Growing up, I never really felt at home in Tucson, Ariz. It was like my heart had always been in love with and longed for the places I grew up visiting. My 17 years growing up, I never felt like Tucson was allowing me to be myself and as I watched most everyone around me content and happy in this desert, I knew I belonged elsewhere. I grew up traveling lots -- going to countries like Germany, Italy, Norway and Greece and vacationing domestically, like spending my summers kayaking in Lake George, N.Y. and snowboarding during winters in Breckenridge, Colo. The cultures and lifestyles I saw intrigued me and propelled me forward in a search of the happiness I knew awaited me somewhere.
I never felt the happiness and belonging in Tucson that I felt the second I stepped onto Colorado State University's campus. It wasn't until I chose to go to college out of state that I really knew my soul's hometown was in Colorado. I had known I would spend the next chapter of my life in the Rocky Mountains for awhile, but I didn't really grasp how differently my lifestyle would become and how much closer to the universe and nature it would bring me.
When I moved in and settled down, I immediately noticed how much more motivated I was. Being in a new environment always inspired me to delve into the atmosphere of the place. I remember waking up after my first night there and walking a couple miles to Old Town, where I visited local shops and ordered coffee at my soon-to-be favorite local coffee shop, MUGS. I was infatuated with all that Fort Collins was, and that included the people. I found that everyone was incredibly nice and interesting whilst walking around and starting conversations with people as I pet their pups. I will admit that the tremendous amount of dogs that can be seen in Fort Collins on a daily basis definitely contributed to my happiness.
The close proximity to adventure was also a huge factor in how Fort Collins became my dreamland. A five minute drive can lead you to Horsetooth Reservoir where you can take a day-long hike or walk up a steep hill and sit on a rock overlooking the water as you watch the sunset or sunrise -- both of which I've done. You can also take a drive down to other cities nearby and hike the lands they have to offer -- like a day trip I took my very first semester that consisted of driving to Boulder and hiking the Flatirons. The emphasis on exploration of nature in Colorado is so charming and makes it hard to not fall in love with the state.
I also have met such lovely individuals in Fort Collins whom I feel genuinely understand me and share similar values. Everyone I meet in Colorado inspires me to think more openly and mindfully so living here has progressed who I am as a person. Friends I've made over the years in both Arizona and Colorado have been wonderfully supportive and I couldn't have become who I am without them, but I notice how much faster I've advanced for the better in Colorado.
So I suggest you go out into the world and explore all it has to offer while exploring your own personal desires and happiness. Whatever life you want is out there, it's up to you to find it.