been made about when, where and how each 17/18 year old is going to spend their years in college coming up. There are literally endless brochures and tours you could go on as a late- adolescent about to leave the nest. I’ve managed to forget or block-out a lot of my life pre-20’s, but I do clearly remember checking out and visiting colleges.

Student to faculty ratio is important, as is cafeteria dining options, as are dormitory availability, athletic facility accessibility and career placement. Each would be listed on a sheet with vary grades of importance listed besides them. I wound up picking the cheapest school with the best relative ranking in the country (relatively).

2 years later, I was burnt out on drinking, partying, fighting and letting my body and mind turn to shit as I floundered in the suburbs of South Eastern Massachusetts. I was miserable and of the mindset that I was locked in, no matter what, to my decision of where to go to school. I couldn’t afford a more expensive school, I couldn’t afford to move to the city, I couldn’t transfer my grades. It literally felt impossible to make a move and set myself straight.

I felt lost. I had made a very scientific decision to go to the best school for the lowest amount of money possible and it wasn’t working out for me. The school I decided didn’t have any particular allure to it over the other schools. In fact, there was a school in NYC that I got into that I really wanted to go to, but chose not to because of its price.

Turns out, I transfered to a school in Boston that was even more expensive than the school in NYC that I chose not to attend. Ironic.

But, I wound up in a pretty big city that I had no roots in and no bearing on. I was in over my head financially, took 3 jobs to afford my life plus an ungodly amount of student loads for tuition and rent. I went from my slow-paced suburban school life to a 100 mph life in the big city.

It was exactly what I needed – to throw myself in the deep end.

I got to study abroad, my grades went through the roof, became a man, fell in love, fell apart, felt failure, self-doubt, incredible enthusiasm and confidence and set fourth on a much better life overall.

People pushed me to take risks and it enabled me to risk everything up until this very day of my life for love, health, happiness and well being because I knew that laying everything on the line was my only option and that I was free to fail but also free to be happier than I’ve ever been.

I don’t wish any undue stress upon anyone. Just like how I am a strict enemy of the “hard work for hard work’s sake” motto. I’m all about picking the right path first and working smarter at finding happiness and success. However, not everyone’s so clear and self-aware at 17 or 18. Sometimes you think you want something and discover it’s absolutely not for you. Sometime this pattern perpetuates itself for a lifetime, or sometimes you can quiet down the world’s noise for a moment and listen to yourself.

Humans are resilient, physically and mentally. We can adapt to our surroundings and excel against adversity. There’s no better feeling than to immerse yourself in something totally new with the freedom to fail and learn and discover yourself.

The argument can be made that the ROI of college is and will continue to be in decline, but regardless of that being true or not, the choices and next steps you chose to take are always a chance for a new beginning and growth. If it’s college, Americorps, volunteering abroad or just traveling solo, the push into the “adult” world that you receive when finishing high school is one of the last times you’ll have a collective bit of momentum at your back – take advantage of it and land where the wind takes you.

It’s funny, at 27, I’m not sure that I’m warranted to write a “when I was your age” post, but seeing all of these people in my life set fourth on a new journey just made me feel the need to write all this down. Feel free to flip the page now 🙂