Growing up in the Midwest, I thought I had seen all that I needed too. A family that loves me, hanging around at home all of the time, and dreaming of travel. Once I reached the age of 15, I started to get to different states, including Kentucky, Illinois, Colorado, and Wisconsin.

The biggest shock of all of them, to me, was Illinois. The group I went with stopped in Chicago, where we went to Target and were warned about the 3% increase in taxes on certain items. We got to see the change in personalities, and the different types of people that wander the streets, compared to the wonderful Midwest, where everyone is the same, and those that aren’t, stick out like a sore thumb.

However, since my high school travels, I made it to college, and went further. These further travels took me to California and Seattle.

California brought a big surprise in terms of cost. Living takes so much, not only for rent and owner’s insurance, but for gas, and food, and travelers. Not only did the price shock me, but so did the people. People, out with how they want to dress, not caring if they get looks, and not caring if someone was dressed the same way that they are. Makeup, done in ways I could never dream of mastering. Fashion, with labels that I can’t even pronounce. It was such a shock to a way of life that I could never even dream of attaining.

But the most interesting place I have ever been is Seattle, Washington. Though I loved all of my experiences there, the cost was insane. It was even more than living in California, which is something that I would have doubted. Coming from the Midwest, it’s almost as if two states exist growing up: California and New York. And one would never fathom a place like Washington being more expensive and extravagant. Farther than the extravagance, however, is the amount of homeless people I saw. My heart broke. So many people, everywhere, who can’t even afford a cheeseburger.

More than that, I was also shocked by the kinds of people that I saw. Not only were they out with their piercings, and fashion, and way of dressing, they were out with their personality. Everyone that I saw seemed happy and in tune with who they are. It was awesome to see. And the best part was seeing the acceptance there. So many people were out with their sexuality, and I loved it. In my small town, seeing someone who is gay used to be few and far between. While its becoming more common for someone to come out with who they truly are, it still barely happens in a conservative place.

It just goes to show what growing up and opening your eyes will do. You get introduced to new ways of life, and different things that require global awareness. In addition, it will produce a passion for exploring that just continues to grow daily.