At the age of 12, I knew I wanted to travel the world.
My grandparents took my oldest brother and I to Wisconsin Dells for a short vacation and I remember sitting in the airport thinking to myself that this was the life. Who could ever want to sit at home when there was an entire world out there to explore?
In high school, my friends called me spoiled or ungrateful because I got the privilege of growing up in Colorado telling me “There are way worse places to be,” and “Why would you ever want to get out?”
I agree. Colorado was one of the best places I could have ever grown up. I got to go to school every day with the mountains towering above, in the summers my parents would take us camping and I got to see some of the most remarkable views just from my living room window.
Yet, for some reason, I wanted out more than I could even express. So much so, that I didn’t apply to a single in-state college.
The second I was out of Colorado I realized the state wasn’t the problem. I wanted out of Indiana just as much, if not more. It wasn’t where I was, but how long I was there. I wanted to be constantly moving, constantly experiencing new things. I wanted to see the world, learn about new cultures and try new foods. There was so much I hadn’t seen yet.
[Related: COLUMN: Oh, the people you'll meet]
I remember talking to friends at college who told me I was crazy and that I would never make my dream happen. It was simply too unrealistic.
Yet, here I sit, writing this article from Strasbourg, France, a month into backpacking through Europe. I made it out, just like I always said I would.
I understand that traveling might not be every person's dream, but this applies to so many aspects of life. Nothing will ever change if you don’t make a change.
I could have stayed in Indiana for the summer, worked 40-hour weeks and let the fear of discomfort win, but I decided I needed to follow my passion and take a step towards the life I really want. That step was the scariest thing I have ever done, but it has resulted in the greatest month of my entire life.
I know people who are stuck in lives they hate with jobs that make them miserable, but they will never change anything because change is uncomfortable and scary. If you live with that mindset, then you will always be miserable.
Life is what you make it. Nothing changes if you stay the same.
Gentry Keener (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and political science.