In my last semester of college, I found myself more lost than when I started. I set a goal to graduate in four years. Despite transferring from the University of Florida to the University of Akron, changing my major and the unexpected passing of my older brother, I did it. So there I was, sitting at my college graduation and thinking, “now what?”
I decided I needed a short break from reality. I made a list of the top places on the East Coast that I have never visited, and I mapped out my road trip. It would be a two-week drive to Asheville, North Carolina; Charleston, South Carolina; Savannah, Georgia; and finally Daytona Beach, Florida.
Of course, no trip is complete without a bump in the road. Halfway to North Carolina, I had to stop in the Middle of Nowhere, West Virginia, to have a tire inspected. While waiting for my car to be serviced, I sat next to an older woman who was a native of the area. We joked about my situation and about the fact we are both clueless when it comes to cars and general maintenance. She explained to me that her husband of 30 years recently had passed away and he had always taken care of things like this. I told her that I recently had lost a loved one, too, and we instantly bonded over our grief.
Not long after, my car was ready to hit the road. When I was saying goodbye to her, she joked that in the South people start stories with “y’all aren’t ever going to believe this” and that my tire was one for the books.
Finally, I made it home with a new perspective. I realized that my road trip wasn’t about the shops in Asheville, the best oysters in Charleston or even the perfect weather in Daytona. It was about the kind, warm stranger I met on a fluke in Bluefield, West Virginia.
I learned that if we all threw our problems into a pile, we would quickly jump in to get our own back. Maybe this realization is my acceptance of my own loss, maybe it’s me growing up (doubtful), or maybe it is discovering that your life is what you make of it. I’m determined to make the most of it.
I enrolled in Point Park University’s MBA/MA in public relations concurrent degree program and accepted my internship at Bravo Group. After two weeks and 2,000 miles, I found myself. I was on the road back home to Pittsburgh.
Caitlin Hull, Pittsburgh office