1.America is not flat. That lesson took about 4 seconds to come to my attention and I never stopped resenting those purple mountains majesty during the whole trip.
2. You can do anything you put your mind to, cheesiest phrase in the planet but, let’s be real for a moment. I was by no means an athlete before this trip, let alone a cyclist. The physical challenge was so hard so often but you just do it. (Why does that sound sexier than I intended?)
3. There are so many things you have to do that you don’t want to do. I mean, this is true of being an adult in general. When I mean things you don’t want to do, I mostly mean hills.
4. Pride is sometimes a useless emotion. I am a type 1 diabetic and like I said earlier, a non athlete. I often needed to stop to recover from low blood sugars, or pout on the side of the road due to exhaustion. Asking people to slow down or stop with me wasn’t always fun. You never want to feel like you are holding someone back, but you also need to take care of yourself. It’s not weakness, it’s self preservation.
5. Creature comforts are important and I especially mean television. It’s like, I had no idea what was going on in Litchfield, or who was going to be revealed as ‘A’. Taking time away and being in nature is obviously so serene and good for you and stuff but like television, you know? I have never appreciated it more.
6.Working with a real team is more rewarding than I could have thought. I never did team sports growing up; I’ve never been much of a joiner. There is something comforting about having a group of people that some days can annoy the shit out of you, but you know at any given moment if any one of them needed something you would drop what you are doing to help and vice versa.
7.Volunteering makes you poor. I feel like most people knew that but it was new information to me.
8.This generation of youths are ambitious and already make me feel so old but,you know what? We are all just people. I met so many young people who came from amazing schools with amazing degrees, and I felt jealous and oddly intimidated at times. I had wished I had made different choices, but I realized pretty early on that not matter what choices we had made we all ended up in the same place. It was a very hokey but accurate feeling of “it’s never too late for now” you can still do what you want with your life kind of feelings.
9.You might not need to change as much about yourself as you think. I feel like I left for my trip thinking I would come back very different or having all these revelations of what to do with my life. The way I see it, if you are spending the summer volunteering and doing something mildly certifiable you probably aren’t the worst person. I feel like I grew a lot, but it’s more subtle than one great big epiphany. Mostly, I learned to chill out and that I might want to try improv.
10. People do not know enough about Michigan. It’s such an underrated state. I also learned I might have more Michigan pride than I thought. I feel like I spent much of the summer defending the glory of the Great Lakes and being made fun of for the way I pronounce the word “bag”
11.The rules are different in every state. Seriously, you cross a state line and it’s a new ball game:the terrain, the people, and the foliage all can be different. One place there are Sonics and then all of sudden there are In N’ Outs (God willing). It’s a forest and then a desert. With each new place there are new monsters. I’ve seen scorpions, poisonous snakes, horses, goats, bears, armadillos, bears, puppies, great horned owls, coyotes (not all monsters, but still worth mentioning). Side note on coyotes, I once saw a dead one on the side of the road and that was the most disconcerting, like the roadrunner had finally gotten the upper hand. It’s 2015, ya know?
12. I might not have a taste for healthy food. Not that I don’t like fruits and vegetables, but I wasn’t biking across America to not eat Cheetos and drink as much as aspartame as I like.
13. Mostly this whole thing felt so impossible in the beginning, but I’ve learned if you chip away at it diligently, cry in moderation, laugh when something is funny or even when it’s not really funny, daydream a lot and have fun the next, you know you will have accomplished something amazing. This basically the approach I am going to take with my student loans.