The Advice I Would Give My 19 Year Old Self Before I Dropped Out

“I am so tired of school. What should I do?” — A question I answered on Quora

I dropped out because I was sick and tired of school.

If there was any advice that could have prevented me from doing that — it would be…

Making a Vision Board.

Cut things up from a magazine, make a Pinterest board, or compile an Instagram goals collection. ANYTHING. Just create something visually that will motivate you every single day — that you will strive for.

Something that you’ll look at when you’re at your lowest. It will make you remember what you’re aiming for.

Instagram @oneilonreel

In this photo, I just graduated with a degree of B.S. Microbiology in the University of Santo Tomas, Philippines.

You could actually see the joy in my face from graduating and finally finishing school. Behind that smile, 90% of it was “Thank God, my parents aren’t pissed at me anymore!”

If only I could ride a Delorean Time Machine, go back in time, and show this picture to my naive self — things would’ve been different.

The truth is, I was supposed to graduate 2 years ago, 2015. Just imagine all the disappointment, rejections and struggles between those few years.

It was all because I gave up on school.

I had this glorified idea of dropping out, pursuing my passion and just flowing wherever the wind takes me.

I watched too many Ted Talks and interviews. A lot. I really wanted to follow in the footsteps of the people I looked up to, such as Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, Steven Spielberg and many more.

The one thing that I missed with all that knowledge was not having a concrete plan.

Before I went to college, I wanted to make films for a living, but here in the Philippines — that’s frowned upon. The right idea was: be a doctor, a lawyer or an engineer. The other courses won’t guarantee you a good career.

I kind of liked science, so maybe being a doctor would be fine. They say that job pays well and it’s stable. I got to enroll for Microbiology as my bachelors degree, I had a scholarship, and thought to myself — this might not be that bad, Chemistry and Biology was easy in high school.


I ended up being stuck in school, not learning things that interest me.

Throughout my 3 and 1/2 years in college, I was just accepting the fate that being a doctor was good enough. Those years were really the most difficult part of it. I had to pass every subject and maintain a grade because I also had a scholarship to take care of.

I couldn’t care less what the cell division is or if an organism was gram positive or negative. I just wanted to pass and get over it. In my head, I would never apply these things in my life after these 4 years of college..

I was investing my time on learning the things that I wanted, like basic photography skills, history of cinema and how to direct actors and models. Those were the lessons that got me inspired and peaked my curiosity.

Most of the things I learned came from a book, and not from my professor who was just regurgitating words from a book.

Join extra-curricular activities and be around positive people

If you always find yourself burning out in class, a club or an organization could really help. My class was so demanding and my time management was poor, so I wasn’t able to juggle responsibilities.

Having social interactions would have been the most integral skill that you could learn in college, because in life, it’s who you know and not what you know. So keep building relationships and surrounding yourself with people who have goals and encourage you to better yourself.

When I lost track of myself and gave up, I just dropped out.

By far and as of to this day, this might have been my craziest decision ever.

I just passed my Medical Assessment Test for Medical School, everyone was congratulating me. Woohoo!

Deep inside my head, I was already contemplating..

Would I waste another set of years doing something that I don’t fully enjoy?

Medical school would take 4 years, and after that I’m already fully committed because I’d spend a fortune studying it.

A doctor told me, “You won’t survive being a doctor, if this was not something you love.”

With those words I became self-aware, and became confident about my decision.

The next week, I immediately joined a filmmaking workshop and dropped everything during my 4th year.

A stupid decision was made, but it was a lesson that I will never forget.

As much as you hate school, just finish it for the people who care for you. I stopped for a year and re-enrolled the next year just to finish what I started.

Even though I had the freedom to move, the P.O.V of my parents were really hindering me. I didn’t want them to have this burden of their kid being a drop-out. It’s a taboo term in the Philippines or every 3rd world country.

Just Don’t Quit

Find a side hustle, be with your friends, do fulfilling work that will revitalize and recharge you, after an exhausting day at school.

Beginning with the end in mind really does have its perks. So make that VISION BOARD.

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