A what to do with my life thread

Hi, this is my first post, but I have been lurking for months, maybe a year. Anyway, the question to bring me out of the woodwork is, in short, what next?

I am 18 years old, I have finished HS (I graduated a year early, so I have actually be done a year, and have taken a few college courses in that time, but nothing significant, and have also spend a year on an eventing farm riding horses) I have so many options (at least it feels that way when I am trying to figure out what to do!) that I am lost in it all. I want to travel, and would love to take this year off (which I am already doing but to work and save money for school, not to travel) and go to Europe and travel (I have family and family friends all through England, Spain, Holland, France, and my aunt has friends in even more places over there that would let me stay with them) I really don’t want to come out of school with 40k worth of student loans either. There is also a job in Holland, that provides complete paid on the job training to become an air traffic controller, to the tune of 36k (American), much more when you are out of training, which is more that I can hope to make in the field I was planning to go to school in (Clinical laboratory Science).

My current idea I am playing with is applying this fall to both the University I would like to attend as well as the ATC job, and if I get in both, get a BS in CLS, then take the ATC job, meanwhile visit Holland a few times to make sure it is a place I want to commit four years of my life to (My uncle has a flat there that he said I was welcome to at any time).

Anyway, I am turning the situation over to the wise dopers to for advice. So, advise.

anyone? :frowning:

Don’t feel bad that you are not getting an answer - you are basically asking people to give advice on the fundamental question of what to do with your life. It’s a bit scary being asked that, as I’m not sure I would want to give advice that could lead to unhappiness down the road.

I suppose my general advice, from a midlife standpoint (it’s not like I’ve got everything solved or am looking back with the wisdom of being 80 or something) is to do some things now that you won’t be able to do once you reach the “stable life” of a job and family, such as traveling and spontaneous enjoyment of life.

On the other hand, don’t dig yourself a monetary or other hole that will take you years to get out of such that you will be cursing yourself at the age of 30. In other words, don’t borrow too much against the future. Don’t rack up large amounts of debt to do your traveling, don’t bum around too long, unless you are so comfortable in your personality that you know you will not want a different type of life with stability and creature comforts down the road.

Do a lot of different things, all for a short period of time. Hopefully, you will discover what you like and dislike doing, and what your talents are.

If you can take a year off, I recommend volunteerwork, in or outside of the USA, that pays at least for the trip, room, and board. It’s low-commitment, cheap, and it forces you to discover all sorts of talents and preferences.

Then find out how you can apply what you’ve learned about yourself to a job, and a way of life.

You should do some thorough research into the job of an Air Traffic Controller. It might turn out to be an undesireable job for you. It requires skills and a certain tempermant that not everyone has. You might be assigned to an en-route center or an approach control, in which you’ll spend all your shifts in a dark room looking at a screen. It’s not your basic day job - you may be required to deal with a rotating schedule workings days or nights, in addition to weekends and holidays.

Personally, I’d recommend getting a degree. You’ll also have plenty of breaks you can use to do some traveling.

I made 50k the first year out of RN school. I have friends who do the travel nurse circuit who make a lot more. If you are a minority, you can get lots of financial aid and scholarships if your grades are decent. Nursing isn’t all bedpans and shots, either. You can get into education, the ER, deliver babies, work with psych, lots of different jobs that need RNs. And if you don’t like what you’re doing, you can go do something else within the RN scope of practice.