Catching flights & Closing my eyes
I usually close my eyes before booking a big flight, and by ‘big’ I mean any flight that’s a first. This first was going to Asia for the first time, crossing country 8, 9, and 10 off the list and venturing out to lands I had only dreamed of going to… South Korea, Thailand, and well, Canada, but there was a reason for stopping there.
I have a continual thank you to Nick Kramer (my sophomore year, college roommate) being he gave me the opportunity to travel abroad for the first time. I still remember him asking, ‘do you have a passport?’ (I didn’t have one) … ‘well get one,’ he told me, and ‘you can come.’ Ever since that trip to England, I feel like every time I get on an airplane, an ‘oh my’ story is brought back with me. The trip to Southeast Asia (and the 3-hour trip to Canada) was no different.
When reflecting on my trip, I was thinking about all the incredible stories I could share. How the country of Thailand is one of the prettiest places I’ve ever been and how I got into a boxing ring with one of my best friends, and nearly got arrested… twice, yet I won’t bore you with that… unless you see me in person and ask. In fact, I want to tell you that the world is much smaller than I remember.
After I graduated high school, the world seemed huge, seemed unreachable, and seemed like a mystical place. Yet, it’s not. Traveling (out of my comfort zone, which idk what’s out of it anymore) has given me the opportunity to see how small this big world is.
Traveling creates a new perspective. You don’t call a place ‘Africa’ anymore, yet you call it by the country you actually visited. You attempt to communicate with and adapt to other cultures, even if it means embarrassing yourself. And yes, you crave McDonald's when it’s the last place on Earth you may eat back home. Without a doubt, traveling is one of my favorite things to do, and it’s not for the ‘Instagram-able’ sites, but it’s for the people I have met and continue to meet on each new adventure.
Traveling creates new friends that’ll last a lifetime. It introduces you to people in random places like airports, on ferries, in creepy minivans, anywhere really! The interesting part too is that these people are cut from the same cloth, they’re ‘doers.’ They don’t just write things down, their chasing their dreams and passions, from playing football at the next level to going to grad school, each person I meet is incredible in so many ways.
On the way back from Thailand, I had the chance to go to Windsor, Canada (really close to the Detroit airport). It just so happens that on a previous trip, Chris Donaldson and I had met two ladies from Windsor, and one had a free moment to spare during our layover, so we grabbed lunch. I can’t remember if it was during lunch with our dear friend Renata, or if it was while Chris and I got detained by the US Customs (for no reason, Mom!) that I wondered how the heck ‘travel the world’ on my bucket list turned into all of this adventure.
I think that a lot while traveling, and most times I’m left speechless. Left wondering why the good Lord ushered me to random places with random people checking off random boxes of goals, yet I stand amazed at the experience.
I sat down in Dr. Jim Gulledge’s (Pfeiffer University’s Director of Academic Support) office on Monday, November 26th to be struck with questions I couldn’t seemed to answer, “What makes you different? How can you write goals/dreams down and DO them and others write them down and nothing happens? Why do you think that is?
The questions came after I had the opportunity to be a keynote speaker for the first-year students at Pfeiffer University, and being I’m pretty disappointed in my answers to his questions, I’m hoping the professor takes two submissions –
As a kid from Valdese, I never dreamed of having the opportunity to speak to 300 first-year college students or travel the world or get thrown into US customs just to get lunch with a Canadian girl I met at 4am in an airport. However, I dreamed of making impacts in people’s lives, traveling to places outside the United States, and one day, falling in love to a lady crazy enough to marry me forever. Yet, as my mama always tells me, “Dreams are only dreams until you make them a reality.”
So, Dr. Gulledge, what’s in me and in all these other ‘DOers’ out there is a competitive spirit that will do whatever it takes to check off that goal or dream. Most times it comes with blood, sweat, and tears, but we’re gritty individuals. Sometimes we just close our eyes a little longer when we take the leap to our next adventure.
Now… you might be wondering, ‘what’s next?’ AND my talents are taking me south. I’ll be venturing to somewhere in South America (most likely Peru and Bolivia) the summer of 2019. Applications have opened, and any are welcome to join if you’re not scared of saying ‘oh my!’
Just a kid,