There is so much out there. This revolutionary realization hit me in full force shortly after my arrival in Florence, Italy. I am a twenty-year-old female from a small town in rural Maine. I have always considered myself an “aspiring world-traveler.” I felt an overwhelming desire to experience the world. I dreamed of places and people beyond the trees and backroads that surrounded me. I imagined myself immersed in other cultures, being enriched by all they had to offer. I felt ready to simply “go.” However, something seemed to be standing in the way.  

I was trying to follow the rules I thought society expected me to follow. I was busy being a good student. I thought getting into the right college was the end-goal and that if I could just do that, then everything else would work itself out. Maybe it’s simply American arrogance, but I thought my hard work would pay off. I thought I knew who I was, but somehow that was so different than what I wanted to be. I had been stuck in a perpetual wait for the life I dreamed of. I accrued academic accolades, leadership positions, club memberships and fond praise. I used others’ recognition to justify waiting for my future. However, I was blatantly and utterly unaware of how lost I was. I was trying to find success in accomplishments that were ultimately empty.

It is funny how it takes falling apart to realize what really matters. This cliché became my reality. I understood that it was time for a change and that I couldn’t wait any longer. I had somehow ended up inside an existence that left me feeling empty. At that moment, I decided to get on a plane and I knew I would never return to my old way of life.

I was intending to fully commit to the identity and life I knew resided within me. As the plane became airborne, I knew everything would change and I was so happy!

Jade Choate, Quinnipiac University