It was the summer after my freshmen year of college and I had had enough: enough partying, enough boys, and enough superficiality. I knew that I needed to get out of the toxic environment that college can sometimes create. This is what led me to pursue a job that would allow me to move somewhere remote and relaxed with a healthy balance of work and adventure. I arrived on Mackinac Island, a small island between Lake Michigan and Lake Huron, with a couple of bags, my bike, and my yoga mat. I was a complete stranger to everyone and everyone was a complete stranger to me. And so my adventure began.
The value of independence:
The first few weeks were the toughest. I was forced to spend a lot of time with myself, which turned out to be beneficial. I disconnected from my phone and social media, and instead I spent time journaling and reading books. There was no obligation that I owed to anyone except for doing my job at the restaurant. Independence offered me a freedom that allowed the creation of my own space. I explored my thoughts and reflected upon my life simply because I was my own company. As boring as it may seem, it was the first step to returning to my original self before college got in the way. The independence I experienced grounded me and brought me back to a place of love and presence.
How to use free time in a meaningful way:
When I wasn’t working, I had all of the free time in the world. The island was remote, meaning that there weren’t a lot of things to do for entertainment except go hiking or swimming. Of course there was always the option to go to the library for Wi-Fi and catch up on my shows. But how could one resist the crystal clear water and luscious hiking trails? Instead of spending time with technology, I spent time with nature. It’s proven that being in nature makes people happier and I can now attest to that. Besides nature, I would spend time getting to know the town and the people in it. I gained a plethora of new relationships and learned niches of the island that regular travellers would never experience. Using free time in an adventurous way made the experience more meaningful and fulfilling.
The power of connection:
I knew no one upon arriving to the island but by the end I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving the people I had met there. Some of my closest friends were from different countries and had grown up in a very contrasting environment from me. But it didn’t matter where they came from or what their age was. Our brains are hard-wired for connection. It is possible to achieve a connection with anyone as long as we open our minds to it. The people I interacted with added value to my life and taught me things about myself that I didn’t even realize. The power of connection is one we often take for granted.
It may seem frightening to embark upon a journey by yourself but I would encourage you to lean into the discomfort. You will be surprised at what you learn about the world and about yourself.