Eighteen hours and roughly about 1,200 miles—these are the time and distance that took me to drive to Minneapolis from my suburban home near Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I still vividly remember checking my car dashboard and looking up one more time to say good-bye to my mom before departing for my summer internship at Target HQ. When I left home with an excited heart, I did not realize how much I would learn from just the drive to Minneapolis. The two biggest lessons I learned were dealing with a sense of uncertainty and expanding the horizon of my interests.
I have always been a planner. Whether it is merely going to grab a lunch or hanging out with friends, I had to make plans. In hindsight, I think it was a way of coping with my sense of uncertainty about the future. From the trip, I realized that sometimes I have to recognize when planning, I limit myself. Instead, I could just jump into the situation and focus more on enjoying the present moment. For instance, throughout the latter half of the trip, I thoroughly enjoyed simply skimming through what is famous in the area and asking the hosts of the places that I was staying at or even waiters and waitresses in the restaurants for suggestions of places I could visit. I was pleasantly surprised by how willing people are to help if I just open up. Overall, the trip taught me to embrace the uncertainty and be open to asking questions to make the most out of the present moment.
I also learned that the merit of trying something new is that if I don’t try it, I will never know whether I like it or not. I would never have known that I like paddle boarding—or if I was even able to do it— if I did not try it. (Paddle boarding actually became one of my favorite water activities!) I believe it is a form of courage to be able to get out of your comfort zone and that building more unique experiences allows us to gain new insights. It is not a notion that everyone ought to go try something new right away, or that everyone should challenge him or herself all the time; I believe it is about recognizing the balance between making progress in a particular field and having a sense of settlement. I noticed that even improving something as mundane as listening to music by trying different artists I can develop myself to be more cultured in diverse genres and help me to build newer and more valid opinions. By trying something new, I believe I can become a more open-minded, tolerant, and therefore a more understanding person.
One interesting initiative that I began during the Target internship has been to take a regular walking status with another intern. I’ve found that attentive listening not only enables me to get to know individuals with less prejudices and assumptions, but also makes them want to get to know me more in depth.
To sum up, I think the best part about traveling alone to Minneapolis was that it taught me a lot about myself. Simply recognizing my interests and preferences gave me a stronger sense of self. This trip taught me the essence of genuineness (building my own opinions and being able to disagree with different opinions while respecting the others’) and honesty (to myself and others). Learning more about myself and understanding as well as interacting with new and different ideas taught me to be more humble, yet that I am capable of growing even more. As I am learning that new experiences and new insights go hand in hand, I am looking forward to seeing how I can practice the new perspectives when I return to Penn State for my senior year.