I've driven down the same road hundreds of times throughout my entire life. The New York City skyline glimmers in my rearview mirror as I drive straight ahead toward the massive architecture that sits atop a mountain. This is the view leaving my house as I embark on my travels; from going to the supermarket to getting on the highway, the initial drive down Haddenfield road has ingrained this distinct picturesque scene in my memory.
Leaving home to pursue my education was an aspiration of mine once I discovered "the college experience." As an ambitious and hard-working high school student, I dreamed of the day that I would finally find “the perfect college" - a place that I could call my new home where I would carve my niche. Setting out down Haddenfield road, I began my journey in search of my dream school as I traveled to campuses all throughout the tri-state area. With each weekend getaway, I entered a new environment of unfamiliar territory. Each school had its own quirks and subcultures, none of which I ever felt that I would assimilate into. As a result, my perception of who I was and where I wanted to be became so unclear that I was more lost than I had ever been. I needed to regroup and go back to a familiar path.
In losing sight of what I thought I had wanted, I began to seek inspiration from something that had been right in front of me for my entire life. Driving down Haddenfield road on my way to school, I had an epiphany moment. The college that was right for me had been sitting atop the hill that I admired each day on my morning commute. In my painstakingly endless search for "the perfect college," the answer to my question had been nearly five minutes away from where I live. This school was Montclair State University.
At a crossroads in my life, I had two choices: go to a school in a different environment that reflected my high school career, or accept a generous offer from a college that was practically in my backyard. Straying from the norm, I chose the latter option and in doing so, I have been the most content that I have ever been. Sometimes taking a risk isn't about making a momentous decision. Taking risks are about defying the status quo and making choices based on what make you genuinely happy, not about succumbing to the expectations of others. For me, Montclair State is the main road from which the paths of possibilities diverge. In the few months that I have been a student at Montclair, I have enjoyed a wealth of new experiences that I would not have been able to take part in anywhere else.
Sometimes, the answer to what you are looking for may be right in front of you. The key to what makes you happy can be found hidden among the mundane and nestled away somewhere in your everyday experiences. Even though life can feel like you are driving down the same road all the time, stop and take a look at the world ahead – you never know which path of opportunity lies before you.