Do Something Different.

Just over a year ago things were very different for me. At that point, I had just turned 18 years old and was in my last semester of high school. I dealt with the normal problems high school seniors have. I had constant questions about my future and how I was going to approach the next chapter in my life. I hated it. I didn’t want things to change.

Most of my friends were in the grade or two above me. Because I lived in a college town most of them attended school just up the street from me. It was a fun year. School preoccupied a very small portion of my life. The rest was spent waiting tables, playing tennis, and getting into trouble with friends.

There was a dark cloud looming over nearly everything I did that year. I really didn’t know what I wanted to do. Nearly all my friends were in college. If I went too I knew what I would be doing the next year. It didn’t seem too bad. Not because it would help me. The only reason I even considered going was for the lifestyle people attend college for.

It might’ve been fun. But the real thing pushing me towards attending a college close to home was that it’s what people do. That’s the next step in life for a young student in my position. I didn’t want to be doing something scary and different. Whatever I chose for the next year, it would be the biggest change in my life to date. I wanted that to be as least shocking as I could make it.

The Other Option.

Around this time I discovered Praxis. I had a general idea of what it was and it seemed like it would probably be the best way to spend my time during the next year. But that didn’t have as much effect on me as you’d think. When I told people about Praxis, everyone was stunned. “So it’s a one-year business program?” I didn’t like all the questions from family, friends, teachers, and counselors.

At some point, I really just wanted to be normal. I wanted to go to a normal school that was close to home, major in business and play on the tennis team. That was low risk, it was familiar. I was in the middle of the application process for Praxis at about the same time I was sending my tennis videos to schools. Because I knew Praxis would be better for me, I kept it as my first pick if I was accepted.

But telling people about it was almost like digging myself into a hole. What if I didn’t get in? It’s a pretty rigorous program and even the application process proved to be challenging. It would be humiliating to tell everyone about this amazing program and then not even be able to attend. I mentally prepared myself for that on accident. I started to assume I wouldn’t make it and accepted my normal plan for a normal life. It was a somewhat relieving thing to accept.

How My Life Changed.

Then I got the email. The news from Praxis that I had been accepted and that they would tell me what city I would be moving to in a month or two. I was overjoyed and at the same time terrified. Joy because I knew this was by far the best thing I could spend the next year doing. I was scared because it was so different. Every single one of my friends was either in college or was going to be the next year. Not just that, they also had all been accepted to the same three or four schools. Again, part of me didn’t want to be different.

Fast forward one year. I am now a little over halfway through the program. I wouldn’t trade the last 6 months for anything. I have grown inordinately in every area of my life. I have developed a broad and valuable network all over the country. I have confidence in my abilities and what value I bring to people. I have developed skills in sales through both my business partner and the launch of the local Praxis program here in Pittsburgh.

There have been times that were scary. Whenever you do something different there will be moments where you are uncomfortable. Moments where you feel like maybe you aren’t good enough or that you are too young. Those moments are extremely important for personal growth.

Find What Drives You.

It’s easy to be normal. It’s safe. There’s a guarantee of what you’ll be doing and the type of life you will lead. But is that the most exciting? A year ago when I was thinking about the decision I had to make, I didn’t think for a second about what would excite me. If I was in college, my excitement would be focused on this weekend. Maybe there would be a cool concert or an opportunity to go out with friends.

Right now I have no idea what I’ll be doing or where I’ll be in six months. That’s what I’m excited for. I have some very cool options available to me, but it’s all up in the air. This does a couple things to my mindset. First, it keeps me pumped. I can’t wait to see what the future holds. I know there are so many incredible opportunities out there and I have every resource I could possibly need to explore them all. The other thing it does is it keeps me focused. Every day I work to be as productive and efficient as I can because I’m preparing for the unknown.

Living in a new city, on my own at 19, and working for growing company isn’t normal. It’s not normal and I love it. Other kids in my situation a year ago choose college because it’s safe. For them, college is a time to figure out what they want or just to grow up a little more. I almost did it too.

Break free from what people set as the normal standard. Truly exceptional people don’t follow the normal path. If they did everyone would be exceptional. Everyone isn’t. Most people drag themselves to the next step in life without considering why. Don’t be normal. Find what you want and take control of your life.