25 Jun

It was exciting. I was nearly there. As the amtrak train pulled into DC’s union station, I sat there jittery and excited, ready to make my way into the nation’s capital on my first ever solo trip. It was a whole new experience for me. And when the train finally pulled in, seemingly an hour later (even though it was only five minutes), all I could do was put on my backpack and get off that train. Beckoning me like a gate into another universe, the door to DC’s union station at the end of the platform stood there with many travelers going through it,  with me going towards it, ready to have a whole new experience. It was a scene in my life I will never forget. It was as if that door invited me, telling me “come closer,” a whole new world is in front of you.

I went through the door, and bam! reality struck. There were a few choices but I didn’t know where to go. Should I take a taxi? Should I take the metro? Should I take a bus to the first youth hostel I was going to stay in? The signs confronted me, pointing in different directions to the different transportation options. Businessmen with suits and suitcases walked past me, knowing exactly what they wanted, stopping to get a coffee before they swiftly made their way into the city beyond them.

In the end I decided to take the metro. It was quick, cheap, and easy. But regardless of how I got there, the overwhelming chance was that I would have gotten there. In the end, the choices led to the same place. I knew that I had a backup plan to easily ask for more money if I messed up. I knew that at the end of the summer, I would start my sophomore year of high school. I knew I’d go to the same house at the end of the summer and live my life as normal. In short, I knew that my life wasn’t going to drastically change, except for my travel experience.

Tomorrow I am starting my second backpacking trip across Europe, but there is a fundamental difference in overall my life situation today. Today, I do not see signs for transportation methods which will get me to the same destination. I do not know that, no matter what I do, I will end up at the same destination. I am starting college in the Fall, living in a whole new environment. I will have a much greater workload and will need to take a lot of courses to graduate. I hope I will make it. But there is more uncertainty. What grades will I get? What internships will I do? I’m also thinking a lot about my travel plans. Today, the paths I have in front of me will not lead to the same destination.

I am determined to make my way in the world to wherever I end up in my adult life. I will take the wrong paths sometimes, as everyone does, and will have to navigate back to the right ones. I know there will be struggles, and times I feel like giving up, whether it’s with a class, an internship, or project. But as always, I go on.

In short, life is uncertain and I don’t have the same expectations to fall back on when things are rough. But I have to do my best. And as cliche as it sounds, I believe I can do it. With the experience I have gained from traveling, I believe my future classes, travel plans, and jobs will work out fine. I simply have to believe this to make it happen, and work as if I am trying to make it happen. The balance can be difficult, but it is what works.

I am ready to embark on an adventure of my life which will not end when I step off the plane in Washington DC at the end of the summer. Rather, this adventure is just beginning.

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