You know what the worst part of achieving some semblance of excellence? The expectations of those around you. Let me first state that everyone should set the bar of excellence high. Furthermore, living up to those expectations, while it may be a daunting task, is well worth the effort. Each of us, as a child of God, is called to our ultimate destination: Heaven. In order to achieve that goal, we must, with the grace of God, strive towards the excellence of a truly Christian life. Each person goes about the specifics of this journey in their own way, but the general principles remain the same.
Someone you respect says, "I expect great things from you." Regardless of your personal standard of excellence, you now inevitably feel pressure to achieve an even higher standard. Nobody wants to disappoint the people they respect and love. A distinction must be drawn, however, between the abstract "great things" and the concrete "great things" insofar as they apply to a specific situation. Let's say, hypothetically, that you're pursuing graduate studies in a field which you're not exactly enthused to pursue. Everyone around you insists that you will thrive in these particular studies, and that you will go on to do great things. What if you change your mind and pursue something else? Are you letting them down? And if you are, does it really matter?
Living up to someone else's expectations can be a fantastic means of compelling yourself to draw closer to your ultimate goal. Do not, however, let their expectations dictate how you specifically strive towards excellence. The specifics about how you "achieve greatness" are entirely up to you. And God, of course. Furthermore, simply because you quit one pursuit to take up another does not mean that you've abandoned your pursuit of excellence. Someone who truly cares about you will understand that the specifics of where and when don't matter so long as you are striving for excellence. The secular world may look at a person who abandons graduate studies after a year as a failure. You didn't complete the task at hand. The secular world doesn't understand the true meaning of excellence. It doesn't hinge on whether you graduate or not. It hinges on whether you put your all into everything you did. If you can stand up and honestly say that you tried your hardest to succeed, then no one can slight you for switching specific paths.
Plus, God alone knows why each of us is where we are at the specific time we are there. Maybe His plan for you only included one year of graduate studies because He knew that was all the time you needed there –– whether you'd met the people or learned the lessons you needed to learn before moving on to the next stage in your life. The only way to know for certain, however, that you're following God's plan is to pray. Spend time with Him. Ask Him your questions. Tell Him your worries. Place your trust in His loving hands. I know it isn't easy to act upon these statements. Believe me, I've had my rough days –– still do. I also know, however, that practice makes perfect. If you fall, get right back up again. God wants us to be happy and to gain access to the Kingdom of Heaven. He'll help you every step of the way if you'll only let Him.