My dad was in the Air Force for 20 years. Since I grew up as a military kid, it would come as no surprise if I had fostered a deep sense of American pride. Unfortunately, that’s not what happened. Instead, I learned to foster a deep sense of indifference. In high school, the government confused me and I never made the effort to understand it, so I sat content in my uneducated bliss. I didn’t hate America, but I sure didn’t love it. When I got to college I found myself surrounded by energetic and driven adventurers who shared the same goal: to get out of this country.
America is home to a ton of lazy, fat, self-centered ignorant people who only care about money, celebrities and sports. But every other country? They are full of people who appreciate history, nature, beauty and kindness. They lead carefree, adventurous lives in intriguing cultures. Not to mention, they have stunning mountains and ridiculously clear water (I’m looking at you, Switzerland). Our generation is made up of wanderers who seek to be free and explore, and for some reason, America leaves a bad taste in our mouths.
I recently read a book called “A Walk Across America” in which the author, Peter Jenkins, set out to walk across the country. He began the journey as a disgruntled college student with a strong hatred for America, challenged by a professor to seek out what the “land of the free” is truly made of. Jenkins realized if he was going to hate America, he would need to experience it for himself. As he traveled, he encountered different cultures, beliefs and lifestyles. He built relationships, explored and slowly began feeling a deepening connection to the “home of the brave.” Spoiler alert: he ends up not hating America. Not because someone raved about how great of a country it is, but because he searched for himself.
I’ve got an adventurous spirit, and I’ve always sworn I will not end up living in America. But since coming to college I’ve been fortunate enough to go on multiple road trips and explore the incredible places here. And slowly, very slowly, I’m beginning to understand that America isn’t just home to lazy, fat, self-centered people. It’s home to loving, kind, hardworking adventurers who have intriguing stories.
There are deep forests, dark caves, crisp waterfalls and mountains to be explored. So before you go running off to other countries, give this one a try. The more of this country I see and the more people I meet, the more truthfully I can say: “America the Beautiful.”