Don’t Place Your Book on a Shelf

Call me crazy. Call me nuts. Call me insane.

Call me all the names you’ve ever been too afraid to be.

I went into my (first attempt at) freshman year of college as an Education major.

Sorority girl from the South? Education major? Shock.

… which didn’t last very long. Like, any of it. I changed my major half way through the semester (not sure why I bothered – considering I attended zero classes after syllabus week – I did show up for my finals though, which is hilarious to me now), got kicked out of a sorority (apparently skipping classes and keeping SmartWater bottles full of Pinot Grigio in your mini-fridge was a no-no) and ended up leaving (er- should I say, escorted off..?) campus with an impressive 0.0 GPA. Don’t start shit with campus police. Much to my demise, they are real cops.

I went through a bit of a rebellious phase – and I regret nothing.

Had I never royally fucked my life away (or so I thought at that time), I would have been okay. I would be teaching 3rd grade right now. I could very well be married and picking dried snot rockets off shirts I called “blouses”. I would be a word I hate so much, and that word is “content”. I hate the word content.

Content is such a comfortable word. So many people are content, but so many people are unhappy because they chose to be content. So many people are fine with settling for “okay” because okay is safe. Okay doesn’t give you butterflies or anything, but at least it’s safe. If content is your thing, good for you, because content is something I never want to be. I’ve been Content before and I hated her.

I recently began selling my things. My beloved books, my Apple Watch, my clothes, movies. . . all my stuff.
No, I’m not suicidal. Quite the opposite, actually.

I love my books. Those were, perhaps, my hardest possession to part with. But what is a life for a book on a shelf? Sounds dramatic, I know, but if you’re not actively reading a book, it is collecting dust. It’s simply another object to clean. They are no longer books, but decorations to marvel at from time to time, until company comes over and you can say, “oh, look at all these books I’ve read. How intelligent I must be to have read all these very interesting books”.

I have read all of my books. Every single one. I had seven bookshelves of books I have read. Why? WHY?

I read a book, I put it on shelf.


People are like books in that way.

We’re all born with a desire for exploration. Somewhere between, “don’t run with scissors”, and “please stop sniffing sharpies”, we lose our sense of adventure. Everything becomes one big game of “Mother May I” until we’re traveling down the path everyone else expects us to travel down.

Go to school. Graduate college. Get your shit degree so you can land a shit job (but probably not). Marry a shit person. Do shit things with your shit kids. Tell them to do the same shit. Put your book on a shelf.

Not to say that settling down and having children is a bad thing, it just isn’t my thing. I couldn’t be more pleased with my 17-year-old self.

Well, I could be more pleased. My parents could be more pleased… I certainly could have found a less destructive way to change things up a bit, but I didn’t. And that’s okay. I had no idea what I was doing and I fucking RAN with it.

I admire my former self for allowing myself the space to fuck up. I’m glad I lashed out. I’m thrilled I was forced to leave my first attempt at college. I’m so happy I’m not a third grade teacher, wiping snot-rockets off my blouses – I’m so happy I don’t call shirts “blouses”.

I would have been content, but I would have never discovered my love for the unknown. I would always wonder “what if?” I may have never truly known myself. The lessons I’ve learned through mistakes I made taught me to acknowledge my limits, my tendency to be attached to toxic people and relationships, how easily I trust, and how profoundly I love.

I’m 24 and I don’t have a degree. I’m not married. I’m not even engaged. I don’t have kids. I’m not planning for kids. I don’t own a car or a house or anything, really. But I have lived in a way that makes me happy. I am happy. I have traveled. I spent six months in another country, immersing myself completely in another culture. I have met and loved some really amazing people. I’ve learned so much more than any university could have taught me.

I needed that.

Not everyone needs that, but I needed that.

I’m currently working at the YMCA and our local rec center. Both jobs are part-time and I make minimum wage. I’m not struggling to pay my bills, but I did start coupon-ing, so you could criticize my financial status (but you shouldn’t). I’m finishing my degree, but I’m taking a semester off to hike the Appalachian Trail. Classes don’t end until after our projected start date, so I’m not taking classes.

Putting my life on hold to hike the AT appears reckless to most. Nobody will flat out tell me it’s reckless, but I know what they mean when they call me crazy. I don’t expect those people to understand.

What’s reckless, to me, is abandoning your passions and desires for comfort and stability. In order to feed your soul, you have to test yourself and you have to follow your heart, as cheesy and cliche as that may be, it’s true. I’m willing to be a little reckless. I’m willing to struggle financially in order to experience the most fulfilling life I can.

If I died knowing I never took chances and lived recklessly, I would die disappointed in myself.

So call me crazy. Call me nuts. Call me insane.

Call me all the names you’ve ever been too afraid to be.

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 6

  • Paul : Jan 23rd

    You don’t need a degree to be a writer. You have the talent and a unique perspective. Keep up your blogs. Write a book of your experiences.

    • Chelsea : Feb 6th

      Thanks! I appreciate your encouragement.

  • Vince Piquet : Jan 23rd

    I wish that I had had your attitude when I was 24. It took me a long time, (around the age of 40), to come to where you are now. There is an old saying I like that says it all. ” I would rather be hated for what I am, than loved for what I am not”. Going back to Maine in June to continue a SOBO I started last year. Injured a tendon, and had to take a break, but my, oh, my, can’t wait for June. Good luck in your journey. Your writing reminds me of Tim Dorsey. Very righteous and funny. Later toots.

  • Rebecca : Jan 23rd

    Chelsea, god there are so many things on my mind right now that I’d like to tell you and talk to you about, you can’t even imagine! I’m turning 24 in March and so much of what you say correlates with what I’ve done in my life, the people I met and the way how I approach life. I’m going to be in Georgia on 24th/25th of February and will start hiking the AT on 26th. Last but not least… the word I can relate to at the moment a lot is “unconventional” (where one definition is ‘not bound by or in accordance with convention’).
    Living an unconventional life is what I never forced but just somehow naturally did and I wanna feel this freedom for the rest of my life to take whatever decision I wanna take with the faith that it’s gonna turn out just the way it’s meant to be (not in a religious way).

    Drop me a mail in case you’re around end of Feb, I’d love to talk to somebody I can relate to so much. My address is [email protected] in case it doesn’t show 🙂

  • Michael Sweet : Jan 24th

    Keep rocking it. You got it going on.

  • Stephen : Jan 25th

    I feel where you are coming from, but I caution you against drawing conclusions about the future based on limited past experience. Anything in life can become a grand adventure, including and especially career, family and marriage.


What Do You Think?