When I was 18, I moved out of my parents house and found a freedom I wasn't sure what to do with. It was exhilarating - I could make whatever choices I wanted to. I could skip my college classes, stay up way too late, eat crappy food, drink too much, and no one was there to hold me accountable, except myself... and I didn't always do a great job at that. Obviously, there were repercussions to my lifestyle choices... my grades, body, and mind all gave me the feedback I didn't really want when I made poor decisions, but it didn't seem to stop me.
The further I deviated from the structure and values I grew up with, the more I struggled to find out who I really was and where I belonged. Eventually, I found my way, trying to take the best from my youth and from what I learned in those young adult years. I look back and cringe at some of my behavior, but also know that I am who I am partly because of those days.
I think we all go through this time of self discovery... for some the road is relatively smooth, but for others we might find that we've gone completely off road. Whatever the path we take, we hope to find a good fit in the end.
My nephew, Quentin Super, recently wrote a book, The Long Road North, to share his story of growth during his college years. He documented how he found himself behaving in ways that didn't feel genuine to him and what it took for him to introspectively review his actions so he could start living the life he craved.
His journey included an actual journey or, I should say, a series of journeys on his bicycle. He and his friend, Rhino, started riding their bikes around town, and then adventured further until they found themselves riding from St Cloud, MN to Winnepeg one chilly spring break in March of 2015.
Their trip was filled with challenges, whether it was the wind, tests of endurance, or even tests of friendship, but they made the grueling journey there and back. It gave my nephew time to think and realize what he was capable of. It may not have resulted in a revolutionary shift in his behavior or who he was, but it did contribute to the man he's growing into.
I read Quentin's book within 2 days, and while I didn't identify with his experiences (let's just say, it's a little weird to read intimate stuff about your nephew), I did recognize the struggles and growth that you go through at that age. I'm not sure his book even captures the growth I've seen in him personally. I'm immensely proud of him as I know he made a physical journey that I don't think I would have had the physical or emotional strength to pull off myself at that age (or any age).
Also, being the good nephew he is, he asked me to take his picture for the book and for an article written about him in Immersion magazine (a magazine in which he writes for as well). Let's just say that I was honored to do so... here are a few pictures from our last photo shoot.