180 Days

I believe in taking the risk to experience new things to grow because you cannot grow in an environment that you have always known. Growing up, you are taught and influenced by your parental figures. Whether that means they are giving you advice, showing you how to perform a task, or you pick up the traits that they project. For most of us, this is the kind of environment we have for 18 years. After 18 years, we can decide whether or not we start a whole new chapter of our lives—leaving the place and people we call home. The more I sit and ponder on this, the more fear it induces in me.

When I turned 17, I started to worry about my future, which turned into me being able to understand myself more deeply. I became aware of the kind of people with whom I want to be surrounded, what I want to do as I continue my education, how I want to make every little part of my life have purpose, and how I want to experience everything possible. It sounds cheesy, I know, but this next chapter of life is romanticized for a reason.

I decided that for me to make those desires possible, I needed to venture out of the superficial bubble that I call home. Over time, I figured out that this was going to be vastly harder than I imagined. I was not ready to leave the people that I love. I was afraid that if I left, I would leave their hearts too. Will I ever be ready to take that risk?

I believe we need to take risks. If we don’t, we are left wondering what the outcome would have been. I do not want to keep looking back on the past, asking myself those questions. I want to be present. I’ve decided that taking this risk, this risk of leaving my loved ones so soon, is the best thing I could possibly do for myself. Not because I need to get away from those people, but because I know that there is a considerable amount of wisdom I can gain from letting other people into my bubble. I am especially so sure of leaving because I know my home town is not where I want to be forever. I know there is a whole world out there for me to see and experience. Therefore, I am not going to limit myself to just one environment.

The idea of a new environment is not just moving geographically. It is also about what kind of culture you are putting yourself into. It is clear that when living in a small town versus a city, your lifestyle is different. Different types of connections, commutes, events, and people. When living in a typical small town where everybody knows everybody, you are more of a community. Everyone, for the most part, has the same views, hobbies, and lifestyle. This can be beneficial because you are more united and it can be a really easy environment to live in for that reason. Whereas living in a city, you are exposed to more than what you could imagine.

In a setting with diverse lifestyles, beliefs, and interests, it can be harder for people to thrive. However, I believe that is where you can learn the most. Personally, I feel that I have learned more from the people around me than I have in school. I am not talking about the stuff you learn like y=mx+b. I am talking about knowledge of cultures and the people around us, how to make deeper connections with one another, unheard of places to vacation, issues of the world, how and why someone’s definition of success is different from the other, and so on.

Going outside of an environment you have always known can allow you to work towards your fullest potential. This can be overwhelming and scary to think about or process. While leaving loved ones and a comfortable bubble is hard, you would not want to look back on the past when you are old and question your life. With this belief of mine, I hope to become the person I have created an image of in my mind. I hope to reach my potential and walk with the wisdom of the world.

Claire Emery, Missouri.

By Claire Emery, 18, Missouri. Claire writes pieces about connections with others, inner peace, and goals. She is continuously discovering self-improvement and steps she can take to truly know herself. Claire grew up in a smallish town and considers herself to be an empathetic person where she tries to put herself in the shoes of the situation.

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