My Journey Leaving Home at 17

I’ve always been someone with a plan. I want to map out every aspect of my life so I will have a guide to ensure that I’m setting myself up for success. Straying away from it just seemed like a way to lead myself right into failure, but in reality, I wouldn’t be here at Florida State writing this article if I didn’t make unplanned decisions from time to time. 

Graduating early was never something I really thought about doing. I always looked at the kids who decided to leave high school when they were 16 or 17 and wondered why they would want to end their last few years of simplicity and jump straight into adulthood. I didn’t make this decision because I felt I was too good for high school or was eager to jump in to complete freedom. In all honesty, I made it because a lot of my friends who were a grade above me were graduating, and I couldn’t stand the thought of spending senior year alone. Whenever I would complain about how lonely I was going to be for my final year in high school, my friends would always joke and say I could just graduate too. I always laughed because the thought of me completely cutting out junior year, one of the most essential parts of your high school career, seemed outrageous. That was until I found myself picking up extra classes and filling out college applications just a few months later. 

I never really thought that going into college a year earlier was that big of a deal. When I would tell people about my decision, some would be excited for me, but then some questioned if I would be willing to “miss out” on a whole year of high school memories and rush my last few moments of childhood. When people started to ask those kinds of questions, of course, my FOMO started to kick in. I rethought everything. Would I look back and regret not soaking up the four years everyone else has? Would this decision negatively impact me and my future? Being able to attend one of the top public institutions in America and constantly being involved with activities I would have never gotten the chance to experience back home, it’s safe to say that I made the right choice.


Courtesy: @windsorwestern on Instagram

But just because I successfully made it out of high school in three years doesn’t mean that my experience in college is just as easy. Of course, every freshman struggles with the transition from the comfort and safety of your hometown to a place where you’re surrounded by thousands of strangers. Unlike many of the students here, I didn’t necessarily have as much time to prepare for such a big change. While many of my older friends were taking college tours and carefully analyzing what institution or path after high school was best for them, I was still basking in the stress-free moments of my early high school career, not expecting the big changes that were to come. Yes, I do realize that a lot of the stress I experienced throughout this past year was put on by myself and my ambitions to get out into the real world faster than the rest of my peers, but that doesn’t mean the journey I’ve been on is any less credible than those on a more normal timeline. 

One of my biggest struggles since entering college has been thinking about the “what ifs.” Seeing some of my peers who are still in high school, beginning their final year while I’m completing starting over makes me think about what would have been different if I would have just stayed. I’m going to admit, I miss high school a little bit. It’s hard not to be jealous of those who are still in such a structured and “safe” environment meanwhile I’m feeling completely lost and alone at some moments while trying to navigate a new world I wasn't prepared for. But when these thoughts enter into my head I always try to remember that if I wouldn’t have made the decision I did, I possibly couldn’t have met some of the best people in my life so far and explored the multitude of experiences that will ultimately help me grow in my passions. My journey to where I am now wouldn’t have been the same without me entering college at this exact moment. While I do miss my family and all the memories I have back home, I’m still so thankful for everything I’ve been blessed with at this institution and honestly, college is way better than high school. 

So, to answer those who questioned if I would be scared of missing out on high school memories and feel like I’m rushing things, I can confidently say no. High school was a great time and I feel like I got everything out of it that I was supposed to. I’m just moving onto a new path that I’m sure will make up for that last year I “missed out on.” Graduating early is one of the best decisions I’ve made so far. I feel like I’m finally able to develop who I want to be and dig deeper into the things I’m passionate about here at my university. All the worries I had about being an outcast because I was a little younger than the rest of my class quickly disappeared because I realized I’m on the same track as everyone else.

Courtesy: Christian Pruitt

I learned that even the most last-minute decisions can lead to the best things. I’ve also grown to not let others’ opinions steer me in a direction I don’t want to go in. As long as I remain confident in the decisions I make for myself and my future, that will lead me to the success I want. Even though I’m still a little wary of going off the path I set for myself, I’ve opened up my mind to not be so afraid of unplanned changes, especially since it led me to such a great place.

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