People always say that your 20’s are full of change and transitions, and for a lot of us, they are. My college years and early 20’s encompassed more change than I could have ever imagined. The initial move to South Carolina where I began university at USC would be the first of many that I could have never anticipated. From working at the Nantahala Outdoor Center, moving to Brisbane, Australia, road tripping west after graduation to live in a tent, to traveling to South America – all of these experiences held one thing in common: they made me nervous, anxious, uncomfortable, and vulnerable. For each of these decisions and transitions I was full of excited, nervous anticipation – that feeling of not being able to fully know what lies ahead – a novel experience. The decision to climb into a whitewater kayak for my first time, to stand in front of a classroom with 60 eyes on me, and to accept an invitation to Everest Base Camp also fell into this same uncomfortable category. The category can be described as nerve-wracking, unknown, challenging, or novel – but for me, more than anything, this category of decisions and opportunities can be summed up as this: one where we should say yes.
Summer in the Mountains
After falling in love with the outdoors and becoming involved with the Mountaineering and Whitewater Club at USC, I wanted more mountains and adventures, and decided to apply to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. While the interview experience was something relatively new to me as a sophomore in college, the most memorable part of the interview was when my future boss asked me how I would handle a certain situation. This situation was not customer-service oriented or work-experience related, but rather a response to a specific situation: finding a snake in my potential living quarters and cabin. Shocked, and quick to realize what she was looking for, I said that I would handle the snake by finding a friend and a shovel to gently remove it. (In reality, snakes don’t scare me, but my experience with them is minimal!) I got the job, and packed my bags for a summer job in the mountains where I knew all of two people – my girlfriends Emily and Michelle from the Mountaineering club. I quickly found that the term “cabin” was used loosely, as my home for the summer was essentially a shack, maybe even a nice shack. This was the first of many experiences where I was uncomfortable, experiencing new things and living a different lifestyle. I found myself way beyond my comfort zone, but I also found that my comfort zone grew and expanded within that summer. More than anything, I found that I loved it. It was this summer that I explored a new part of the country, made lifelong friends, and fell in love. When people do something that produces a positive result, we are conditioned (or we condition ourselves) to repeat it. I quickly realized the benefits to be had by pushing my comfort zone, and I have tried to repeat just that: push the comfort zone and hope that the rewards of doing so will follow. So far, so good! Below are pictures where I am in the act of testing the limits of my comfort zone, or reaping the benefits by doing so. Photos from NOC, studying in Australia, moving to Washington state, traveling to South America, Nepal, and my current state in Hawaii. Enjoy, and more to come!