I’ve loved to travel for as long as I can remember. After spending much of my first year of college unhappy, I opted to take my classes remotely in the Fall 2020 semester. When I couldn’t convince any of my friends to do the same, I chose to move to Hawaii by myself for a month.
When I told people about my plans, I usually accompanied it with a crack about ~finding myself~. At first Hawaii was just about being out of my parents house and by the beach. However, over my time there I learned more about myself than I ever thought was possible.
#1: How to make friends
Without the aid of shared classes or mutual clubs, putting yourself out there can feel scary and foreign. But being thousands of miles away from everyone I’ve ever known forced me out of my comfort zone. I’ve managed to make some incredible relationships that I know will outlast my travels.
#2: Appreciation for a new culture
Hawaii is one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. However, I needed to remind myself that Hawaii doesn’t exist for my self-discovery. People’s homes and livelihoods are there, and it was important for me to be cognisant of that. I tried to educate myself on the history of the islands and those who inhabit them, and it only enriched my time there.
#3: How to use social media in a healthier way
Social media can be a toxic environment. I am definitely guilty of analyzing a photo for twenty minutes, wondering if my left arm looks too fat to post the picture. In Hawaii, I began to use social media as a tool for documenting an incredible experience in my life.
I’ve realized that the number of likes my shark diving photo gets pales in comparison to the feeling of looking a shark in the eyes. In the digital age it’s important to be as present as possible, and recognizing social media for what it is has helped me do so.
#4: There are more important things than school
This month I turned in an assignment late for the first time in my college career. And guess what? The Earth kept turning.
The college environment can make grades feel like the be-all and end-all, but I’ve learned that I’d rather take a ten percent grade reduction than miss out on a sunrise hike with my friends.
I’m not advocating for letting your grades go off the deep end. I just think we should remind ourselves to be humans before we’re students.
#5: You don’t have to be good at things to make them worth your time
During your college years there’s such an emphasis on finding the perfect school work/social life/healthy living balance. Maybe it’s Maybelline, maybe it’s capitalism. Either way, it’s not realistic.
When I entered college I felt like everyone else knew what they were doing immediately, which left me feeling afraid to mess up. Over the last month I learned that it’s okay if I’m the worst surfer in the world or if I have to walk during every single one of my runs. I think anything that brings you joy is worth doing, even if it doesn’t add anything else to your life besides happiness.
Though it might seem daunting, I encourage anyone who can find the opportunity to do some solo traveling. I hope you’ll get as much out of it as I did.
I’ll be returning to campus in the spring with a better understanding of who I am and what I want, and I think that’s all I could have asked for from this year.