I get asked about school a lot, like, what school I went to, and what I studied, etc etc. I get asked advice about these things as well, basically the same questions but with “should I” instead of “What did you.”
It’s hard to answer this question because I dropped out my Junior year of High School. And, at the time, I really didn’t know if it was going to work out.
Of course, I had the notion that I will work hard to make it work, but I was still scared and afraid of what will happen to me. The idea of college would always electrocute me periodically those few years, bringing with it a surge of anxiety and a “should I” that I never asked anyone specifically but myself.
I tried my hand at writing for scholarship contests — you know, just in case — and I got a couple letters back telling me I made the cut and was put in the running for the contest, but what the hell does that mean, right? Apparently one of my essays made it into a book. I don’t even know if that exists.
I suck at writing, basically.
Regardless, I always knew what I wanted to do, I wanted to voice act. That is, that’s what I convinced myself.
It’s not really what I wanted, I mean, I enjoyed it a great deal, but it’s not something I burn up about. It’s not something I rush home to get out of me when the inspiration hits me. It never really was, if I recall. It was something that was “safe.” I liked practicing it, that was a plus, and I was good at it from the start. I mean, my first couple years of it were laughable (not intentionally) and embarrassing, but I got better really quickly, and I thought I was ready to become a professional.
I moved from South Florida to Los Angeles with the intention of immediately getting some voice over work, but a wave of apathy struck me. I can only describe it as that because I felt nothing else that would normally hold me back. I mean, I wasn’t afraid, I’ve done professional work before, I’ve done studio work before, and I knew I was good enough, but I just didn’t seem to care enough to go out and do it again.
I tried to explain it to myself in my head for a while, that, well maybe it was something else, because I was so invested in this plan. I made a commitment to myself and to the people around me that this is what I was going to. I didn’t want to let either one down.
When right under my nose, my true passion was being ignored.
My whole life, I’d created stories, drew characters and always had a reason to. Whenever I drew someone new, that person HAD to have a story. They had to have a purpose. I wasn’t just drawing to draw. I never understood the people who could just paint some girl, or some scene. It always had to have a story to me, and that carried on from when I can first remember until now.
When I realized that, it all made sense.
I felt what you would normally feel about your passion, the fear that I wasn’t good enough, that I wouldn’t succeed. I’m never satisfied with my stories, my characters, and my ideas, but I keep doing them… for no reason other than because I wanted to. It’s not practice, it’s not preparation, it’s something I have to do, and that, to me, is what you feel about the thing you’re meant to do.
I dropped out of school with the idea that I knew what I wanted to do, but I was scared because I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I had this idea of what I would make money doing, but the rest of my life was intimidating because I didn’t know what it would bring. That is, I was absolutely willing to plow the way to make the money, pay the bills, but I was in no way willing to plow forward for a true ideal, a true message. A reason to exist, not to survive. I knew what I wanted, but I didn’t.
It took life to make me realize this. Loss, confinement, loneliness, sorrow, rebellion, redemption, exploration, joy, and reflection. I didn’t learn any of this in school, and neither will you.
If not for all of these things, I don’t think I would’ve finally made the realization. I probably would’ve let what I thought I wanted rule my life. Maybe I would’ve let someone else’s influence change that even further. I dabbled in massage therapy and graphic design, in case voice acting “didn’t work out.”
My conflict of how to answer the “school” question comes from the idea that there’s always the fear of failure and that dropping out of school is a very risky move. But, when I reflect on who I was and think about what I am now, I wouldn’t have made the choices I made if I WASN’T scared and lost. I wasn’t ready for the world right out of leaving school. But, you know what, nobody is, even after finishing it all the way through.
School will teach you what you want to know. Business, Law, Art, Biology, Medicine, or whatever. Maybe it’s the best way to do so. But books will too, and so will aggressively seeking out those willing to teach. But this is all under the assumption that you care.
School will not answer your questions about who you want to be. No school teaches inspiration, or hope, or true emotional passion. You will fail if you let yourself fail. School or no school.
What school should you go to? What classes should you take? I think instead you should take some time to find out a little about yourself first, before somebody does that for you. Maybe even a couple of years indulging in what you think you may want to do. College never goes away, but the rest of your life does.