Take Opportunities As They Come And Create Your Own

Take Opportunities As They Come And Create Your Own

Stop planning, start going.

I, like many other people, have a bucket list. However, mine spans multiple pages in a notebook. And when I say multiple, I mean like ten pages, front and back. It's a lot. It's not even things that I want to do. My buck list is just a giant list of cities, parks, monuments, buildings, theme parks, etc. that I want to visit within my lifetime.

Unlike many people, I have been lucky enough to already have crossed some of those places off of my list. Within this past summer, the majority of places I wanted to visit in Italy were checked off. I've even been able to take day trips to places on my bucket list.

Sometimes trips to cross these places off are almost perfectly mapped out. I create timelines, routes, spend months saving up the money. I dedicate a considerable amount of energy trying to find the perfect way to visit some of these locations.

I spent seven months planning my trip to Italy.

However, I spent all of two days planning a trip to the Grand Canyon.

All it took was me telling a friend that I really wanted to go see it and that maybe we should see it during one of the long weekends we had this quarter. His response? "Let's go this weekend."

We went and it was awe-inspiring, to say the least. I never really thought I would ever get to the Grand Canyon. Nor did I think it would affect me as much as it did.

Yet as I stood on the precipice of the South Rim, I realized many of things I had added to my bucket list, I never really thought I would actually get to see. I just wrote places down and thought, "Maybe someday."

But someday isn't going to cut it.

I managed to see part of the Grand Canyon in a weekend. Yeah, I would love to have seen more of it, but it is also completely amazing to actually be able to say that I have seen even the tiniest bit of it. And it was all thanks to spontaneity. To a slight bit of recklessness. To creating a moment when the opportunity presented itself.

I saw the Grand Canyon because I did not hesitate when my friend said let's go. We should all do more of that.

Take opportunities as they come and create your own. Yeah, money is a little tight because we're young, broke, and in college but that doesn't mean we have to wait for a "better" time to make memories. We only have today. Use it. I did and I loved every second of it.

Cover Image Credit: Erika Salazar|Josue Llamas

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Reminiscing About My Hometown

Home is where the heart is

I was so content sitting outside of a bakery in the Old Port with a cookie and coffee in hand. At this moment, I was able to understand the qualities I appreciate in my hometown.

I have been known, throughout my childhood, to hope, pray, and always state how much I would have rather lived in the city. Throughout my childhood summers, I would sit on my neighbors dock on the water with a magazine, iced coffee, and favorite book, yet still dream to be elsewhere than Maine—particularly, the city.

As a child, I never understood that growing up in a smaller area was very beneficial, and was never able to step back and see how much it has helped me grow. In school, I was always involved in the honors program, extracurricular activities, and heavily involved in sports—building an immense friend group, yet there was still a huge piece of me that wanted something else.

The day I sat at that bakery, extremely content with all of my surroundings and the accomplishments I have had while growing up in Maine, was just weeks shy of me leaving for college. I was two weeks away from packing an entire car with luggage and college necessities when I started to realize I was leaving Maine behind—and would probably never return back permanently.

I began to think of myself by the water. I thought of that one summer where I would spend approximately every day by the dock, tanning, relaxing, and reading countless magazines about New York City. I began to think of how happy I should have been when in reality, I was only thinking of somewhere else I could have been.

I am now in New York. I am now in the area I wished to have been while rummaging through those magazines, or while dreading the fact I had to be away from New York for one more day. And, as I am in New York, I am starting to see some benefits to me growing up in such a small town—when things are so much different now.

I look at my personal qualities—my ability to make friends, as this was always my goal in the small-town school system I grew up in. I now understand how much more rewarding it is to receive something after having to wait so long for it.

Although, what I am able to understand most, is how I need to start living in the moment. Because, in reality, I miss so many of the things I would wish away every day—and an understanding that at times, I was never truly living in the moment.

As my hometown might not have been the right place for me to live permanently, I understand it is where I needed to grow up to become the version of myself I know and love. After being away from home for so long, telling people where I’m from has become enthusiastic, and the dramatic sighs I would add are no longer existent.

All-in-all, my entire life I have always had the drive to be unique, and being able to say that I’m from Maine pieces my puzzle together perfectly.

I would have never thought while growing up that I would come to realize that.

Cover Image Credit: Karl Magunson

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Wise Words From An Expert Tourist, When Life Comes At You Fast Run Away For A While

I would much rather be someone that lives their life traveling than someone who stays at home.

I would always complain about tourists living in America, especially on the coast. People would swarm the beaches and I could never get comfortable with all these sweaty people around me. But this summer, I realized that I myself was one of those gawky tourists. Here's how I discovered my deep, dark secret (which was extremely short of being one).

I grew up in a military family so we moved around a lot. They sent us to Okinawa, Japan so we took a cross-country trip from North Carolina to Seattle, Washington where we flew out to Japan. While we were there, we went water falling, caving, surfing, camping, cliff diving, rock climbing, zip lining, and so much more. We spent three years touring around Okinawa, doing anything we could to get an up-close look at the amazing culture of Japan, but I didn't think I was a tourist because I lived there.

This was a park in Okinawa called Pineapple Park. It was literally a park full of pineapple; things made out of pineapples, things that look like pineapples, things that smell like pineapples. It was amazing.

We also went to Hawaii, Mainland Japan, and even Alaska while we were stationed in Okinawa. During our first Alaska trip, my mom, grandma, and I went around kissing moose and almost hitting a few. We fell in love with watching the sunset at 10 p.m. and petting cute husky puppies. We loved it so much, my mom and I went back two years later.

After our Okinawan adventures, we moved back to North Carolina where we went to every American restaurant we didn't have the chance to go to while we were away. We would go hiking, go to the nearby beach, and explore the coast all the time and again, I didn't believe I was a tourist because I lived there.

Two summers after moving back, we traveled up north to New York City. I will never forget the taste of the greasy, cheesy New York pizza sold out of the back of a truck. Then, I took a trip with my Youth Group to Guatemala where we spent nine days serving food and ministering to the locals.

That summer was the best one of my life, so far. Last summer, my family and I went on a cruise to the Southern Caribbean. We drove to Miami (I could have sworn I saw Flo Rida driving a Maserati, but no one else in the car believed me) and got on the cruise the next day. When we got back, I bought myself a fanny pack to take into Universal Studios with me (yes it was one of those touristy ones). We spent a week driving around Orlando and almost buying a Luna Lovegood wand before hitting the road to home.

I realized that being a tourist was one of the best things in the world. Traveling around and seeing how different people live shaped me into a more patient, generous, and thankful person. So yes, I'm a tourist, but I would much rather be someone that lives their life traveling than someone who stays at home.

You don't have to go far to explore the world. If you don't have the funds or opportunities, you can always stay local. One of my favorite places to go is Downtown New Bern. It's literally thirty minutes up the highway from my house. I love going because every time I go, I discover something new. Your next adventure starts the second you step out the front door, all you have to do is take it.

Cover Image Credit: Katelyn Francis

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