Growing up I wanted to be successful, but I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be. My ideas of a career choice had changed many times over the years. I loved photography in high school, but I never thought of it as a viable career option.
Just one month after graduating high school, I moved away from my family and enrolled in college. I earned a degree in Molecular Biosciences & Biotechnology while also holding down a full time job. It was hard work, but I thought once I had my degree and a good job, everything else would just fall into place.
Fresh out of college, I got a job working for a research lab at the university. Everyday, working in the lab was new and exciting, ground breaking discoveries were being made. I loved the work, but I barely earned enough to pay the rent. Once my student loan payments started, I could no longer afford to work there. I had to move on. I found other lab jobs over the years that paid more, but none of them ever made me happy. Something was missing.
I felt nostalgic for a life I wasn’t living, and probably never would. I wanted to travel the world and explore unknown places. The best I could do was to plan short trips around my busy work schedule close to home. I always had a love for the outdoors but was afraid to venture out too far on my own.
The first group trip I organized was to a place I had always wanted to visit. A place close to where I grew up. A place known as Havasu Falls. The problem with Havasu Falls was that it was located in the bottom of the Grand Canyon. The only way to get there was a ten mile hike. Though none of my friends had ever been backpacking before, myself included. All it took was me showing them a picture of this magical hidden oasis and they were hooked. Back then few people knew this place existed so getting permits was much easier. That was the trip that started it all. After getting home, all my friends were asking me what I was going to plan next.
Planning trips became a regular occurrence. I would post photos of my travels and even began to write and publish content for various outdoor companies. I began to question all those paths I didn’t take in life because I chose to become a scientist instead. So when fate handed me a get out of jail free card in the form of a layoff, I embraced the opportunity.
Now I am focusing on the things that make me happy. I definitely don’t have it all figured out yetut this time around I’m determined to be the author of my own story. When I feel particularly lost, I try to remember who I was before the world told me who I should be. I can feel little pieces of that person returning when I’m on top of a mountain, swimming in a waterfall, or wandering down a dirt trail. For me, that is my happy place. It’s where all the world’s distractions fade into the background and I’m finally able to be at peace. This is where my story takes place.