Mud On The Tires A journey of personal self-discovery through adventures and opportunities By: Andrea Wilson 1
Table of Contents Introduction
Tug of War
Home is Where the Heart is
About the Author
Introduction Maybe it was the fresh clean mountain air, or maybe it was all of my endorphins kicking in, but at the top of that mountain, in that exact moment, I felt invincible. I felt that absolutely nothing could touch me, that I had all the power in the world. After hiking for 3 hours straight, I never wanted to leave that summit. I had this internal fear that this indescribable feeling of perfection would soon disappear. As the sun started to set over Cadillac Mountain in Maine, I knew that the hike down would have to start sometime soon. I practically forced myself to take that first step down off the summit: unwilling to let go of this euphoric feeling. Much to my dismay, this feeling left me after I hiked 2 miles away from the summit. I immediately missed what it felt like to be so in control of everything, and to feel that nothing was wrong. After an endless summer of hiking, I developed a desperate need to feel that euphoria over and over again. I wanted to feel that adrenaline coursing through my veins, I needed to feel on top of the world. This innate wanting forced me to seek new adventures; adventures both big and small that would allow me to experience that splendid sensation again. I became a girl who loved adventure. I loved doing something that was out of the ordinary and allowed myself to get out of my normal routine. Taking a day to do something completely different than I normally would made me feel alive. To this day, when I find myself getting stuck going through the motions, I recognize the need for an adventure. Whether it be climbing a mountain or taking a two-day road trip, adventures awaken and thrill me. Adventures are the things that I remember the most. They are what define my life, and through them I have been opened up to new situations and experiences that have allowed me to discover who I am as a person. Not all of my personal adventures are extravagant or extreme. They arenâ€™t all life-changing scenes from a movie or include big ah-ha moments. Most of them are normal adventures that every 18 year old girl takes in her lifetime. Even though my adventures might be commonplace to the daily daredevil, I still look at my adventures as fundamental milestones. These milestones have allowed me to experience things that have created a lasting impression on me. They have opened my eyes up to things I never would have seen or done if I hadnâ€™t taken them. 3
In my life I have summited Cadillac Mountain, fallen in love for the first time, and discovered a true passion for something. These adventures and many more, have all shaped who I am today. They have defined my personality, they have had an impact on the way I act in relationships and, they have allowed me to look at myself not through the eyes of others, but through the true nature of my own feelings. On each one of my little adventures I discovered something about myself. Each adventure led to a new trait, or a new way of looking at things. The more adventures I went on, the more I learned about myself. The more I learned about myself, the faster my personality and identity began to take form. Even though some of my adventures revealed negative traits or showed some of my faults, those adventures still brought awareness and clarity to me regarding the person I am. The following pages include stories that explain the adventures that have been so life-changing for me. Like I mentioned before, not all of these adventures will make you sit on the edge or your seat, or make your heart beat in anticipation. However, some of them might cause you to think about the adventures that you have achieved in your lifetime. They might possibly allow you to take the time to look back at yourself and ask the question: What have my own personal adventures done for me? The answer to this question could possibly be in the carefully written pages of this book. So I dare you to keep reading; adventure awaits!
Lost Shadow A little over four months ago I was given the opportunity to visit my old hometown in Granger, Indiana. Granger is where I was raised from birth and it is the place that I will always think of as my hometown. It’s where I learned a lot of my major life lessons, and where I met my first true friends. I think of Granger as my hometown not because that it was the first place I lived, but because it is the one and only place where I felt and still feel a strong attachment to the community and my neighborhood. Thanks to an adorable little golden retriever, I was able to experience the feeling of “fitting in” as well as having a complete sense of belonging to my little neighborhood in Granger. It was a hot July day in the town of Granger, Indiana. I was just walking back from a quick swim at a nearby pond when I noticed a cute little puppy sitting on the side of the road. He had deep chocolate eyes, and shimmering golden fur. I knew from first glance that he was a Labrador retriever. I lived in a very small and close knit neighborhood and the majority of the pets were dogs. Every household allowed their dog to roam free around the neighborhood because it was so small and safe. I had seen every family’s dog since I visited the pond so often on days like this one. However, I had never seen this particular dog. Maybe he was new to the neighborhood or maybe he was lost. I wanted to find out. I walked over to him and noticed that he had no collar, no tags or anything that identified him. I started to get excited! Maybe this could be my dog! Since he obviously belongs to no one else he must be in need of a home. Granted, I was five at the time so I didn’t think about the other situations that his dog could have been in. I was surprised at how friendly he was. The moment I started to pet him, he started to jump up and down and lick my hands and eventually my face. I loved this dog! He had to come live with me! He just had to! He was little enough that I could pick him up, and without hesitation he fell right into my arms. I carried him home with joy, smiling at the fact that I had just found a new best friend.
Shortly after, I arrived at my home. I flung the door open and walked straight into the kitchen, knowing that my mom would be there cooking dinner. Her back was turned to me, and hadn’t heard me come in. I walked right behind her, put the dog right in front of her face and tapped her on the shoulder. She whipped around and immediately smiled. “Who’s this little guy”? She said. I told her the story about how I found him and that I just had to keep him. She explained to me that we could have him stay here for a little while until we found his owner. She encouraged me to help her put up lost dog signs in order to notify the owner. I refused. How could I give this adorable creature away? I had found him, he was mine. Finders keepers, loser’s weeper’s right? As much as I argued and complained to my mom about how unfair this was, I still saw the lost dog flyers around the neighborhood. I hoped and prayed that no one would come to collect this dog. I even ripped one of the signs down due to the fact that I was so persistent about keeping him. As angry as I was, I was still happy that I got to have some time with my beloved pet. Whenever we played together, or I went around the neighborhood to visit friends, he was always right by my side. Never leaving me until I told him to lie down, or I had made it clear that I was done playing. I named him Shadow, and he fit his name perfectly. At least two weeks had gone by and no one had come to claim Shadow. I begged my mom to take down the signs, even offering my help in an attempt to convince her. She finally gave in. With Shadow right by my side I walked around the neighborhood and happily took down the signs. Shadow was finally my dog and I was the happiest I could be. Just like all the other dogs, Shadow had become a neighborhood dog. He would walk around the backyards, chased the squirrels up the trees and would stop and allow an occasional pet or play session with the neighborhood kids. I realized that having Shadow as a neighborhood dog made me a part of my community. People knew who Shadow was and because of that they knew who I was. I met so many new people because of Shadow and his ability to make introductions easy by sparking a question like “You’re dog is adorable! What’s his name?” When I walked through my neighborhood with Shadow by my side and saw other dogs and their owners I felt a somewhat unspoken bond. We all loved our dogs and loved our neighborhood as well as that is what made me feel connected to my community.
Even though Shadow has passed, and I no longer live in Granger, I am still forever grateful that I found Shadow. He gave me the opportunity to be a part of something, and to feel connected to my community in my own little way. This is something that I have yet to experience in other places that I have resided. With Shadow, I was able to feel that neighborhood bond that my most recent residence has not given me the opportunity to experience. And although Shadow is no longer with me, I still have that sense of belonging when I go back and visit Indiana. Sometimes I will see an old neighbor walking around the black, and they won’t hesitate to smile and wave. When I found Shadow, he became my world. I wanted to play with him every second of every day, and I never wanted him to leave my sight. Shadow was the most important thing in my life at that time. I felt that nothing could ever replace the feeling I experienced when he would run up to me and wag his tail. With Shadow, I was given an excuse to take daily walks around the neighborhood and strike up conversations with other dog owners. I was much more confident talking to strangers because I knew that if the conversation ever lulled I could always turn it back to Shadow. The more and more I talked to strangers, the clearer it became that I was an extremely extroverted person. Instead of shying away from personal questions or replying with simple yes or no’s, I seemed to talk forever. It didn’t matter what the subject was, I always had an opinion or something to say. Whether it was about the weather or about the local county fair, I talked on and on until I was sure that the stranger’s ear was going to fall off. If you ask my friends, and even some of my professors, they will tell you that I am a very opinionated person. I have opinions about nearly everything. Due to the fact that I recognized this trait early in my life, I am now able to clearly and effectively relay my opinions in a constructive way rather than a threatening way. Thanks to Shadow I am able to embrace the fact that I am very opinionated individual instead of feeling ashamed or embarrassed by it. My adventure with Shadow also brought to light a trait of protectiveness to my eyes. Before Shadow, I had never had the opportunity to care for an innocent animal all by myself. I suddenly became very protective over Shadow. I didn’t want him to go to the vet with my mom without me. I got nervous and worried when my parents would let Shadow run around in our backyard without anyone watching him. I loved Shadow to the moon and back, and I knew that I would be completely devastated if anything happened to him. This protectiveness is 7
still present in my personality today, and it is most recognizable in my personal relationships. It has both helped me and hurt me, but I have learned when to embrace the trait and when to keep it to myself. The adventure with Shadow and even Shadow himself gave me a chance to explore more about myself and allowed me to understand a little bit more of the complicated puzzle that is my identity. During the 2011-2012 school year I was asked to read a memoir by Michael MacDonald entitled: Easter Rising. This memoir focuses on the journey of a young naĂŻve kid from South Boston who sets out on an adventure (how relevant!) to discover who he is a person. While reading this book, I found myself relating to the majority of the activities that MacDonald participated in in order to discover himself. One activity in particular that I related to the most, was his act of completely immersing himself in something that he was passionate about. While McDonaldâ€™s and my passion are completely different, they still both allowed us to discover another aspect of ourselves. His adventure was a little bit more dangerous than mine, but nonetheless, the adventure was one that led us both to a greater understanding of who we are as individuals.
Passion In the memoir, Easter Rising, Michael McDonald is accidentally exposed to the music genre of punk rock. Immediately he is swept off his feet into a world which is totally foreign to him. At first he is drawn to the music with a sense of desperateness, longing for something different in his life. He then becomes obsessed with the music. Eating, sleeping and breathing punk rock. Finally, he becomes the stereotypical punk rock music fan; attitude and all. His journey from an ordinary South Boston tough kid to a hardcore, pissed off punk rocker is one that causes him to create a brand new identity for himself; an identity that creates a whole new Michael. At the beginning of the novel, we see Michael as a young, naïve kid from south Boston who seems to be floating around in life with no real interests or hobbies. He enjoys riding trains with his brother and experiencing the feeling of getting out of South Boston if only for just a day. But nothing seems to truly excite him. This all dramatically changes when he witnesses the death of his mentally ill brother, Davey. Michael becomes overcome with grief and starts to develop a sense of hatred toward Southie and the people in it. He starts to long for something new, something different, and something that would allow him to be associated with someplace or something other than Southie. He finds this “something” when he stumbles into a record store in Downtown Boston. He is instantaneously drawn to the culture of punk rock music when he spots a fan of the genre: Ghoulish Bob. He says : “the whole spectacle thrilled me. I admired the freak in a way and went back to Strawberries to buy a sex pistols album” (McDonald, 16). This quote occurs when Michael is people watching outside of the record store and is drawn into the store to purchase an album. He does this solely on the basis of Ghoulish Bob. He has no idea what kind of music, he is about to purchase he simply buys it because he liked the way Bob dressed.
Michael’s world changes when he listens to the Sex Pistols album in his own room. “In the collapse, a knot in my stomach-one I didn’t even know I had- came undone. It was as if the voice was my own, and I had rediscovered it in the rubble around me” (McDonald, 18). At this point in time Michael had never heard or experienced anything that made him feel whole. He had never felt that sense of belonging anywhere. But at this moment in time, when he heard that first song, he knew he had found himself. He had found his voice in all the rubble that surrounded him. The rubble of grief, the rubble of Southie, and the rubble of everything he wanted to be. Michael’s response to this music made him want to keep going back for more. He frequented the record stores often and observed everything he could about punk music. Every time he had that same feeling of complete and utter enjoyment. “I felt that I was at the center of something that had never happened before, a completely new era where each person could invent a whole new existence new ways of looking at things” (McDonald, 39). In this quote Michael feels that this genre was something that was brand new to the world. It was a thing that no one had really seen yet and no one had really understood. He loved that as new as it was to him, it was just as new to the world. He wanted so bad to be a part of this culture. He wanted it to engulf him, to take over his whole life, so he could be associated with something other than Southie. To his relief, it did just that. Now, that Michael had discovered this music and was definitely attracted to it, he wanted to become obsessed with it. So, he spent all of his time at Strawberries and other record stores learning as much as he could about this new “punk rock”. “I knew I had stumbled into the center of the universe I wanted to be in, so I took note of everything I saw and heard, trying not to be identified as an outsider (McDonald, 28). This quote explains that Michael became a sponge. He opened his eyes, and his ears to everything he could just so he could learn more about this new world in which he wanted to belong to so bad. It also explains how his personality is already starting to change. He wants to learn about punk rock so he can have this new identity. If he was the same old Michael from Southie he would absolutely hate being in the record stores and looking at the other punk rock fans and their attire.
Eventually, Michael breaks down and finally buys some reading material on punk rock. “After spending hours at Newbury comics I bought the English paper NME and the Boston fanzine Killer Children. I wanted to go home, lock myself in my back room and study it all” (McDonald, 31). This quote shows how invested Michael is into punk rock now. It shows that it wasn’t just a phase for him, but it is something that he truly wants to enjoy and become his hobby. It also explains that Michael is doing his research in order to truly become a fan. He does not want to be considered a fake or a phony, because he experienced enough of that in Southie. He wants to be a truly genuine punk rock fan. Along with fanzines, Michael’s room starts to take the look of a punk rocker. “Copies of NME-were strewn all over my floor, and my walls were becoming covered with pictures of bands, vampires and legendary people who looked like they had landed on the wrong planet” (McDonald, 37). This quote explains that Michael wants this punk rock culture to follow him everywhere. He wants to be a part of it 24/7. He feels that his old room does not express his new personality and it doesn’t allow him to feel the way he wants to without all the pictures and posters. The final stage of Michael’s obsession is becoming the image of punk rock. This means that he dresses like the punk rockers do, he talks and walks like they do and even hangs out with them. In the middle of the book we see that Michael has obviously changed. “ Coming out of High Society, wearing a sex pistols T-shirt, with pretty vacant scrawled on it, wraparounds, and a badge I’d just bought that said I’m a mess, I saw Ghoulish Guy”. This quote shows us that now Michael has become the epitome of punk rock. From his head to his toes he is decked out in punk rock attire. He now feels educated enough that he can dress like this because he understands the culture. He realizes that punk rock isn’t about conforming; it’s about being a non-conformist. It’s about questioning authority and sticking up for yourself. Michael dresses like this because he knows he has the attitude to go along with it. He’s got that “pissed off at the man” mentality and he doesn’t care who knows it. Now, we see that Michael has made the complete transformation from ordinary townie to a defiant punk rocker. He no longer spends his days and nights in Southie but rather with Ghoulish Bob at the record store. He doesn’t care if people yell “loser” at him down the street because he knows they don’t understand his type of interests. Punk rock music changed Michael. It is hard to say if it was for the better or for worse but one thing is 11
for sure: Thanks to punk music, Michael was able to discover a whole new identity for himself. An identity that allowed him to branch away from his hometown of Southie and into a new culture. Similar to McDonald’s passion for Punk Rock, my discovery and obsession with country music had become more prevalent in my life as I grew older. My first taste of country music occurred while I was driving cross country with my grandparents. They listened to every single country artist that was famous at the time .There was nothing I could do to escape the voices of Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, and Johnny Cash streaming through the car radio. I can’t recall my exact reaction when I first heard Hank sing, but I know that I wasn’t irked by the unique tone in his voice or the banjo strumming in the background. When my grandparents and I finally arrived back home I seemed to forget about country music. Granted, I was 7 at the time, so not a lot of things made that big of an impression on me. I never listened to country music when I was a pre-teen. I listened to bands like the Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC. I listened to them not because I thought their music was good but, because I thought they were so hot and their lyrics were fun. I eventually grew past my pre-teen fantasy of marrying a Backstreet Boy and grew out of their music. I began to look for music that was more meaningful and moved me in a more artistic way. I didn’t have the best of luck finding anything, so I just listened to what my friends listened to; which was mainly top 40 pop. Music was not that important to me at the time, and I didn’t feel the need to spend my time looking for new bands with meaningful lyrics. It wasn’t until I was 14 years old, with the gift of a CD, that I re-discovered the wonderful genre of country music. During a family swap at Christmas I was given the gift of Taylor Swift CD. I was a little upset when I received this gift because I was originally wishing for cell phone instead. Unfortunately, a CD really couldn’t replace the freedom of having my own phone. On the way back to New Hampshire, while I was looking over my gifts I came across that CD. Since I was bored in the car, and I still had to sit for three more hours, I asked my mom to put the CD in. She did and I just sat and listened. By the time we were finally arriving home, I had picked out all of my favorite songs. For the next week, I made it my personal duty to learn the lyrics to every single one of these songs and sing them at the top of my lungs whenever I got the chance. I was having so much fun discovering this new type of music. I loved that I was the only one of my friends who listened to country. It made me feel unique 12
and special, like I was part of something that was secret, and was different from all other types of music out there. I eventually moved on from Taylor Swift. I discovered new artists such as Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, and just like I did with Taylor’s songs I learned every single one of theirs as well. It became my obsession to find artists that I liked. When I received an IPod for my birthday I loaded it up with Taylor, Tim, Faith, Shania Twain and even Garth Brooks. It was like the whole town of Nashville was jammed pack into my IPod and all I had to do to hear their voices, was press one simple key. The more I listened to country music the more I started to comprehend the lyrics. Soon, all I drank was Iced Tea, and I had already bought my first pair of cowboy boots. I had bedazzled my own cowboy hat, and bought numerous amounts of plaid shirts. Just like McDonald I had become the image of the music that I loved, and I was so happy. Country music had become my life. I am still a huge country music fan today. I spend most of my money on concert tickets and albums released by my favorite stars. Unlike my younger self, I don’t dress like a cowgirl every day of the week. I do have cowboy boots, but they aren’t considered my everyday shoes. As I look back on my adventure of discovering country music I can recognize a trait that is still a huge part of me today. When I love something, or when I discover something interesting, I drop everything and just focus on that one thing. It consumes me, and it becomes my obsession. The trait of obsession is something that still follows me around today. It can be argued that this trait can be detrimental to my health, but I look at this trait as me being a kid again. I am still able to just get lost in something and I think that is what keeps me positive and upbeat. Allowing myself to get obsessed with a certain NHL hockey player or a certain country artist, allows me to broaden my horizons of interest and opens my mind up to new things and new experiences. Since my love of country music has allowed me to attend events, I have experienced my first concert, had my first free beer, and the list goes on. It might not be a trait that everyone would want, but I am thankful that I have it. With age, come new responsibilities. As I grow older, I am forced to take on more responsibilities in my everyday life and handle those responsibilities well. Sometimes these responsibilities don’t always work well with other parts of my personality and I just want to push them to the side. During my years of high school, I was loaded down with responsibilities by my parents. These responsibilities were something that just kind of came out 13
of nowhere and there was nothing I could do to ignore them. The following story describes a conflict between two parts of my life. This conflict taught me a lot of things about myself; but it has also lead to a lot of confusion as well.
Tug of War It was a dark, windy night on the highway of 290 east and we were completely lost. We had spent over an hour trying to get to TGIFridays and my gas light was yelling at me to pull over and refuel. “Take this exit” Dana yelled. “No it’s the exit before that” Andrew screamed. My mind was going in a million different directions. Should I listen to Dana and make a super sharp turn, or listen to Andrew and go through a toll booth? Andrew’s since of direction seemed a little more reliable so I decided to keep driving. With my gas light getting brighter and brighter, I know I needed to find a gas station but I also knew I wouldn’t find one before going through this toll. It didn’t help my concentration that Eminem was yelling though the radio at the top of his lungs about losing yourself, and singing for the moment. I just told myself to get through this toll, and then I could find the gas station. A thought popped into my mind: I have to pay this toll and I have no money. I asked around the car: “Anyone have any money? I think this toll is like $1.25”. I got No’s all around. Shit. How am I gonna do this? The toll booth was just 5 feet away and I couldn’t pull money out of thin air so I just put the pedal to the floor and booked it through the toll booth. I looked in my rearview mirror praying to god that there weren’t flashing blue and white lights zooming toward me. “Look at that, you’re such a bad-ass”, Andrew joked. In reality, that’s exactly how I felt. Through all that panic right before rolling through the toll booth, my adrenaline was pumping like a recently shocked heart. It was coursing through my veins, making me feel alive and free. It might seem a little pathetic that not paying a toll made me feel wild and rebellious, but you have to realize that I came from a family where forgetting to turn the lights off in the car earned you two weeks of no TV and limited privileges. It would be an understatement to say that my parents are strict. I love them with all my heart, but sometimes I still feel suffocated by all their rules and pressure that they put on me. I often face dilemmas when forced to make a decision that I know will force me to choose between two things: being a rebel or pleasing my parents. While being a rebel allows me to experience the thrill of doing something against my parents, it always leaves me feeling guility for days after the event happened. When I do please my parents, I once
again feel like I am just succumbing to their rules; continuing to be the good child and keeping my reputation of “goodie two shoes” It’s a reputation I want so badly to change, but sometimes I just don’t have the guts. Deciding between rebellion and parental pressure has caused me to feel like I am being pulled in two different directions. I have tried both actions in a hope that one might stick out from the other, but whichever one I choose I always feel a pull in the opposite direction. If you asked my Mom who was the better child of my family, she would say “Andrea” with absolutely no hesitation. Starting at around age 8 I did everything that my parents told me to do. I made my bed every day, completed my homework on time and even cleaned the house without being asked. At 8 years old I thought I had no other option than to obey my parents. Granted, they did put a roof over my house and provided me with opportunities to grow so how could I disobey them? Even when I did slip up once or twice, the disappointing looks from my parents and their punishment for me was more than enough to put me right back on track. The thought of rebelling was something I had never even thought of, and at that time I probably didn’t even know what it meant. Besides, I didn’t want to rebel. I loved the praise I would get from my parents when I got an A on an assignment or cleaned my room without being told. It made me feel that my parents were proud of me. When I got into sports, the desire to impress my parents increased greatly. I wanted them to feel that I was putting all my effort into practices, and I was truly learning as much as I good to better myself as a player. It was hard for me to take, when I would ask my parents after my basketball games if I played well and they would answer with: “You played okay, but not great”. My sister, Natalie, was the complete opposite of me. She would never make her bed, would always get into arguments with my parents, and wasn’t always the best student in school. For some reason Natalie didn’t seem to care that she made my mom and dad disappointed. She would let their comments of being “disappointed in her” roll in one ear and out the other. It puzzled me greatly that she could care so little about how my mom and dad viewed her, while their opinion of me was usually in the forefront of most of my thoughts. My parents eventually loosened their grip on Natalie and weren’t so strict with her. They hoped this would allow her to see that she needed to have her own drive and ambition if she was going to be successful. It worked. Natalie finally got her grades up and got accepted into Nichols. Unfortunately, their grip on me only seemed to 16
tighten. As I entered high school, they were constantly on me about making honor roll, and earning a starting spot on the varsity Field Hockey team. I was able to accomplish both of these, but it made me go crazy with stress. At the beginning of my sophomore year I was so tired of my parents’ constant pressure. All I wanted was to go out and have fun with my friends without worrying about getting an A on the next exam, or scoring that goal in my field hockey game. Somewhere, somehow, it clicked to me that I didn’t always have to be the “good” child all the time. I mean, Natalie had been the bad child almost her whole life and my parents still loved her dearly. I could let loose a little bit, and make some bad decisions. I was only young once and I wasn’t about to waste it by sitting in my room on a Saturday studying my life away. I developed this mentality that my parents didn’t have to know everything about my life. I could leave out a few bits of information in order to help give them peace of mind about my activities. It was the last Saturday night of summer before the start of my junior year, and my boyfriend and I were hanging out at my house. We were both extremely bored of watching TV all day, and we knew that our friend Myles was having a big party at his house to end summer with a bang. Jake and I had already planned on going; I just had to tell my parents. Knowing that my parents would not be happy with the fact that alcohol would be present, I had to lie and tell them that both of his parents would be home. Just to be extra defiant, I added in a little white lie that my friend Jacinda was going to pick us up at Jake’s house and she was going to drive us. I also told them that I would be back around 12. My parent’s believed me, and Jake and I went to the party. The party was a blast. I was so busy drinking and dancing that I hadn’t noticed that it was past curfew. My judgments were a little impaired at this point, so I told Jake to just take me to his house where I would spend the night. When I awoke the next morning, I was so nervous. I had 10 missed calls and 5 text messages from my parents asking where I was. I called them back and told them I was at Jake’s and I was fine. They came to pick me up and the whole car ride home I got endless chatter about being disappointing and irresponsible. I was surprised that I wasn’t concerned about how my dad felt about my actions. I had a good time; I was doing something I had wanted to do. Their opinion of me didn’t matter. That night was the first time where I felt that disobeying my parents wasn’t the end of the world. I loved going to that party and drinking because it 17
made me feel young. It made me feel that I could do things I wanted and that I had a say in my life. The rest of junior year was a lot like that story. I went to parties or hung out with my boyfriend when I knew my parents did not approve. I could tell that their opinion of me had changed but I still didn’t care about what my parents thought until my senior year rolled around. I knew I would be leaving for college soon, and I wanted to spend as much time as I could with them. I straightened up my act a little, putting a little more effort into school and returning back to the wholesome girl I was. I would still go out and party but I just didn’t do it as much. I was more controlled at parties and my parents thoughts once returned to the back of my head about my decisions. Now that I am in college the tug of being a rebel or pleasing my parents has not gone away. There are some days when I just want to miss a whole day of classes just because I can. And then there are others where I want to spend a good chunk of my day on homework. Weekends are usually the hardest days for me in terms of decision making because I am offered with so many ways to rebel. Even if I do decide to drink on a Saturday, sometime on Sunday I will feel a little bit of guilt about making a bad decision and disappointing my parents. Of course my parents don’t know every single thing I do, but I know from the stories my sister has so kindly shared with them, that they have some idea. I also feel a tug of wanting to rebel in a bigger way. Such as leaving from New England and living down south when I graduate college. This has always been a huge dream of mine, but my parents so strongly disapprove. As hard as I try I am somehow still under their grip. Rebelling, even if it is small is my own little way of showing them that I am still young and I can’t be the good girl all the time. After writing this paper, it is clear to me that pleasing my parents has a much bigger influence on me than rebelling does. Rebelling is something I do sometimes, while pleasing my parents is something I do most of the time. It’s so difficult for me to just not care what they think and do something completely on a whim. It’s a struggle for me to do what I want, because I care so much about the opinion my parents have of me. If I can somehow, if only for a week, forget what my parents think about me and just live my life, I feel that I would have a much more adventurous and exciting life. When I will able to do this I do not know, But hopefully it is soon, because the pressure it starting to become unbearable. The act of rebelling led me on even more adventures that allowed me to learn new things about myself. While attending that party with Jake, I experienced my first taste of independence. It was shocking to me that I 18
didn’t end up getting completely trashed, or going crazy at the party. Sure I got a little tipsy, but it wasn’t anything serious. For the entire night, I kept telling myself to not drink too much, to not get out of control, and to not do something that I would regret in the morning. I didn’t understand why this was what I wanted. I had always thought that my first party would be one that I would never forget. But something was telling me to stay in control. I realized that I had an internal sense of self that was telling me to keep my calm and to have fun but not too much fun. This internal intuition reared its head for the first time at this party and it was the first time that I had recognized it in myself. I had never before been able to listen to it, since so many other voices were in my head. My parents, my sister and even some of my coaches drowned out this internal sense of self with their high expectations and even higher responsibilities of me. I was shocked that I trusted this internal voice so willingly. I had never really noticed it before and it scared me that it had complete control over me. But as the party went on, I became grateful for this voice. For once in my life, I had allowed myself to listen to my own voice and not be influenced by other the thousands of others around me. Before this party and even before high school, I had never really looked to myself for guidance through tough situations. I would always run to my mom, my friends, or my sister if I needed advice on something that was bothering me or bringing me down. I never took the time to look inside myself and see if the answer to my problems was inside of me rather than outside of me. With this party, and my new awareness of my inside voice, I started to look to myself in tough situations. If Jake and I were having problems, I would take to the time to think about why weren’t getting along and look back on my own behavior. Unlike my old self, I didn’t tell my sister that Jake was mad at me, in fear that her answer might not be the one that I was looking for or the one that would solve my problems. I constantly wrote about my feelings in a journal, because it allowed me to see right into myself with no interruptions of highly critical voices. The more I wrote and the more I self-analyzed my actions, the more I recognized who I was as a person. My decision to break up with Jake happened after reading a journal entry that I wrote about how depressed and neglected I was feeling. I discovered that my depression wasn’t because I was changing or because I had suddenly become very needy, but it was because Jake wasn’t allowing me to be myself.
Even though my journal is at home, and I donâ€™t write in it as much as I used to, I still write a weekly blog that is intended for my eyes only. Like my journal, I use my blog to reflect on events that have happened, or for trying to work out a problem in writing rather than feeling conflicted about it in my head. I am so glad that I discovered my own voice and my own sense of self back in my sophomore year of high school. I have benefited so much from this discovery and it has allowed me to be the true person I am, and to not be influenced by other people. Due to the fact that I had become so self-aware, new questions started to show up in my journal. Questions like: Where did I come from? What is my origin?, and , Where do I feel most comfortable? My desire to find the answer to these questions led me on my last journey. I felt that in order to help me complete another piece of my puzzle, I needed to know where my parents, and grandparents spent their childhood, where they discovered their own sense of self, and where they finally found their true home. Along with me, Michael MacDonald also had developed a sudden urge to discover where he came from and what his own roots were. The following story describes the parallels and the contrasts of both of our adventures. The adventure of finding your roots is something that can be scary and intimidating, but just like every other adventure in my life; I tackled it with absolutely no caution.
Home Is Where the Heart Is
Each one of us reaches a time in our lives when we suddenly become curious about who we are and where we come from. The answer to this question can either help define who we are as a person, or cause us to escape from our roots and desperately seek a new identity. During his adolescence, Michael MacDonald, found it difficult to connect himself with his roots because he felt that the associated culture was one of racist, poor and ignorant Irish people. However, when MacDonald was able to experience firsthand the land of his people, he found himself overjoyed. He developed a sudden urge to connect with the people of his heritage as well as learn more about it. The story of my roots and how they affected me is both similar and different from MacDonald’s. However, both of our stories have helped us define who we are as people, as well as helped us create identities for ourselves. There is no set definition to the word “roots”. Some people may think that roots are where your heritage lies while others think it is a place where you were raised or where you feel most comfortable. MacDonald’s definition of roots differs from mine in the way of heritage versus home. MacDonald’s roots are in Ireland because that is where his grandfather was born and raised as well as his mother. Ireland is where his mother first took her first steps and his grandfather found the love of his life. MacDonald was not born in Ireland but he knows that he has Irish in him by his red hair and freckled face. His heritage lies in Ireland and therefore that is where is roots are. When I think of my roots, I think of where I was raised and where I experienced the majority of my childhood. As you know I was raised in Granger, Indiana until I was about 10 years old and then moved to New Hampshire. Even though I spent more of my adolescence in New Hampshire I don’t consider it the place where my roots are. Although our definition of roots differ, both McDonald and I felt ashamed of our cultures because we saw firsthand some of the negative stereotypes that were associated with each of them
When I was about 10 years old I had come to hate Indiana. I hated the enormous cornfields, the slow way of life, and I even hated some of the people for being so dumb. I felt like I didn’t belong there and that I was better than Indiana in so many ways. When we finally moved to New Hampshire I was the happiest girl in the world. I was finally leaving the place of slow drivers and even slower talkers. I couldn’t wait to escape that culture and experience a new one. I hated Indiana so much that I tried extremely hard to surround myself with things that were completely opposite from the Indiana culture. I never, ever listened to country music and I had no desire to talk to my relatives from Indiana in the fear that they might try to convince my family and me to move back. McDonald felt the same way about his Irish roots. From all the stories that his grandpa had told him about Ireland being an awful and miserable place to live he had absolutely no desire to visit. “Ireland?” ” I felt sick just at the thought of it. Ireland was the last place on earth I wanted to see” (MacDonald, 173). This quote occurs when he is talking to his grandfather and he has to bribe him to visit Ireland. His experience in south Boston had caused him to have extremely negative opinions about Ireland because of the constant fighting in the streets and large number of drug operations. Since the majority of people that lived in Southie were from Ireland, he figured that everyone in Ireland must be like them as well. “I preferred to think that I had severed myself completely from the ancestors I was sure must have been a wretched ignorant lot...” (MacDonald, 174). It is obvious from this quote that Michael was absolutely nothing to do with this family outside of Boston because of all the crazy stories he has been told. MacDonald and I discovered that our roots were not something that we wanted to define who we were. So, we decided to branch out. In order to escape our cultures MacDonald and I did different things. MacDonald became extremely obsessed with something that was so outside of his culture as well as his comfort zone. His interest in punk rock music allowed him to throw away his reputation of being an Irish kind and create a whole new identity for himself. He was extremely ashamed to be Irish and often tried so hard to hide it by dying his hair and wearing outrageous clothing. He loved going to the clubs in New York and downtown Boston because he was never known as the Irish kid from South Boston. Outside of South Boston he was completely his own person and was never associated with Ireland. Unlike MacDonald, I didn’t get involved in anything that would make me forget I was from Indiana. Instead I tried to pretend I wasn’t from there. I always told my friends that I was born in Florida and let 22
them assume that I was raised there as well. I wouldn’t watch basketball if the Indiana Hoosiers were on and I never mentioned my childhood to my friends. Like McDonald, I wanted no one to know where I was from in fear that they would automatically make those negative stereotypes about me that I was trying so hard to escape from. On October 25, 2009, my grandmother passed away in her sleep. My dad had gotten the call from my grandfather early in the morning and immediately booked the first plane to Indiana. I knew that I would have to go back to Indiana to be there for my grandmother’s funeral and be with the rest of my family in their time of need. I really had no desire to go. Not because I didn’t love my grandmother, (I was actually really close to her) but because I didn’t want to go back to Indiana and experience that awful culture that I had tried so hard to forget about .However, after about 5 hours since the original phone call from my grandfather I was boarding a plane to Indiana. I was dreading it. I wanted nothing to do with this society anymore, and I told myself I would count down the days until our next plane departed from the runway headed toward New Hampshire. To my complete surprise I found myself enjoying Indiana tremendously. I thought the cornfields were beautiful and the slow way of life was just so relaxing. I realized that I had actually missed this culture and its entire people. It was a very eye opening experience for me, and an experience that I needed to help me appreciate my own roots. Similar to me, MacDonald was very hesitant to visit the land of his roots. He had to be bribed by his grandfather in order for him to go. He thought Ireland was a waste of time on his trip abroad and would have preferred to stay in Paris another day. To his surprise he ended up loving Ireland just as much as I learned to love Indiana again. He enjoyed the friendliness of the all of the people he met along the way and the breathtaking lush green fields and clear blue skies.. “Mist came and went, and the weather changed from rain to sunshine, in the way that I come to love about Ireland (MacDonald, 225). In this quote MacDonald is marveling at how beautiful Ireland can be even if the weather is crazy and hectic. It is on this trip that he starts to become proud of his roots. He no longer associates Ireland with racist, drunk people, but rather with warm, funny and friendly faces. With this new found pride McDonald starts to open up more and connect with more people in his family including his mom and his cousins that live in Ireland.
After his visit, MacDonald becomes more accepting of the person he is and the culture that he is a part of. He realizes how lucky he is to be from Ireland and visits the country many more times with his mother and friends. He eventually becomes proud to be Irish and realizes just how much he was missing by not being able to connect with his heritage. â€œIâ€™d come away from my first trip to Ireland wanting to understand more about Southie, and Irish America in general, but also more about my own familyâ€? (MacDonald, 203). This quote clearly demonstrates that Michael discovered something new to appreciate and understand after he returned from Ireland. After I visited Indiana I could not wait to go back. I found myself loving the culture again and actually preferring it to New Hampshire. Going back to Indiana was a huge life moment for me because I finally felt at home when I was there. I felt comfortable and easy to be around the people I had hated so much before. I am now always proud to say that I was raised in Indiana. At the end of the book McDonald feels the same way about Ireland. Although our stories regarding our roots differ, both MacDonald and I eventually recognized a need to connect with the people of our roots. We understood just how important it was to feel a bond that can only be felt between people who have shared the same things we have. Our roots and our culture are what make us who we are today. We have accepted this fact and have allowed them to shape us in positive rather than negative ways. While MacDonald is an Irish boy, and I am a southern Indiana girl, both of us have allowed ourselves to extend our relationships beyond our current residences. These extensions have been beneficial to us by forcing ourselves to move toward instead of moving away.
Conclusion I still vividly remember the feeling I received on top of Cadillac Mountain that cold blistery morning. Waking up that morning I thought it was just going to be another every day hike with my dad and some friends. But that view from the summit changed everything. It opened up my eyes to all the opportunities and experiences I still had left to live. It was as if that clear open sky and rising sun were telling me to get of my but, turn off the TV and live my life. It was a wakeup call from Mother Nature herself, and to be honest, I wouldnâ€™t have wanted it any other way. Through all of my adventures and experiences I have learned numerous amounts of information about myself that I will forever remember. It will be hard for me to ever forget Shadow and the joy he gave me, and that party with Jake will forever be in my mind as one of the best nights I have ever had. Adventures have both defined me and defined my life. I donâ€™t know who I would be today if I didnâ€™t leave Indiana or if I had never discovered country music. My adventures have made me self-confident and extremely self-aware. Not only, did I learn about myself through these adventures but I also learned about other worldly things. With Shadow I learned how to be kind and comforting. With Jake I learned how to be a good communicator and supporter. I had to go on these adventures to discover myself, no one would be able to tell me about them, or tell me about their personal experiences. In order for me to learn about myself, I needed to participate in my own life and not be someone on the sidelines. All of these adventures have led me to discover that my personality is not a simple color by number picture, but instead an insanely complicated jigsaw puzzle whose pieces are scattered about. Finding out my identity has become a long and arduous process which has caused me to engage in a lot of personal reflection. Writing this book has caused me to think a lot about who I am as a person and why I act and think the way I do. It was fun for me to be able to dig into my memory bank and pull out some old adventures that I have had.
Being only 18, many, many more adventures lie ahead of me. Graduating college, getting married, and raising children are just some of the life-changing adventures that I will soon experience. I am looking forward to these adventures as I know they will allow me to find even more puzzle pieces, and allow me to discover more directions on how to assemble these pieces. Granted, I will change along with these adventures, but that change will be welcomed. It will be change that will be both necessary and eye opening to the person that I will become. With open eyes, an open heart, and an open mind I take my next step down my long path of adventures and opportunities; memories await.
About the Author Andrea Wilson is currently enrolled at Nichols College in Dudley, MA. She is pursuing a BSBA in Business Communication with a minor in Economics. Andrea is a member of the Field Hockey team at Nichols College as well as a TA. She enjoys hiking, traveling, country music and watching hockey. Andrea is looking forward to her next four years at Nichols College as well as studying abroad during her junior year. She hopes that this book is inspiring to you and gives you the courage to start your own personal journey of discovery.