OHBD 2015

OHBD 2015

Monday, July 18, 2011

Dropped Out of College, Moved to Europe, And Found Some Answers . . .

When I completed my second year of college, I had to face an ugly truth. I wasn’t going to be a doctor. I didn’t have the grades . .. not even close. Academics had always come easy to me so this was quite a blow. But worse than that, I did not know what I wanted to pursue instead. I thought smart people became doctors. Or at least knew what they wanted to do.

I frankly hadn’t give much thought to what other possibilities there might be. I was following what I thought was a defined path. Hitting this type of brick wall was not something I anticipated. Since I was paying my way through school, all I knew at this point was I didn’t want to continue without knowing where I was going. I felt lost and confused. "Who was I if I wasn’t the good student? How was I going to make a future for myself without a good education?" What did I even want to do . . .. or be? These questions dogged me.

At the time, I was working as an assistant to the director of my modeling agency in Michigan as my summer job. I learned I could build up my portfolio and get good experience in Europe. I had always been the awkward one growing up. Being acknowledged for my appearance was a welcome change and a bit of an escape from the rigors of college. I found I enjoyed the non thinking part of modeling.

With the naiveté of youth, I decided to drop out of college and move to Europe. I could pursue modeling there full time. I had illusions of grandeur including how impressed everyone back home would be if I was wildly successful. In the deeper recesses of my mind, although less acknowledged, I hoped I could somehow figure out what I wanted to do with my life. When I returned to Denver for a visit to my parents at the end of the summer and announced my plans, they were shocked and less than pleased. As a parent myself now, I can better appreciate their reaction than I did then. At the time, I thought they had no right to have an opinion since I was footing the bill.

I originally planned to move to Hamburg after spending a brief time in Holland. My folks are from the Netherlands so I had family and friends there. But after making the rounds to the modeling agencies there and feeling quite lost with my limited German, I decided to stay with my people and signed with an agency in Amsterdam. I did get the occasional job for a print ad or modeling a designer’s new line for prospective buyers. But mostly I got time to think and just be.

"Who am I? What do I want to be?" There was something about being where everything was unfamiliar that provided me more clarity. On long bike rides across the flat Dutch landscape seeing fields of tulips like those pictured, I considered what I enjoyed and what I was good at. I thought about what I wanted out of my life and my career. I always knew deep down that modeling was not a long term option for me.

As I passed the infamous girls of Amsterdam in the windows on my way to the agency, I knew they represented much of what I did not want. Instead, I sought success as I defined it including the ability to control my own destiny. I realized being with people I cared about and who cared about me made me truly happy . . .not chasing the elusiveness of fame and fortune. Europeans are generally better than Americans at savoring the simple pleasures like a great conversation, a perfect meal or a well brewed cup of coffee. Their slower pace and example helped me focus my priorties and breathe.

When I returned to the United States about a year later, I had a few foundational elements to build my path upon. In challenging situations since, I use lessons I learned during this time. The path to clarity for me often lies in changing everything familiar, looking at my life from a different vantage point, and confirming what is true and good.


  1. Your words have inspired me. I truely believe that this fast paced lifestyle isnt good for building any sort of foundation. People in america have lost their sense of what it is to have value and be traditional. I live in New York City, the place where alot of people have came to make something different and establish their dynasty one way or another, capital of the world, and yet i still find it hard to decide what i would like to do. Ive been around the globe (as a tourist) and Europe has always been my second home away from home. My family there is rich in both spain and italy (not financially) but in every other aspect. They have it all together and live great. Im an american my parents are Ecuadorian immigrants and i was born and raised in Jamaica, Queens NY, last born child from my mother first and last from my father and one of the youngest in my entire family. Every one in my family is successful and i sometimes feel as though they expect me to become more then what they are. I have older and younger family members who are proud and who look up to me but i still feel like its not enough. At times i stare aimlessly at old pictures of my visits in europe and south america wondering if i can make it and be successful in another country like my ancestors did here. Im in college now and i am struggling to find a career. My dream career as a pilot was taken from me when i learned i was color blind and due to faa regulations i cannot operate aircraft. I was considering moving to europe also. Life in this city isnt what people make it seem. Ive lived the hustle and know whats like in the ghetto and honestly speaking im am tired of it! Ive always been a good student A's and B's on all my written reports and essays. In high school i was acknowledged by all my teachers as having the potential to become a journalist ,in college the same, but i dont find it appealing and its not something id love to do. Heading into my sophmore year of college I still am unsure which is why i would love to move to another country. Maybe there i will be able to find what i am looking for just like you did which is why i am asking you for guidance. It seems to me that you were able to find balance which is something i want to find dearly. Your assistance thru this endeavour i am about to face will be highly appreciated. Thank you :)

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