It’s time to take off the training wheels

Kelly Byer

“What should I write?” When I’m unsure, which happens quite often, I ask others for advice. While that is not always a bad thing in moderation, it can lead to dependency, indecision and uninspired ideas.

Ultimately, a decision can only be made by the decider. (No, I’m not talking about George Bush).

While this might not be a revelation to many of you, realizing you are responsible for yourself can be scary, especially if it is me we’re talking about.

College is a time when many people leave home to live on their own, taking on the responsibilities that come with being independent.

Just living in a dorm, however, and buying your own groceries doesn’t make you an independent person. Maturity isn’t determined by age. It is learning from experiences and deciding what is best for you. And no one else can do that for you.

It’s taken about two months in Ireland for me to fully realize that. No one is responsible for making me stay in bed when I’m sick, teaching me to navigate an unfamiliar city or ensuring my teeth are brushed before bed. It’s up to me.

While I’ve done pretty well on the last one, two weeks with a cold and difficulty with directions helped me to realize that I should probably pay more attention to what I do.

After all, that is how you learn to make decisions, through imitation and experience. You imitate what you have been taught and react to what you have experienced.

With no one telling me to take it easy, or rather that it doesn’t have much effect from many miles away, I continued to go out as always. That of course didn’t help my recovery and resulted in the loss of my voice for a few days.

But when it’s Giant’s Causeway or my voice, I think the choice is one of the easiest to make without advice. Eventually, I realized I had to look after myself and spent a week declining invitations and abstaining from excursions.

Nothing makes you appreciate those who looked after your well being more than not having them. Having to choose medicine that is a bit different and craving the curing power of chicken soup can leave you wanting the comforts of home.

Also, realizing that I would have to find the hostel in a city by myself if separated from friends encouraged me to be more aware of my surroundings. While visiting unfamiliar places, I have to remind myself that the people I’m with are not my parents and won’t be holding my hand all the time.

While this is a somewhat scary idea, it is also quite liberating. I will be the one steering my life. Sure, I’m bound to take a few wrong turns. But whether the decision turns out to be a good or bad one, it will help shape the road ahead of me – a road I hope will lead to even more interesting and eventful experiences.

Kelly Byer is a sophomore newspaper journalism major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].