Why YouTuber Tyler Ward Went to (But Then Left) the Air Force Academy

07/24/2015 AT 05:00 PM EDT

Watch a few minutes of a Tyler Ward music video, and it's clear the YouTube sensation was born to perform.

But almost 10 years ago, Ward was set to embark on a very different future – in the military.

After graduating high school, Ward enrolled in the Air Force Academy as a cadet. It wasn't military aspirations that led him to the school, however – it was a football scholarship.

"I didn't really want to go," he said Friday at VidCon.

That lack of enthusiasm reared its head six months in after he had been through basic training, and he felt like he couldn't deny his true passion – music – any longer.

"I just knew," he said. "I don't care if that's playing bar shows, I don't care if that's playing grandma's birthday party, I don't care if it's playing old folks' retirement homes. I'm going to sing and do music."

Despite his conviction for pursuing music as a career, his decision to leave the Air Force Academy came with a sliver of doubt, especially after hearing reactions to his departure from his peers at the academy.

"They told me I would never amount to anything," Ward said. "They made me feel like if I left to civilian world, I would never find success."

Despite the initial backlash, Ward said he's never regretted his decision, adding, "It wasn't what I was supposed to do."

When it comes to his current career, Ward's itching to collaborate with another famous face: Taylor Swift. He met the singer four years ago, he said, and gave her a copy of a song he recorded for her, aptly titled "Tyler Swift."

He's not sure if Swift ever listened to his tune, but that hasn't changed the way he feels about her.

"I'm still in love with her everyday," he says. (We get you, Tyler.)
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