Guest Author: Tyler Shown
Tyler Shown here. As a recent college graduate, I’ve found it incredibly difficult, as most people do, to figure out this whole happiness and self-discovery part of growing up. As part of an ideal cliché, I went on a seven-week, solo backpacking trip throughout Europe just after May graduation.
The stories are true.
I dove head first into being tear gassed at the European Soccer Championship in Paris, skydiving in Prague, adventitiously staying with a drug dealer in Germany, and various other stories I’d happily tell you in a face-to-face conversation. However, there’s a strange thing about coming back “home” and being one of few storytellers.
You see, when you’re traveling, and other people are traveling, and you poor, fellow travelers happen to run into each other, sure, there are plenty of stories, but the underlying message that resonates at the end of a conversation between a 22-year-old American and a 28-year-old Australian, is that there is an endless supply of PLANS.
I’ve been living in Colorado long enough to have a quinceanera to celebrate. On the other hand, my mother has made sure I never stay in one place too long; having traveled to more than 30 U.S. states and 16 countries, I’ve had a good start to seeing the world. Yet, this is not to say I haven’t seen Colorado, experienced Colorado. Locals will note doing the Manitou Incline, seeing a show at Red Rocks, hiking a 14er, or soaking up the Sand Dunes and various Hot Springs to boot. I have friends happily planted from Fort Collins to Alamosa and everywhere in-between.
Proudly, I could land a job in Colorado and probably be happy here the rest of my life, honestly. On the contrary, I’ve taken a seasonal job at a cabin resort in the colder portion of California and plan to head north to Washington unless Asia beckons me to brush the recent dust off my pack.
You may ask, why leave a place you’re comfortable? Why go where you have no connections? Have no help? A quick reaction answer may be, why not? I’m young. I want to travel.
Youth is still on my side, but I have the enlightenment to preach that mentors are everything. Perhaps my most influential mentor in YouTube entrepreneur, Casey Neistat. He once said, “As a guiding principle, life shrinks and life expands in direct proportion to your willingness to assume risk.” For those who haven’t heard of Casey until his recent merger with CNN, or perhaps haven’t heard of him at all, GQ recently named him New Media Star of the Year because of his immediate success as a YouTube vlogger, gaining more than five million subscribers in just 18 months. It wasn’t even Casey’s vlog, although artistically beautiful to watch, that was the most inspiring to me. Rather, this man, a work hard, play hard machine, chose to give up the thing that brought him the most success and pride in one somber video.
To paraphrase Casey’s words, life is a jungle we’re all trying to navigate, and the only way to get to where you want to be is by swinging from vine to vine, grabbing on to the next opportunity. “The dangerous thing about success is that it makes us comfortable, but it has not satiated my appetite. It has only made me hungrier.”
It’s taken me months to figure out “the next step.” As others can attest, friends, acquaintances, colleagues, all choose to live their lives in various ways, snatching the first vine they see, waiting for the right one, or simply enjoying the one they’re on, while they can.
I didn’t write this blog post to encourage you to leave your home, your girlfriend, your job, or to designate yourself as a permanent drifter. I just want to reiterate my own belief that maybe just being happy isn’t everything. For a short time, I’ve been sparring with the theory that life is all about happiness, because I think it’s even more simple than that. It’s about defining what happiness is to you. I don’t know that I’m there yet.
As a young adult, I’ve heard a countless number of “success” stories, the classic rags to riches way of life. When I really thought about it, very few, if any, of those stories were about persons staying in their comfort zones, striving to remain stagnant. Perhaps it’s taken a Tarzan truism to inspire me to chase dreams in order to make them more apart of reality.
Therefore, I’ve decided to leave my comfortable, happy, beautiful home in Colorado to yes, travel as much as possible, but also to challenge myself, to find the person I am and meet the person I’m going to be.
If life comes down to being a storyteller, or abandoning that nostalgia because I’m too busy living the story, then I’ll take the story every time. As I saw on a recent advertisement from my alma mater, CSU-Pueblo, “The truth is, most of us discover where we are headed when we arrive.”