With just two simple letters, “o” and “k”, my life would be forever changed. I can still remember the gentle, unrelenting nudge of my dear friend telling me I would be living in a national park with her that summer. I had never really ventured out of my sheltered existence so I cautiously, yet excitedly, agreed. That summer, now almost a decade ago, fundamentally changed who I am and how I see the world. It was the best decision I ever made.
My season in Olympic National Park, although incredibly challenging, showed me a beauty much richer and deeper than I had ever known—in the place, but mostly in the people. I found a community of diverse individuals so different than myself, yet more authentic and transparent than anyone I’d ever known. In just one summer season, my worldview became too large for the small life I had been living, and I found myself saying “ok” to more and more transformational seasonal experiences.
I went on to spend a summer living and working in Glacier National Park, a winter in the US Virgin Islands, 3 months in Uganda, and landing in a career at ACMNP that affords me the opportunity to continue to travel and stay involved in these beautiful communities. To say these seasonal experiences have shaped my life would be an incredibly big understatement; these experiences have saved my life and allowed me to dive deeper into a meaningful and purposeful mindset pushing boundaries and running from a complacent existence.
My biggest advice to anyone reading this… I promise that three months in a seasonal environment like this will radically transform your life and give you three years of life experience in just one summer season. It may be one of the hardest experiences you will have, but you will look back at it as being one of the best. Before jumping straight into a career, invest in yourself first so you can enter the workforce as a person who knows themselves deeper, who can understand and love people better, and as someone who has stepped out of comfort to embrace the wonderful unknown. This could be the summer where everything changes. Are you willing to say “ok”?