the reality: I am NOT happy to be in school right now. I constantly feel out of place and like I do not belong there, with longings of something deeper and more fulfilling at my fingertips, waiting for me to take the leap of faith.
Whether I like it or not (at present, it's NOT), I could stay in school full-time. Maybe at Liberty University, but who knows? Maybe I SHOULD transfer to Belmont. Either way, I'm in an extraordinary financial situation and would be a fool to give it up. But the definition of "cost" is skewed here. Maybe school is payed for, but truly at what cost? Not just $xxxxx per year. With the decision to stay in school, I am accepting unhappiness, indecision, lack of a specific vision, frustration, and lack of motivation, but at LEAST I get that piece of paper that constitutes better financial security down the road. Awesome. Is that what life's about? Sure, if a wife and kids are involved in the future, I would need and want to be able to support them. But that is also through the goggles of American standards of a "good" life. I don't think I am in tune completely with the American standard of living. Don't get me wrong; I like my belongings, yet I feel like if I had to, I could sell them all tomorrow and still be just as happy. I am not saying I am against the concept of college. I would just rather do it when I knew I was going for a very specific purpose. Right now, that does not exist. I am interested in a genre of life, not an exact career with the matching degree. The only kicker then is, should I just swallow hard and just do school now, since I have the financial security and not be passionate about it at all? Or should I do what I think is right and not accept the "safe" way that everybody takes at the sacrifice of personal convictions?
I could take a semester off. From there, who knows whether it would turn into another semester off (aka a complete "dropping out" of school until further notice) or returning back to full-time (or part-time) in Fall 2010. With this option, I'd have some time to really recharge and work on some things I've been wanting to work on more intimately for years now: writing more lyrics, writing more music (of numerous varieties), recording my music, visiting family more, reading a LOT more, exploring spirituality more, traveling both nationally and internationally, going camping, going bike riding, meeting new people, performing shows, visiting friends more, etc. I understand these are all in the "fun" category of life, but I guess I lucked out then with my choice of passions. You can call me idealistic, foolish, ignorant, or whatever else. That's fine, but I think people who give up on their dreams and goals for sake of financial security and the "safe" and "comfortable" route are the foolish ones. So sue me if I want to take some chances. And again, I'm not saying I never want to return to college. I'm just saying I need a break to hone in specifically on what direction I want to go. For my interests, there are about 15 different degrees I could utilize. Maybe more. The cons of this scenario? Pretty heavy unfortunately. By completely taking my foot out of a college institution's door, I'd literally have to go through the entire application process again, risking acceptance back into a program. I'd also "cross the threshold" legally of student to adult according to my parents, which would mean I truly would be on my own in EVERY aspect of life: personal health insurance, personal car insurance, personal cell-phone plan, rent, food, utilities, gas, auto-upkeep, etc... It would be 100% independence, and yes that's exciting, but it is a daunting reality for a 19 year old. What's crazy is that I think I'd be up for taking that step if I decided to go this route, as I could afford nearly all those realities with the job I have right now (minus health insurance...guess I'd have to rough it and tough it out until further notice). So this option is pretty gloom and doom logistically on the surface, however, I know I would be completely happy and satisfied with my then-present state.
Another thought that hit me the other day was an interesting possibility. My parents said they'd be up for it, but I'm not sure if I am fully on-board with this proposition, even though I was the one who formulated it. Backing up, one of the many points my parents have brought up is that I have to take into account my surroundings. I'm currently living in a bubble of people that have either already graduated college, dropped out of college, or are finishing up college. Naturally, their lifestyle is attractive to me and no doubt influencing my way of thinking. I am not going to be so blind to deny this reality, but I don't know if I'd go so far to say it's THE deciding factor behind all of my current thoughts. I've had my dreams and aspirations way longer than I've been in Lynchburg. Nonetheless, as a remedy to that possible hinderance to my life or way of thinking right now, I could take a "breather" semester by removing myself from Lynchburg, moving back up to NY, taking just one course (a make-up one that I got a zero in over this past summer: purpose to not take my foot COMPLETELY out of the college door, preventing that "crossing of the threshold," not forsaking my educational financial set-up, and getting the zero off of my transcript), and interning again at FLM to experiment some more with multiple aspects of the music and creative world, though it'd be in a different light than maybe what I'm looking for. I'd get to study under Darren, my long-time mentor who I greatly appreciate any time spent with. I'd also get to live at home, which would be incredible, although it would be a love-hate thing. Obviously, I'd love to spend time with Mom, Dad, and Ryan!!!, but independence wise, I don't know how it'd be going from where I am now to back into a house with parents. haha. Anyway, I'd also be closer to certain Northern friends like Josh and Maggie, and I still wouldn't be unbearably far from Greg. The cons (seems like it'd be hard to find any, right?) would be a little different. Yes, I'd get a "break" from the downtown Lynchburg way of life which, yes, is a hindrance to one trying to be a student, but I'd also extremely miss Lynchburg, all the friends I've made here, the incredible apartment I'm living in right now, being close to my brother John, the local artistic and creative community, the independence, the weather, etc. I also don't know if by doing this option, I'd fill the gap that is causing the degree of emptiness and misdirection inside of me right now. hah. I know by saying that, it seems like spiritual depravity would be more-so the cause of that, and honestly, I'd say that's probably accurate. Either way, that aspect of life is one of the many that needs attention right now, and I think I'd rather just stay in Lynchburg and work on that here. I repeat yet again, however, that I'm not against college; I'm just not ready, yet, for it! I've had four very different semesters, presently working on the 5th, and nothing has worked 100% so far. On a completely different note, as far as this compromising option goes, I don't know if I'd even be ready for the "experience" I'd get with a semester at FLM. I am a WHOOOOLE lot of talk when it comes to things I want to work on, yet how often have I followed through. I need to actually DO what I'm talking about before I focus on other areas of training and execution of my "talents." I feel hypocritical doing something like that when I haven't even taken the personal time to work on these things, which I could hopefully achieve by not being in school right now.
Pretty much the root of all of the educational indecision is money, which is dumb. Again, the American measure of success and comfortable living is greatly different than what humans NEED to survive and be happy. Not saying having things is bad, but it doesn't HAVE to be the goal. I have a nice car, a huge tv, wonderful keyboard, sweet apartment, etc. Obviously, money buys some sweet stuff, but, as my mom often points out, it usually just causes more problems than it solves (like this WHOLE situation right now). There are people out there that search for different purposes in life like Peace Pilgrim
or the moneyless man in Moab, Utah
. I realize those are both extreme examples, but are their messages not inspiring? Food for thought.
And, whether it's a low blow in this argument or not, I have to do it:
Every day, I feel like following through with a different option. As of right now, though, I'm leaning more and more to option 2: The Alternative. I feel like that option is the most true to myself. And if loss of self is required to be "successful," something needs to be seriously reconsidered. One of my favorite quotes is from an essay written on the definition of success. There is controversy over the origins of the quote as it was mis-credited to Emerson in the early 1900's, but regardless, it goes something like this:
"To laugh often and much, to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children, to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends, to appreciate beauty, to find the best in others, to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch, or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded!" EMERSON
Also, a quote from Peace Pilgrim:
"Out of a feeling of deep seeking for a meaningful way of life, I began to walk one night through the woods with the feeling that I would continue to walk until I found what I was seeking, and after I had walked almost all night, I came out into a clearing where the moonlight was shining down, and I found myself saying, "If you can use me for anything, please use me," and I found myself feeling, "Here I am. Take all of me. Use me as you will. I withhold nothing." And then, of course, I felt I had found what I was seeking. I experienced complete willingness, without any reservations whatsoever to give my life to something beyond myself, but then I discovered that there is a big difference between the willingness to give and the actual giving. In my life, 50 years lay between." PEACE PILGRIM