I have come to the absolute and settled conclusion that I was born for adventure.
For most of my childhood, I lived in a house with 16 acres of woods. Dirt bikes, mud fights, and paintball were just part of life. The outdoors called, spurring on that intense desire to get outside. Because of this, it is hard to find a single picture of me as a kid where I don’t either have a bloody scratch, stitches, bruises, or dirt on my face. I was made to move and climb.
As a kid, quality time was almost always spent outside. Camping, fishing, hiking, and good old fashioned manual labor were our go-to activities. Family vacations were similar, skiing (water or snow), snorkeling, jeeping, and yet more camping. It wasn’t uncommon for us to come home from our vacations more exhausted than when we left.
Our movie choices reflected many of the same ideals. I remember watching the Bond movies, dreaming of visiting those places that seemed so unreal. The first time I watched Indiana Jones, it felt like a revelation. “If adventure has a name…” to me adventure was the name. It put a word to all my wants and desires for exploration, cars, girls, and an unhealthy portion of fisticuffs. My brother and I had the full Indiana Jones set on VHS and we watched each one until the tapes literally gave up and stopped working. Within a few days of their demise, we took a trip to buy the new DVD set, following up on those a few years later by preordering the new Blu-ray package as soon as it was announced. Even the few video games we played followed this idea of exploration and travel. We weren’t playing the zombie or war games; we wanted to explore castles and ruins.
Looking back I can think of the tipping point where it changed. The day did not feel significant, but most significant days never do. I was snowboarding in Colorado with my and my good friend’s family. While we were ascending the mountain on one of the ski lifts, my friend casually mentioned that he wanted to go to school in France for a year. He invited me along, I simply replied “Ok” and that was the decision that made everything else possible.
Not to be overly dramatic, but that brief conversation changed everything. I spent the next year at university as a freshman, changing my course of study from business to “international” business. The slight change in my major seemed a more appropriate change as well as a justification for a year abroad.
I clearly remember stepping off the plane and breathing in the fresh air of the Geneva valley. The true intoxication had begun. From that moment on, I became more and more ill. Wanderlust, people laugh, but it’s a chronic illness, only temporarily treatable with plane tickets and a heavy usage of your passport.
I haven’t ever felt the same since. Learning a new language and meeting new people became part of my personal definition, I needed it. Less than a year and a half after I came back from France I was making plans and moving to New Zealand. This time I went alone.
Stepping off that plane was a different experience. I was totally alone. I didn’t have any expectations. The first few weeks in New Zealand made me think that I may have romanticized life abroad. But it quickly came back to me. The challenges of meeting new people, the new cultures, it was all a part of my adventure.
So now what? How do I keep things going? I just finished my International Business degree which means I’m stepping out into the real world in every way. Now it’s time to make my passions my reality once more.