Does “wandering” prepare storytellers better than education?

I am a planner. This should come a no surprise to anyone that knows me, but to those who do not, every activity during my day is planned down to the hour if not the minute. I have a tedious calendar on my phone, which syncs to my computer, and both are color-coded to my planner. Yes, I do sound insane when I put it that way, but that is just how I’ve found I am able to function with two and a half jobs and a full course load. In short, according to society, I am doing everything right. I pay attention to my credit score and savings account, I went to college after taking the ACT as many times as it took to get all of the scholarships needed to pay for my degree, and I even have a plan to pay off the debts that I do have. So why as graduation crawls closer and closer (194 days, but who is counting?) do I seem to encounter more and more people and stories of people who are successful outside of a degree in the field that I want to be in, and had no intention of ending up in my dream position? For example, Natalie Fobes, an unbelievably successful photographer who had no intention of becoming one. She has worked for National Geographic, and is the winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the Scripps Howard Meeman Award and the Alicia Patterson Fellowship. Now, just for fun, she’s dabbling in portrait photography, something that I do on the weekends to make ends meat. However, she was a bit of a wandering soul at my age of 21. So here’s my question: is all of my planning holding me back? Most would consider me successful for my age. I am involved at school, am on the deans list, have studied abroad, and have a growing portfolio (that I obsess over) that just recently grew to include “photographing President Obama.”


So, will I be as successful as I hope to be just because I didn’t fall into a passion, but that I knew from a young age that this is what I want to do with my life? Call it the “senior jitters” perhaps, but this fear has been in the back of my head for a while.

I have a friend, let’s call him Joe. Joe is an incredibly talented videographer and script-writer. He started out at Marshall University in 2013, my sophomore year. He excelled in journalism classes and at his internship with a local film company. The following summer, after some fall out with friends and family, he moved to Germany, where he filmed and wrote, and cultivated his passions. All at once, a little under a year later, he reappeared with hardly any notice. During this time, he visited me at my apartment in Huntington and we talked about life and “finding ourselves” and careers. A few months later, he enrolled at the University of Kentucky where he planned on studying medicine (like his family wanted him to), but took an internship with a film company there and excelled there as well. Fast-forward a little bit, he couldn’t stand the medical program, so, he moved to Colorado. From there, I haven’t been entirely clued into the details, but his camera and laptop were stolen. Poor Joe. Next thing I hear about him, he has moved to Colorado, his profile photo on Facebook changed to a photo of him on a cliffside overlook. As far as I know, Joe is living in Colorado, working for the postal service and gets to hike and adventure on his days off.

I envy him, obviously. The question is, will he be more prepared to tell stories for a living by living stories, than I will be from a college education? I’ve come to the conclusion that in many ways, we’re equal and entirely different at the same time. It is like the saying, “apples and oranges;” to compare the two is to compare two completely different people and lives, and that is not fair to either one of us. I chose to believe that passion and drive are what really make or break careers. It’s not about the specifics of how a person learns, whether that is in a classroom, or on the road. I don’t regret going to college; I think this was the right path for me, and I think Joe has chosen the right path for himself. To not follow after our passions would be the real problem.