My best decision: dropping out of college.

- this has nothing to do with photography -

People often ask me what I'm studying, what I'm doing, where I go to school... and I take tremendous satisfaction in telling people that in truth, I'm just a college dropout. 

Leaving school was one of the best choices I have made in my 22 years.

I went to college right after high school because that's just what I was supposed to do, it's what all of my friends did. It was fine, I made some wonderful friends, I learned some things, but it didn't feel real in the sense that I wasn't creating anything that had any value in the world, just papers that got me a grade and were stored away in some folder on my computer or dumped in a bin at the end of the semester. It was unfulfilling. 

My friends seemed unhappy, too. Many switched schools; some were happier, some were not. Not a day went by when I didn't hear one grievance or another about colleges, from the school not extending care to those struggling with mental illness, or victims of sexual assault, to shocking leniency with really awful behavior by groups on campus, all the while relentlessly sucking the money out of everyone's pockets. 

I started getting migraines at least once a week. On the weekends, I just wanted to go home. My classes, for the most part, were not pushing me. We called one of our communications classes kindergarten. I felt, and still feel, that college, and perhaps really all education in the states, needs a significant overhaul. 

So I left. 

I bought a ticket to Germany. I started an internship with the digital marketing team at Esprit. I learned so much, each project had value within the company and the world, I met incredible friends, I was pushed to grow up more, and I felt that I was living real life with intention and meaning. 

All too soon it was over and I realized couldn't go back to school having tasted passion for every single day. So I went home for Christmas and bought a one-way ticket back to Germany. I started an internship in the consumer analytics team at adidas.

I learned about social media and analytics, and the intersection of the two. About engagement rates and posting cadences and reach, impressions and shares... I learned about what management styles work, and some that are toxic, I learned about the importance of being proactive within a team and a role, about being sensitive to the needs of others and allowing them the space and resources to grow. And I learned how fun data and numbers translated into insights can be, and finally, what I want to study. I lived by myself in a beautiful sun-soaked apartment, and I grew up even more. I paid my own bills, I battled German bureaucracy - sometimes I won, sometimes I did not. 

I met more incredible friends, all of them a bit older and wiser than I, and I grew up some more to meet them at their level. On Sundays we meet for brunch, and we've tried every burger joint in the city. We never cease to throw around business ideas, many of which are really stupid. 

I fell in love and I learned how to live with another person and to share life so closely, how to make room for another person to be right. 

I moved into a house by some amazing stroke of luck. I suddenly had two cats that needed attention every single day. A yard to mow, a garden to water, three floors to vacuum. Sometimes I feel that I'm in too deep. Most days I feel blessed beyond comprehension. 

I will go back to school soon. But it will be in Germany, my classes will be in German, and I will study business informatics because now I know what will excite me everyday. Going to school isn't daunting anymore. I'm excited. 

Dropping out of school is one of the best decisions I've ever made, and I wholeheartedly encourage anyone with the slightest bit of doubt about being shuffled from one school to the next, or anyone who doesn’t know what direction they are headed, or anyone who is following a path only because they don’t know what they actually want, to take the time to do something else. Take a gap year and travel. Get an internship or three. The opportunities around every corner are endless; keep your ears and eyes open. Follow your gut. It is so worth it.