I’ve been home for a few days now but I’ve been putting off writing this final post because it just seems so impossible to sum up all of my experiences into a few paragraphs. I could list out all the places I’ve been, the people I’ve met, and the things I’ve done, but somehow that wouldn’t accurately wrap everything up. Although all those tangible things are unique and incredible, it really is the smaller transformations that make me come back to the Student Conservation Association every summer. I return again and again, eager for the drop in my stomach when I step on the plane; the chance to reinvent myself free of previous definitions; the forced outgoingness and fast bonding between small crews; the uncertainty and confusion of the first day of work; the slow, almost undetectable development of security and confidence with coworkers, superiors and responsibilities; and the peace of contentment as the plane touches down again, bringing me home. These tiny moments could never be measured and only I feel their effects, but nevertheless they are the reason I continue to push myself beyond my perceived limits.
Perhaps I am not much different than the person I was just ten weeks ago – I still speak the same, look the same, walk the same – but the allure of going on adventures isn’t to change those things. I believe the desire to experience the world comes from an innate curiosity about what is different or inexplicable, and each time we pause to consider another way of life or another perspective, we grow a little as a human being. Everything leaves its mark on you, even if only to reaffirm what you already believe, because how can you justify your way of life if you have never experienced a different one? I may never return to Alaska, but my short time there has made me a more confident, daring, responsible person, and therefor has altered my life. As a result, I look forward to even more exciting and terrifying adventures in order to not only broaden my worldview, but also stretch myself as an individual.