It was the end of tenth grade and I remember it being a Wednesday the day I sat down in front of my parents and told them I was ready to not go to school anymore. I was playing with my awful sweaty pinstriped collar, made from some rubbish polyester blend, when my father said “I think that’s a great idea! Why didn’t you come up with it sooner?”. I obviously looked like I was in shock because next my parents asked me if I was okay. I told them that I’d be just fine and ran off to tell the world.My friends at school didn’t believe me when I said “I’m leaving school to travel and dance”. But they sort of had to the week after when I was just never in class. And so the farewell gifts and cards were sent home.
The next few months were filled with dance performances across the country, in ancient temples and on mountain tops. Now when I think about it, all I did was dance…Until I felt this growing need or urge or desire to do more. To see more! I decided to set dance aside for a while, wrapped comfortably in some corner of my mind, and feed this growing ‘thing’ (I still haven’t figured out what to call it. That thing that starts to bother you when you feel like you’ve done anything too much for too long?) inside me. I fed it SCUBA diving, trekking, theatre, underwater modelling, poetry, art, cooking, photography, film; seasoned with lots of strange new faces that taught me how to see the world differently through their eyes, and landscapes that made me feel smaller than a single grain of sand.
It’s not easy to leave institutions behind. It really isn’t. Especially when your friend’s mother is looking you straight in the eye and telling you “You’re not going to college?! You left school and now you’re not going to college??”. She thought I was crazy. “You need to beta. Everybody needs to..”. What would you say to that? I wanted to say there is no “need to”. But I didn’t.
I’m not saying “Everybody should leave all institutions!! Yaaaa”. Why would I? Some are great. Some people enjoy a set curriculum and even do superbly well. But if you’re not some people, then don’t be afraid to explore other options. Talk to someone. That’s what we’re all here for.
I promise you that you will feel lost sometimes. Without a system, without a course to follow, without the friends you’re used to seeing everyday. There will be days when you’ll feel SO lost and confused that you won’t know what to do with yourself. But those are the best days. Because you come out of that confusion with new found perspectives and the grass is greener than ever before and it’s beautiful. So take a year off…maybe even a few. Get lost in the weirdest corner of the world and feed your mind with the richest food found in the farthest fields. There’s no other feeling like it.