Dear Ms. Behaved,
I recently graduated high school and my parents want me to go to college. College isn’t for everyone, and I’m not interested in attending. I’m young and haven’t decided what I want to do with my life, so I’d like to take a couple of years to see the world. However, my parents refuse to give me the money they set aside for college to travel. They saved it for me; what difference does it make what I do? I should be able to do whatever I want with it! I know I‘d learn far more living on my own in Europe than I ever would at college. How can I convince them that I am old enough to make my own decisions and live my own life?
– Feeling Stuck
You’re right, college isn’t for everyone. There are many people who have become extremely successful without going to college. Those people set goals for themselves and worked their asses off to achieve them. The language you use in your letter doesn’t covey that level of independence and drive; it reeks of immaturity and entitlement. When I read “…I should get to do what I want with it!” I pictured a spoiled child with their hands on their hips, stomping in defiance.
You want to travel the world and find yourself? By all means go for it, but don’t expect your parents to pay for your extended holiday. Put on your big girl pants, go get an entry-level job, save for about four, five, ten years or however long it takes to sail off into the sunset on your world tour. OR you could show some gratitude to your parents for planning for future and providing you with a free ride. Do you have any idea how many people drowning in student loans would trade places with you in a heartbeat?
Personally, I would not give you a penny of that college fund, and I would charge rent and utilities as long as you remained under my roof. You want to be treated like an adult? Well Darlin’, start paying your own way. That’s what grown-ups do.
If you are not ready to start college yet, approach your parents and ask if you can have a semester off to get a taste of the real world. Take initiative in finding a job and show some responsibility by handling your own expenses. My guess is you’ll come to your senses and realize what a sweet, generous deal your parents are offering you. Don’t wait too long! They may decide to spend the money on a trip around the world for themselves that they actually worked for and deserve.
You said you want to find yourself. What better place to do that than a college campus? Take some different classes and discover what interests you. Study a foreign language, look into what it would take to get into the Peace Corps and plan on seeing the world that way. Perhaps if you work hard at your studies, your parents might be willing to fund a summer trip. You can research your options to study abroad. There are all kinds of volunteer programs out there that could take you to different parts of the world, but you’re going to have to do the legwork to find them. There are so many options open to you now, but those same options may not be there if you only have high school diploma.
I believe with all my heart that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. Make a plan, roll up your shirt sleeves (that’s old people speak for get to work), start setting goals, and accomplish them one by one. There is a huge world out there for you discover, you just need to take the individual steps to get there. Your parents already laid out the path by settling you up with a college fund, now all you need to do is get up off your privileged ass and start walking it.
Jonna is here to help you over the mid-week hump every Wednesday. Send your questions about love, relationships, life, and grabbing life by the balls to firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more of her posts here.