Throughout my life there are reoccurring themes that seem to do either one of two things. They either bring out the worst in me or they bring out the best in me. The two that seem to get the biggest reactions out of myself are monotonous routines and having some sort of struggle in my life. Combine the two and I am a powder keg waiting to either explode or do something great. My sophomore year of college I had the monotonous routine in all aspects of my life. I went to College 30 minutes from home at a state school and I drank heavily Thursday through Saturday with all my friends and fake friends every single weekend. I did homework that I didn't value or retain any information from every single night because I thought a degree was the answer to success. That point was almost like masturbating everyday all the way until the end and then stopping just before you finish just because....and for me "Just because" wasn't a strong enough reason for me to value the Pythagorean theorem.
Half way through my first semester I knew something desperately needed to change. This is where the DVD comes into play. My buddies and I decided to stay in one Thursday and watch a movie. They recommended a Documentary they had already seen but were willing to watch again based on the prowess that this DVD would change your life. The DVD was made by an Australian Metal band called Parkway Drive and the documentary is called "Home is for the Heartless". The documentary centers around these 5 small town friends that with their collective skill sets believed so much in their bands ability for success that is eventually becomes a reality and leads them to become international jet setters. I was so inspired by the way these small town guys lived their lives, that my brain became fixated on the idea of travel. I obsessed over the thought of seeing Australia, a dream I felt was far out of reach. I knew travel could be my first step in ridding myself of my monotonous routine. The biggest issue was that I couldnt afford to travel on my own but I remembered seeing the international studies office at my college. Then it dawned on me that this was my way out even if only temporarily.
That Monday when I walked into school at 8:30am I walked directly to the International studies office and I waited for the workers to arrive. At 9:00 am I didn't even let the secretary sit down before I started asking her questions. My first "How soon can someone study abroad?" The secretary replied "All of our students apply 6 months to 1 year in advance before the semester in which they plan to leave for exchange studies." To which I replied "Is it possible for someone to study abroad next semester?" The secretary said "Yes I don't see why not but it may be close to impossible to get all the paper work and forms done on time." That was all my 19 year old impulsive brain needed to hear (I am still impulsive). I knew exactly where I wanted to go and that was as far from monotony as I could possibly get. The obvious answer after watching that dvd...Australia.
Side note if you are in college or going into college I highly recommend you study abroad. I understand most people can't afford it, neither could I but luckily I have a non-profit that helps pay for my education because my father gave his life working as a police officer. My father was shot in the head in Waterbury, Connecticut trying to stop a drug deal. Don't feel bad for me my childhood was more than I could ever ask for, and my Fathers sacrifices have offered me a lifetime of opportunities. A luxury I do not squander and a sacrifice that I do not go a day without recognizing and giving thanks. I am lucky to have had a father as amazing as the one that put me on this earth.
Back to the story. At this point I had been filling out paperwork, writing essays and getting official documents to travel for weeks now. A lot of work that eventually paid off when I got my acceptance letter to Australia 3 weeks before the 2nd semester. I spent the next 2 weeks working 16 hour days cutting down trees in New York so I could buy a camera before my trip. One thing remained constant over the next 6 months in Australia. I used my camera almost every single day and I fell in love with the process.
This is where my second reoccurring theme became very present in my life. "Struggle". I was so poor when I moved to Australia. I lived on about $40-$80 dollars a week. I was in a foreign place, I had no closet, no fan, no AC, no laundry detergent, and would you fucking believe it NO WIFI... and our 3 bedroom 4 roommate apartment was disgusting. This simple struggle, and I say "struggle" lightly because I was still a privileged college kid studying abroad but it turned my world upside down and made me appreciate everything I had back home. The truth is nothing and I mean NOTHING makes you realize what you love, what you hate, and what you want out of life more than having to struggle. Once I arrived home with a clear head I knew one thing Camera + Travel = Happy for me at least. An equation I didn't seem to realize while I was still in Australia. Just in the first 6 months of having my camera it had gotten me into countless parties, I met the cast of Geordie shore (Aussie Jersey Shore), I met a ton of people and made a ton of friends, and I even was able to order rounds of drinks for free some nights all because the bartenders thought I was a professional photographer working for the bar. This was quite the feat in Australia with a double Vodka and soda costing around $20 US dollars. None the less what I had learned from carrying that camera with me everyday hit me like a sack of bricks in the face.
Camera = Travel (opportunity) = Happy
The flip side to this equation is that as well as Travel helping you find what you love, it also makes you find out what you hate. Going back to my reoccurring themes, monotonous routines and struggle helped me identify one thing I believe to be at the route of these two themes. "Living for the Weekend." A spiral of hating your work Monday through Friday which leads to living for the weekend and ultimately that will be the topic of my next blog.
With all that being said, take notice to reoccurring themes in your life, good and bad. Be open to change, read new books, and be inspired by documentaries it may just change your life like the way it did mine.