The Path Not Taken

The Path Not Taken

I am such an enormous fan of the work that John and Hank Green are doing to help democratize education. From Crash Course to Study Hall, they are constantly looking for ways to make engaging learning opportunities for the broadest group of people possible.

And then they drop something like this video. In it, Hank is interviewing another of the most prolific creators in the world of online video and fantasy storytelling, Brennan Lee Mulligan. But, the interview is mostly about the paths that Brennan took through his educational journey.

The best part about hearing this story is knowing just how unconventional it is, and yet just how successful he has become in spite of (or, because of) his unconventional approach to learning and growth. His story is deeply resonant. He was a precocious kid. He tried to power through his education and leverage the “official paths” laid out for him by others. But, he also started camps and led small groups of people in his roleplaying efforts. He interned and bartended. He won $50,000 on “Who Wants to be a Millionaire.” He started writing for one part of College Humor and then became a much bigger part of it.

It is the story of paths taken and choices made. He would do things differently if he could, but he doesn’t regret his choices. All of the things he has done up to this point have made him into the man he is today. That is a startlingly refreshing take.

We are all the sum total of our paths not taken. We have branched off infinitely until we find ourselves here. You don’t get to see what the other branches would have had in store for us, but we do get to enjoy the view from this idiosyncratic perch. It is a spot that no one else could have found. And it should be celebrated.

I encourage you to watch this interview and to understand that your journey is just as precarious as it is precious. You may not be Brennan Lee Mulligan, but you are someone with just as many decisions and just as many paths not taken. We should embrace the diversity of life within your own story, and we can learn as much as we can from others as we do so.

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