When I was in high school I wanted to go to film school. Ultimately this didn’t happen for a number of reasons.
Whether or not that was a good thing really depends on how you look at it. The reason I wanted to go to film school was because I was interested in pursuing documentary filmmaking as a career and thought that going to college for it would provide me with the best opportunity to succeed.
I graduated high school at 16 during a time where my family’s financial situation was certainly less than stable, if not desperate. With my high school tuition being comparable to four years at an Ivy League school, I didn’t feel right asking my parents to also fund college.
I decided to take my life into my own hands and instead of going to college, I moved 2000 miles across the country and went to work. Over the years that followed I gained experience in numerous fields and encountered some fantastic opportunities. Instead of learning in an academic institution I learned from hardship and my own mistakes.
Over the years I had a lot of experiences, some good, a lot of them bad. The fact remains that I wouldn’t trade them for four years of film school.
I grew up sheltered, in a perfect world with nice cars, nice houses, good friends, good food, private schooling, loving parents, etc. If I had gone to college that pattern would have continued. I would have never learned how it feels to be on the rocks. I would have continued to be comfortable and entitled. I wouldn’t have understood sacrifice.
In order to live an understanding life, get ahead and make a difference, I think it’s important to have personal experience with both sides of the coin: desperation and exaltation.
Does this mean I think it’s a bad idea to go to college or don’t think you can gain valuable life experience by doing so? No. I simply think for myself it would not have allowed me to become the person I am.
I know that I have created the life I’m living. This gives me pride for every success and responsibility for every failure.
In the end, the choice I made when I was 16 resulted in the life I have today. I think the biggest reason it made such an impact for me was because it was a radical change of plans that vaulted me into the unknown. This forced me to learn faster and work harder than I ever had before. Radical change has a way of doing this to a person that nothing else seems to.
My words of advice: if life is getting comfortable, make a change. Do something that scares you. Don’t do something just because it’s acceptable or advisable.
Do what you think is right because in the end the only person you’ll have to answer to is yourself.