I took a 3 day journey to Miami, Florida and learned a lot more than I was expecting. I fell in love with the city but fell even harder for the people and their stories.
I met a ton of new people but only 3 left me with lessons to share. I hope you enjoy reading their stories as much as I enjoyed listening to them. There are some valuable life lessons to be learned that will help you gain a new perspective.
#1 The Canadian
I stayed in the Freehand, Miami - a sweet little hostel - so I met an eclectic group of people. While I was waiting on my room to be finished, I met The Canadian in the lobby. We started chatting then moved our conversation outside into the beautiful Miami sunlight. He told me he was in the city to attend the Ultra music festival that was the following weekend. Him and his friends would be going to celebrate a birthday, but he came down a few days early to explore Miami. Sounds pretty normal, right? Yeah, but this wasn't an 18th, 21st or 25th birthday they were celebrating. His friend was turning 40! I just think that is so cool. This opened my eyes to the endless birthday opportunities. Forget the "Over-the-Hill" party, I want my friends to take me to a music festival or Vegas when I turn 40. If they don't, I've got the wrong friends. Take time to celebrate life and never think you're too old to do something. So thank you, The Canadian, for getting me excited about the rest of my life.
#2 The Starbucks Man
I needed to charge my phone, so I made my way over to a Starbucks in Lincoln Road Mall. I sat down next to an older gentleman - The Starbucks Man - and had to ask him where the outlet was (Starbucks was definitely hiding that thing). He asked me what I was doing in Miami, and I told him I was there for an interview with a company I didn't know much about. I went on to talk about how I have no clue what I want to do with my life. He asked me a very important question: What are you passionate about? He said the only way you are going to like what you do and truly be successful is to do something you are passionate about. The Starbucks Man had worked for NASA, became a realtor, and now sells workout supplements. He's working on two projects that I find truly inspiring. The first is a documentary. There are a lot of homeless people in Miami, so he started making a documentary to get an idea of why. The Starbucks Man told me that every story involved some sort of abuse. The majority were physically abused at a young age, so lost sight of their self worth. They were not treated like a respected, valuable human being, and they continue to see themselves as worthless and without value. The stories broke my heart and gave me a new perspective. I always believed that homeless people were asking for money to support their drug or alcohol addictions. In most cases, that is probably true, but I now know why they have those addictions. Most of them started abusing drugs to forget their own abuse; they are trying to forget the horrible things that had been done to them because most of them don't even want to be alive. So next time you see a homeless person, try to imagine their story and maybe help them out. The Starbucks Man's second project is like a surf therapy project. Surfing is incredibly difficult, so mastering just a little bit of it feels like a success. His goal is to provide homeless people and soldiers with PTSD this therapy to bring back a sense of self-worth and to move forward. I look forward to seeing The Starbucks Man's projects succeed because I believe he's really got something good going.
#3 The Serbian
This is my favorite and most impactful story. Before I ended up in Starbucks, I ate at the cutest little organic restaurant, where I had the cutest waiter - The Serbian. A table was mad that he was talking to me, so we agreed to meet up for coffee the next morning. Of course, the first two questions I asked him were "Where are you from?" and "Why are you here?" He said he is from Serbia and he is studying in America while his family is back home. A foreigner studying in America... Nothing new to me. The cool thing is he had been there for less than a year and had already lived in 3 major cities: New York City, Chicago, and Miami. Why did he move so many times if he's just working a small job? Well, he didn't like the place, so he moved.
The Serbian said a few things that really stuck with me, and they went something like this:
1. Why stay in a place that you don't like and makes you unhappy?
2. I work to pay bills and enjoy the place that I'm in. I don't need expensive things.
3. Americans overwork themselves to have money sitting in a bank.
All of these are so true. Americans are known for working too many hours and not spending enough time doing things they enjoy with those they love. We work so hard to make money to do what? Most people have plenty to pay their bills, and the rest just sits in a bank account. We don't know why we're working so hard, but we just know we have to because that's what society says. It's either that or people are overworking themselves to make X amount to get the newest iPhone or Mercedes. My iPhone 6 does the same job as the iPhone 7, and a Toyota Corolla will get me from point A to point B just like a Mercedes. A lot of Americans get stuck where they are because they feel like they have to have a certain job. They may hate their job and hate where they live, but they won't do anything about it. That's not a life I want to live. I would much rather travel to new places and find a place a want to stay. If I'm in a place I enjoy, I won't feel the constant need to get out; however when it comes to how I spend my money, I want to spend it on experiences and travels, rather than on material items. I understand that this is not how a lot of people want to live, but The Serbian's perspective on Americans was very eye-opening. He finds us to be materialistic, which continuously leads us to dissatisfaction.
So if you're in college, about to graduate, have recently graduated, or I guess really anyone, here is my advice:
1. Find something you are passionate about and find a way to make a profit from it. It probably won't make you a millionaire, but you'll be happy doing it.
2. Don't accept a job if you aren't excited about it.
3. Don't get stuck. It's okay to look for other opportunities and to move to new places. Yeah, it sounds scary, but if you're unhappy, take the risk.
4. Don't follow someone or ask someone to follow you. If it's meant to work out, it will.
5. On your birthday, don't think "I'm getting old", but say "I'm celebrating another year of my life. What exciting thing can I do for myself?" Some people don't make it to 40, and some don't even make it to 22. Celebrate your life because you still have it.
6. Don't assume you know someones story. You don't know what that person could be going through.
7. Have fun. As cliche as it sounds, just do it. Live a life that you are happy to share with others and that you are proud of. You've only got one life.
If you have any inspirational stories, I'd love to hear them! Leave a comment or send me an email.