My name is Taylor and the last year and a half has been a roller coaster. I started a blog that hit a million visitors in a month and wound up working full-time at a startup years before my peers would even graduate college. But a roller coaster has ups and downs, and I consider myself lucky to have come out on top. Here’s my story:
Freshman year of college was a blur.
I just went through the typical motions. Surrounded by peers who seemed perfectly happy to walk around aimlessly from party to party had me wondering…what was wrong with me? I tried to be happy, but that’s easier said than done when you aren't comfortable with yourself and have no clear idea of what you want to do in life...or even next week.
Two semesters passed and I knew something had to change. So I made the most drastic change of all – I dropped out.
My heart beat out of my chest as I picked up the phone to inform my family that college was just not for me. My dad finally warmed up to the idea once I told him that I had found UnCollege, an alternative program that seemed to fit the type of exploratory, proactive education I needed.
At UnCollege, I went from a wandering college dropout to an independent, proactive learner. I lived in San Francisco with thirteen strangers and learned skills that I had yearned to get out of college, but never did. My time in San Francisco was both motivating and challenging. I worked internships where I was the youngest person in the office. I struggled hard to develop my writing and developed a fashion-centered blog that would eventually grow to over a million viewers in a span of just a few months with a solid fan base. It was this side project that impressed people and created opportunities, but it wasn’t my main focus. The whole thing was a real whirlwind of excitement, but the biggest takeaway from my time in SF is the growing up I did in an environment that expected me to live and act like an adult. Uncomfortable at first, I soon felt that indescribable feeling of growth like I had never felt before. I discovered that living outside my comfort zone forced me to adapt, to grow. I learned that every setting in life – no matter if it’s a street or an office or a classroom – can be a place where you learn crucial skills. The world became my classroom.
Before heading off to San Francisco, I had never spent time outside of my hometown. I didn’t have much self-confidence and the feeling of isolation and loneliness was near unbearable. My time in San Francisco, living and learning among young entrepreneurs and playmakers, unveiled my passion and a drive to succeed. What my family and my teachers had once encouraged in me was now on fire inside of me.
After 3 months in the city by the bay and with the right mindset and a determination to drive myself farther outside of my comfort zone, I headed to Spain. Living in a town with a family of four that spoke only Spanish was humbling, terrifying, and the best experience of my life so far. I was alone in my travels, and that gave me a lot of room to think about who I was and what I wanted. My writing became important, and as I wrote, I developed interests in fashion, startups, feminism, gay rights and immigration.
I felt a passion grow inside me that had never been there before. So three months later I took another leap, and moved to my dream city, the Big Apple. Despite the fact that I had come a long way personally during my travels, I was flat broke when I arrived and had to find a way to fund my dreams. I took up work as a nanny, waitressing, anything that could keep me in the city that inspired me the most. Again, I found myself in a new city with no friends and no knowledge of the sprawling metropolis that was Manhattan. But for the first time, this didn’t faze me. It excited me. I had done this before.
One year later, I find myself still in the city I love, but things are different. I have a full time job at a global company. I feel stable, not only financially, but also emotionally. Gone is the anxiety and the numbness of just “moving through the motions.” I move forward with confidence that I am living to my truest self and constantly strive to achieve my fullest potential. This isn’t to say it still isn’t a bit scary at times, it is, but now I have both experience and confidence to define my life, weather the challenges, and achieve my goals.