Visiting Kauai, HI Was A Life-Changing Experience

Visiting Kauai, HI Was A Life-Changing Experience

How my experiences in Kauai, Hawaii changed me as a person.

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What I Learned From Kauai

I remember a year ago, today, all I wanted to do was visit Hawaii. I would look at my phone and see influencers living their best lives in nature, eating acai bowls, being engulfed by the ocean, and running through the mountains… every day. I was a senior in high school, and every day, I was going to school and doing homework. My life didn't feel fulfilling or exciting. People's lives in Hawaii seemed to have more color in it — more life in it.

So, when I found out that my family was going to Hawaii, I was exhilarated. This was my chance to discover what it was like to live life on the other side: the side of life with color and excitement. I had this vision of Hawaii. To me, it was a utopia, where everyone felt an incredible amount of happiness and freedom, untethered by the boring obligations that can come with this life.

My experiences in Hawaii changed my perception of it.

The first expectation I had of Hawaii that fell away was my belief that it was a sanctuary of nature free from the bustling rush of civilization. When I visited Kauai, the first things I noticed were the roads and crowds. There were so many tourists and cars on the island. The traffic was almost unbearable, and even though there were lush trees that surrounded me, there were lines of beeping cars in front of mine and behind me. It was as if people from civilization were trying to get a taste of Mother Earth, and had brought the civilization with them. It reminded me of a lot of highways back at home (the highways that I was trying to take a break from).

And then, all of a sudden, I understood. I was so busy focusing on the negative, that I was forgetting to see the light. Even though I was stuck in traffic, there were still lush trees around me. I was still immersed in nature, and even though I heard the sound of beeping with my car window down, I also heard the sounds of birds chirping and felt the rush of wind on my face. I was so busy trying to see the negative in this beautiful experience, that I almost missed out on the light present.

Another expectation that I let go of was that everyone who lived on this island was happier than everyone else who wasn't living on an island. As I talked to locals, I learned that their life was anything but perfect. Their home was constantly being visited by people who would come and leave. Their home's nature was being torn down and slowing transformed into a tourist attraction. It was getting more and more expensive every day to live in Kauai.

This observation reminded me that no one has perfection in life. I thought that everyone who lived in Hawaii had such rich, beautiful, and perfect lives, yet they also had problems they had to face. I learned that being a human being means that there will be some aspects of life that aren't perfect, and that is OK. Because life can still be beautiful besides this.

Besides some of my unmet expectations of Hawaii, there were some beautiful experiences that exceeded my expectations. I spent a lot of time in nature, exploring the wilderness around me and feeling shivers of freedom within me. I swam towards a waterfall, kayaked in a river, ran through the ocean's waves, ate delicious food, and spent time with my family. All these beautiful experiences made me realize that I can enjoy life and make it more colorful by doing more things that bring me joy, even if I may not have access to a waterfall within 100 miles of me. Life is more than just going to school and doing homework.

So, when I returned home from Hawaii, I brought a piece of Hawaii with me: the energy I felt there. I learned that I didn't necessarily need to live on an island to feel free and happy on the inside. Those are qualities I can cultivate within me.

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To The Girl Who Hasn't Been Herself Lately

Your spark return, and you will shine like you were meant to.
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Life gets tough. Life gets too much to handle sometimes, and those times make you stronger. However, right now, it seems like you have lost yourself.

It’s difficult when you catch yourself not being you. When you do something or act a certain way and just wonder, “what did I do to deserve this? Why is this happening? When will it get better?” The way you’re feeling is not so much that you’re unhappy, you just feel weird.

Your day will come. I promise you. This is just a phase.

The day you realize how much you have grown from this point in time will be your reward. It is so hard to see now, and I feel your pain.

Your light will return to you. Your pure bliss moments, they are seeking you. Your laughter where your tummy aches is in your reach.

Our moods change far too often for us as humans to understand why, but the encounters you make every day have this effect on us.

You must remember the pure happiness you experienced before your first heartbreak, before the first friend became someone you thought they weren’t, before you lost your innocence. That was a time of true joy as you had not a care in the world for the things that would harm you. Better yet, you didn’t have the option to experience them because you were just a child.

The world can be an ugly place, and your attitude towards life can change every day. One thing is for certain: you did not lose who you are internally. We all put on a face for the world. For the people who we try to impress. For the life we want to live. For the things we want to achieve.

Your definitive personality is still in the works. Believe it or not, it always will be. Times like this change us for the better even though we can’t see it.

Your happiness will return. You will be a better, stronger version of you. In fact, you will be the best version of you yet.

Once this phase is over, you will be okay. This I promise you.

Cover Image Credit: Megan Sutton

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9 Things To Do In Nashville If You Have No Idea What To Do

Trust me, I was just as lost as you are.

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Nashville is a great place packed full of lots of really cool smaller great places that all offer their own unique take on the city. If you're like me, though, and have a hard time ~planning ahead~, then this list is exactly what you need. I went around and got lost and tried all the coolest hidden gems in Nashville so you don't have to. Here are some of my faves.

1. Milk & Honey Nashville

Located in the Gulch, Milk & Honey is the coffee shop/cafe from my dreams. It's decorated perfectly for any cute insta story and y'all when I say their coffee is amazing I mean it. Try it. It's so worth it, and pretty easy to find, too! You can browse their menus here.

2. Frothy Monkey Coffee Shop

While we're on the topic of coffee shops, Frothy Monkey is a MUST try. Trust me, I've drunk A LOT of coffee in my lifetime, and theirs is up in the top 10 of the best. They have other good things too, but if you're a coffee person like me, this place is heaven, I promise. It's right off 12th Avenue and within walking distance of lots of other funky little shops.

3. Two Old Hippies

This is the coolest little shop you will ever go into. Tucked away in the Gulch, it's within walking distance of Milk & Honey, so stop by after you grab a coffee and browse. They have everything from handmade clothes to cool books to refrigerator magnets. This is one of my all time favorites and I know you'll love it too.

4. Baked on 8th

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I fell in love the second I saw the cute sign. Baked on 8th has a great atmosphere and even better little pastries, cookies, and cakes. Their cookies were so good it took every ounce of self-control I had to not go back and order 2 dozen. 12/10 would recommend if you're into Instagrammable locations and bomb sugar-filled desserts.

5. Burger Republic

I get it, you've gotta eat more than just cookies and coffee. As far as restaurants go, this place is home to the best burger I've ever eaten, plus the atmosphere is pretty laid back and great, and it's an awesome place to go and watch pretty much any sporting event happening anywhere relatively close to Nashville. Browse the menu so you can know exactly what to order before you even get there here.

6. Fido

In case you haven't noticed yet, I'm a HUGE fan of coffee shops and cafes. Fido was the most perfect little spot. It boasts about its gourmet coffee and great food, and rightfully so. It's also got the coolest funky vibe that makes you just want to sit and stay all day, and it's in a great location and decently close to Vanderbilt.

7. Go see some murals

Nashville is FULL of these bad boys. I know y'all have all seen the countless pictures of those people with big butterfly wings. Well, there's more and they're all around the city and on the side of pretty much every building. It's cliche, but tbh it's also kind of a must do while you're there.

8. Walk around Centennial Park and the Parthenon

This is a really nice place to visit if you're looking to spend a couple of hours away from the concrete of the city, and the Parthenon is a full-scale replica of the one in Greece.

9. Ride one of those little scooters around and explore

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I'm not gonna lie to y'all. I did not ride the scooters. They seem kind of dangerous and I know without a doubt that if I tried to get on one it would not end well for me, the scooter, or anyone within a 3-mile radius. With that being said, though, I did see a lot of people riding them and it looked pretty fun, plus it's a great way to see the city without walking too much. So if you just want to explore, hop on one of these bad boys and pray.

Nashville is a great city full of tons of tourist attractions and amazing musical history, but if you find yourself stuck with nothing to do for a couple of hours before your next walking tour, you're sure to find something on this list that you'll love. So, you're welcome.

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