On this day 16 years ago, I arrived in a small town called Oakdale with 2 suitcases of clothing and roughly $900 in cash. Each year, on this day, I think back to that event in an unsuccessful attempt to find the same level of confidence that allowed me to travel to the other side of the planet with no plan, no money, no health insurance but still manage to sleep each night believing that everything was going to be ok. As it happens, things worked out brilliantly – I convinced my college to up my partial scholarship to a full one, I convinced the computer lab supervisor that I was deserving of a job despite never having used MS Windows before and most importantly, I convinced myself that it made sense to stay caffeinated enough to maintain a 4.0 GPA despite working 40 hours a week. I lived with guys on parole and didn’t pay their bills, in houses that got flooded every time there was heavy rain, and even in a tiny studio that had no refrigerator (perishables were buried in the snow outside the door) – while I can acknowledge that there were days that it got me down, I always felt like such a lucky guy to have the opportunity to be there.

When I think back to that experience, I cannot help but wonder how I changed so much in just over a decade? I have much more than I could have possibly imagined back then but I cannot help but feel that this seems to have reduced my confidence . Today, I would not have the guts to leave town without cash, multiple credit and ATM cards, confirmed hotel reservations and return tickets. If this attitude is the result of the wisdom that comes with age, I really just want to be young (and stupid) again.

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