After dramatically deciding to leave school in early 2016, packing up my car and deciding to move back up the coast, I found myself in the middle of a quarter life crisis. I had always defined myself as being a student. I marked the beginning of a new year in September, browsed course catalogs for fun, and savored the time I had off in the winter and summer. But the moment I turned in my withdrawal paper work that was no longer me. Sure, I intended on going back to school in the fall, but I have nine months to figure out the rest.
I was sitting in a hotel room in Southern California, the night before we were going to begin our road trip up the coast when my mom remarked that plane tickets for Hawaii at an all-time low. My mom dreams of tropical vacations so statement like this were not out of the usual. Still, when she said those words something came to life in me. I had just gotten a fat check from returning all my textbooks and honestly, what else was I going to do? I booked a flight that would take off a week later.
My grandparents escape the Minnesotan winter each year to vacation in Maui. I don’t get to see them very often, usually only for one or two days a year. So they were as excited as I was when I showed up at baggage claim. With a lei draped around my neck we were off.
Hawaii is the closest feeling you can get to leaving the country without having to have your passport in tow. Everything is lush and green, humidity clings in the air, and flowers of every color burst from the soil. It seems everywhere you look there is either a palm tree, a mountain, or the ocean waves lapping in the distance. My three favorite things.
I settled into a bit of a routine in Hawaii, mornings were for wandering and afternoons were for floating in the ocean. I spent the nights cooking dinner with my grandma and eating dinner in the back yard watching the sun go down. The week was a blur of hiking, sun bathing, catching geckos in my bathroom, and rinsing sand off my feet.
Although the scenery was beautiful, perhaps the most important thing to come out of my spontaneous trip to Hawaii was the complete change in mindset that I experienced while I was there. I wrote every day and my journal became a brain dump from every thought that entered my mind for the entirety of the seven days. I was doing something I had never done in my life, but still I felt like the most authentic version of myself. Life was going on, I realized. Without school, without security, without any idea what I was going to do for the next few months. Life was still happening.
It’s funny how quickly you can change your life. What’s even stranger is the way you can feel so completely stuck in life, even when on some level you know that everything is in your hands. People make these big decisions every day. People leave their jobs to travel the world, people quit their jobs to work on the novel they dreamed of writing. People simply decide to transfer colleges. I don’t think what I did was spectacular, but for me it was a big step into becoming the person I am now, and the person that I am growing into.
The truth is that in that moment I need a happiness vacation. A moment to simply be, and think, and breath. That’s exactly what I got.