Challenge and change are essential in growing up. I recently had a very fortunate summer. I graduated from college and went on a trip in search of who I was, and the direction in which I wanted to take my life post education. I needed a challenge.
I could think of no better companion for this trip than my cousin Justin, and no better place to travel to than Iceland.
My cousin Justin and I are very similar, both of us are the same age, love the outdoors, and both of us had just graduated college. We have grown up each summer together and shared so many close memories, he’s my best friend. So it was only natural that we would go take a trip to a place were we could explore and celebrate our liberation from school.
On this trip I was able to experience so many new things. In preparing for this trip I knew we would be exploring, hiking, taking in the beauty of the landscape, but what I didn’t account for were all of the new personal experiences I would experience, and the challenges that some would bring.
The local people had different customs and culture, even a unique language. Adapting to this was challenging but I felt comfortable after a day or two. This was my first trip on my own, and I got to experience some of the first hand travel pressures. This was nerve wrecking but positively exciting. Even small things like booking a rental car to pick you up from the airport and not having it show up on time was extremely stressful. To top that off, once we picked up the car, we discovered the “check engine light” was on. And no one at the car place was willing to help us. This was a big challenge for us. Needless to say we survived the trip and the car did just fine. But the overall experience of being on you own to fend for yourself was new to me and exciting, no matter how stressful it was in the moment.
I also was able to experience living with my cousin for eleven days. Now even though we are super similar (we share the same favorite food and animal), being with only each other for eleven days straight was a test. Some days were better than others, some bad directions and travel issues were a challenge for us, but throughout it all we had a great time together.
Being only with my cousin, I knew that we would occasionally have our differences but during these moments on the trip I felt as if I was growing as a person. We learned how to work with each other, and how to communicate effectively. Most of our minor issues during this trip came about because of poor communication. We learned this after several days but the rest of the trip was smooth traveling.
Experience does for the soul
What education does for the mind
The best experiences that I took away from this trip were all in some way or another from challenging myself. There were many times during this trip that I wanted to play it safe (the way I am comfortable with), but I knew that was not the reason I went on this trip. I went to not play it safe, I went to re-discover who I knew I was, someone who loves to try things, meet people and change things.
Occasionally, I would become hesitant, say “no” too quick, but that’s where my cousin Justin came in and convince me to give it a try. Whether it be trying raw fermented shark for the first time, driving up to the side of a glacier with hail and snow pelting us, going down into a 3×3 hole in a pitch black cave without any supervision, climbing over a frozen body of water up to the side of a waterfall, or swimming in 111 degree natural hot spring water, all forced me to focus and push past my fears, and each time I did that I felt a wave of happiness and love flow over me.
Find Out Who You Are
Those are the experiences that I went on the trip searching for.
Those experiences can only be obtained by pushing past your fears and truly finding out what you’re made of.
Experiences that will forever shape my life and change my perceptions of the world I live in.
Whether you’re doing one small thing that makes you uncomfortable or a large leap to push past your fears I recommend that you do, give it a try, make yourself feel uncertain, feel afraid of the unknown, take a risk, see what you are really capable of. The result just might surprise you.