Voice Above The Noise

This City

This City

To those people who have always followed their gut decisions and who have never strayed from their inner voices while the world is telling them otherwise, I salute you. To those people who can make a decision at the drop of a hat, who have no problem in sticking to that decision without feeling guilty of not following through with the alternatives, you have the world by a string. You see, the people that don’t obsess over the “what if’s” and don’t worry about whether their decision is the wrong one because their heart and mind trumps all, well, they possess a power that frees them from so many moments of anxiety and anxiousness…it’s a power that few of us experience, but many of us envy. Those people who have always been SO SURE of everything and have been so confident with every move that they make, well, they will never have to experience the creation of crazy, hypothetical, totally over- the-top scenarios that less decisive people experience on an hourly (in my case) basis. From what I want for breakfast, to whether I should stay home and cuddle with my cat or go out for drinks with friends, I have always been someone where decisions of every and any kind do not come easily. I am ALWAYS the last person to order when going out to eat, I can’t go shopping with anyone because I take too long, and I am THAT person in the drive thru line that takes 15 minutes too long to figure out their order. So, you can thank me when the line at McDonald’s is around the block, because I am most likely the cause of it (even though I always end up ordering the same exact thing, but don’t we all).

I have always been envious of those people who have no problem making a decision and sticking to it, so calm, cool and collected, because for me, every decision, no matter the significance or scale of it, is a life or death decision. Needless to say, when I was growing up, I had no idea about what the future held for me. I went from wanting to be an actress, to an astronaut, then to mad scientist who would figure out the key to time travel (don’t ask). No matter how hard I looked or how passionate I was about something, I could never dig deep to my truest self to figure out what it was that I REALLY wanted…every dream and every aspiration was simply temporary and filled the void of not knowing. The idea of trying everything sounded terrific (hence the astronaut idea), but when seriously asked what my passion in life was, you would find an outgoing, talkative girl suddenly quiet. I had absolutely no answer to that…to what I wanted to be when I grew up, to where I wanted to live, and to if I even wanted to get married or not. I couldn’t find my voice…I couldn’t find my words. I not only grew up with this awful disease of “INDECISIVNESS”, but I also carried it with me throughout college, when eventually my university forced me to pick a major because I had been in the indecided program for far too long. No decision ever came easy to me, no decision made was ever made CONFIDENTLY, and it felt like I had the weight of the world on my shoulders.

And then I turned 23. Now, I don’t want to get all sentimental and sob story on you here, but it wasn’t until after I graduated from college that I FOUND MYSELF. That I discovered what I wanted to be, who I wanted to become, and what kind of people I wanted to surround myself with. I saw which direction the needle on the compass was pointing, and eventually my indecisiveness faded away. I, finally, after four years of college searching and looking and praying and hoping, realized the person I WOULD become and in reality, WAS becoming.

I have never experienced such an enlightening moment as I did in January 2013, when I started writing. When I started writing not for college papers and not for other people, not for professors and editors, but when I started writing for myself. When I began to interpret all the craziness of the world and when I took all the passion, hope, and inspiration I had and made something tangible and something real out of it….like I suddenly was holding the universe in my hands. When there was a void in my life, words filled it. When there was silence, there were stories to be told. And I slowly, so slowly, became someone I have always wanted to become, someone that my younger self would have envied and would have looked up to. You know how amazing that feels? When you are on the path of life that you have always hoped for yourself? To know that everything in your life will be OK because you can finally, with total assurance, say to yourself that you are right where you are supposed to be, because this is your path, and this is your story.

I have found my VOICE through writing. I have FINALLY developed and molded concrete opinions about life and the way I think it should be lived, and I am not afraid in the slightest to share how I feel and what I think. Above all…above the blog posts and the articles I have shared…above the stories and the interviews, and above the difference I hope I am making, the thing that means the most to me is that my VOICE is FINALLY being heard, in just the way I want it to. I know what I want, I know where I want to be, and I know that I am not afraid to stand up for what I believe in, because this is ME. Totally and completely me. People don’t realize that it’s ok to say that you are PROUD of the person you’ve become and the place you’re in, because ultimately, that should be your focus through everything…to be PROUD of yourself…to know that you can handle anything because you know just who you are and nothing can change that.

That is not to say that my indecisive has totally vanished, nor do I think it ever will, because I will ALWAYS take forever to decide what I want to eat for lunch or whether I want to work out or go shopping. But as far as the direction I want my life to go in, I am no longer lost. I am no longer just going through the motions of life hoping that all the answers fall into my lap. Because I HAVE the answers and I know the solutions. I don’t have my life all figured out, actually not at all, but I know I am right where I am supposed to be….I think.

“SHE STOOD IN THE STORM & WHEN THE WIND DID NOT BLOW HER AWAY, SHE ADJUSTED HER SAILS”-ELIZABETH EDWARDS

Through New Eyes, Story Four

Sunset in Hawaii

Sunset in Hawaii

You always hear of people saying they want to move somewhere crazy and exotic…somewhere so different and so unlike anything they are used to back home. Sure, I’m sure we ALL have said it, because if you are anything like me, I don’t just fall in love with the places I travel to, I want to LIVE in those places (it’s a curse and a blessing). It’s so easy to get the idea in your head that it would be terrifically awesome and so spontaneous to pack up and just GO, no strings attached, no second guessing. But how many people have you met that have ACTUALLY gone through with this crazy idea? Sure, we occasionally hear of those people we may have once known in high school that have up and moved their lives to pursue their dream of living in LA or New York, or a friend of a friend who quit their 9-5 desk job and ended up joining the Peace Corps and is now living in Africa building huts out of mud, but those people are far and few between. But when you hear those stories, when you hear about those people dropping everything to do what is against the norm, and even moreso, when you hear that they did it SUCCESSFULLY and are not totally broke and homeless (those are our biggest fears, right?), well, let’s just say it makes those crazy ideas seem totally realistic and extremely do-able.

So, for the fourth “Through New Eyes” story, I thought it was appropriate to feature someone who has taken that risk of moving somewhere crazy, exotic, and flat out, really, really cool. Meet Sarah, my friend who I met in German Class at Ohio State, and ever since college graduation in 2012, has been leading one heck of a crazy life…aside from the fact that I have a feeling she doesn’t like the contiguous United States..haha:).

Here is her story, in her own words…

What did you do right after college graduation? Did you live at home for a while or did you stay in Columbus?
Right after graduation I moved out of my apartment, took all my belongings home, then packed up the car to head to Alaska! This wasn’t necessarily what I had planned to do, I definitely considered staying in Columbus to find a job right out of school, but the more I thought about it, the more it made sense to do it right then, when I had nothing tying me down.

Ok, so you made the big decision to move to Alaska. Did you move for a job or was it for fun?
I moved out to Alaska for a mix of work and play! My brothers were already out there in a small town in southeast AK and they said they could get me a job with the company they worked for if I was serious about coming out. Knowing that I had family and a job out there definitely gave me more of a reason to head out there. The job that would be waiting for me was guiding zip line and rock climbing trips in a small town where cruise ships stop. So work was fun!

What motivated you to want to move to Alaska? Had you been there before?
I had been to Alaska the previous summer and I absolutely LOVED it. The scenery was incredible, the people were so much fun, and there were endless possibilities for outdoor adventures. The mountains and the ocean were the backyard and were available whenever.

How long did you live in Alaska?
I lived in AK for about 4 months. The town of Skagway, in which I lived most of the summer, has a population of around 900 for “year-round” residents. Pretty small compared to even Ohio State. It’s much more populated in the summer because of the booming tourist season which runs from about April through September. Many people, like myself, are seasonally employed there, and go somewhere else during the winter–hence my move to Hawaii!

What was the coolest thing about living in Alaska? Anything surprise you or shock you that maybe you weren’t expecting when you moved?
I loved living in a small town, having a cool job, with amazing people. It was definitely a shock going from Ohio State, a huge campus, to a town smaller than it with the closest Walmart or movie theater a 2 hour drive to Canada, but it was a cool lifestyle and I loved it. Life is all about adaptation and making the best of any situation, which is why I love traveling and trying new things.

Was it always really cold? Or did it kind of warm up a bit? (Not sure what they consider “warm” in Alaska…lol)
The week I arrived in Alaska, during the Summer Solstice, it was 80 degrees and sunny every day, but all that changed pretty quickly. It was apparently a pretty wet and cold summer in 2012 comparatively. The average forecast was 55 and a chance of rain. So it wasn’t too cold or too hot, pretty mild. Most days I could get away with a t-shirt working outside and being active, but some days I needed 2 or 3 layers, gloves and a hat to make it through the day.

Ok, so after living in Alaska, you moved to Hawaii. What did you move to Hawaii for?
Basically as the tourist season was coming to an end, I needed a plan for the winter. Since I no longer had a car, I needed to figure out how I’d be getting anywhere, which at that point meant flying. I could literally go anywhere. So I started looking into flights and jobs anywhere and everywhere. I joined a website called workaway.info, keeping these options in mind too (you should check it out, it’s pretty cool). When I found out how cheap flights from AK to HI were, this was my first choice. I had always wanted to check off Hawaii from my travel list, and might as well knock off the two outer-lying states when I had the chance. I bought plane tickets first, then started looking for a place to live and a job to pay the bills – this was definitely the most stressful part, but I figured if things didn’t work out, I would just make it an extended vacation, then move on. I had a bit of money saved up from the summer in Alaska so it wouldn’t be the end of the world.

How long have you been living in Hawaii and how long do you plan on living there for?
I’ve been in Hawaii for almost a year now! It’s so crazy to say that, it’s gone by SO fast. But looking back, I’ve done so much since I’ve been here and so much has changed in that year. I’m not exactly sure how long I’ll stay here, it’s all up in the air. I just started working at a new job, and it has great potential, so I’m thinking I’ll stick around for a bit.

Did you move by yourself or did someone go with you?
I moved out with my boyfriend at the time, but we’re no longer together. It was nice having a support system in the beginning, since we were both in the same boat, jobless and homeless for a short time, but we made it work together, and now we’re just doing our own things.

How did you find a place to live in Hawaii? Did you know someone that you stayed with for a bit?
I didn’t know a single person in Hawaii. I stayed in a hostel for about a week while I searched on Craigslist for jobs and apartments. I personally didn’t want to live in a big city like Honolulu, having just spent 4 months in a tiny mountain town, but it was the best options, and where all the jobs were, so we ended up finding a place that was walking distance to all the essentials.

What are you doing in Hawaii now?
Right now I work for Expedia. I sell tours and activities, and plan people’s vacations when they come to the islands. It’s an awesome job. I get to make people happy, send them to do fun things on their vacation, and even do the tours myself.

What is the coolest & best part of living in Hawaii?
There is SO much to do here. I’m really lucky in that I’m able to go out and do almost any tour on my time off and really experience everything there is to do here.. really, that’s my goal before I leave the Islands. But aside from tours, the nature is amazing here. I love hiking in the mountains and jungles, and diving in the ocean. The wildlife is incredible. I live on Oahu, and I’ve only ever been to one other island, the island of Hawaii. I have SO much to do still and it’s super exciting.

Have you tried surfing at all?
Of course!! For a while I worked as a photographer going out on surf lessons and taking photos of the participants, so I got a little practice. It’s a lot of fun but way harder than you’d think. The hardest part is paddling out to the break! Great workout. I don’t surf very much anymore, but it was super fun trying it out. I’d love to try and get better!

What is a normal day in your life like?
I work a LOT. The thing about living in Hawaii, as I’m sure you’ve heard, it’s very expensive. Food and housing are ridiculous compared to the mainland. I haven’t found a gallon of milk under $5 since I’ve been here. I’m currently apartment hunting for a studio or a 1 bedroom, and they average about $1000/month in Honolulu. Anyway, so I work most days, but I try to fit in the fun stuff whenever I can! If I have a morning off I’ll trek it 4 blocks to the beach and do some snorkeling. If I have an entire day off I always try to plan fun things, explore the island, do a hike, pool hop at the fancy hotels, or be a tourist on a tour for the day. The free time definitely makes the long work-weeks worth it!

What do you do for fun in Hawaii?
Like I said before, there is so much to do here and I want to see it all. I mostly snorkel and hike for fun, but I love experiencing new things.. that’s what life is all about, after all!