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I Lived in My Friend’s Prius for a Month and It Changed My Life

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Illinois State chapter.

I don’t really know why I did it. I still think about my real motive behind boarding a flight to Denver, Colorado instead of home, with nothing planned and my final destination in mind being Utah. I had no idea of where I was staying and no real idea of transportation. I just knew that some guy I barely knew in high school would be waiting there at the airport to pick me up. 

Little did I know that this would change my life. Absolutely, one-eighty turn my outlook on life around, from jobs, education, relationships, and even music. In lack of better words, but not being able to find a phrase that described it more, this would rock my sh*t. 

Being one of two unemployed kids in a Prius driving through Colorado, Utah, Nevada, Arizona, California, Oregon, and Washington, with a few common goals in mind (visiting as many national parks as we can, hiking as much as we can, seeing as much as we can), here are a few things I’ve learned from my time in the hot Vegas desert to the green Redwood trees. 

  1. “What do you do for a living?”

This phrase will be the end of me. Common answers are: “Oh, I’m an accountant,” “Oh, I’m a real estate agent,” or “Oh, I’m a teacher.” But have you ever really stopped to think about how interesting and intricately that sentence is phrased? Why is our work, our job, our contribution to society, the amount of money we make, our reason for living? Why does it equivalent to “living?”

And moreover, why do we care about money so much? 

I can’t explain it much more than this, but when you’re looking at desert canyons that go on for miles, and waterfalls so big and loud you can’t hear yourself think, these things that we buy with money, and supposedly make us look better than others, seem comical. 

  1. Relationships aren’t everything. 

It’s shown in movies, books …everywhere. The perfect person will come along and sweep us off our feet. But, we really don’t need that as much as we think. 

Many of us place so much weight and happiness on our relationships with other people and how they make us feel, that we forget about our relationships in regard to everything else. We forget about how good music makes us feel, how good an amazing book makes us feel, and in this case, how good being in nature makes us feel. There are many things in life that can make us happy and content and fulfilled that are not relationships. Although not for everyone, being on the road has made me the happiest I’ve ever been. 

  1. Disconnect, disconnect, disconnect. 

When you’re on the road, you only have a few things on your mind: where am I going to sleep, what am I going to eat, and what am I going to do today? 

Oftentimes, when I was trapped in a world of modern technology (specifically social media), the comparison of myself never stopped. After scrolling through Instagram for hours, I felt like I wasn’t pretty enough. Or after scrolling through Pinterest for hours, I felt like I wasn’t organized enough. But like I said before, when you’re standing under trees so tall and leaves so green you find your mind silenced, as the crash of waves under the gray sky settles your heartbeat, you realize there is nobody to please but yourself. Unreachable standards are just something constructed by companies to keep you trying…and paying. Breathe that Oregon air in and tell me you really care about what you look like to others at that moment. 

  1. Why am I going to college? 

After I got to college, I had a hard time coming back to the monotonous routine of school, stress, and communicating with others after contently hanging out in the mountains in solitude all summer. I struggled to find my purpose for being in Normal, Illinois, after knowing that so much more was out there that I could explore alone made me my happiest. And now, I am thrown into a place where there are so many social aspects on top of everything else, I couldn’t help but feel like I was missing out on my own life. However, now I realize that I’m going to college because I want to, and I find value in education. I am not going just because it’s simply what I think is best for me or because I think I need to get a job. I know I can still be successful without these tools, but I want to take these resources and knowledge that I have been so lucky to receive. 

  1. Sometimes, change feels like home. 

And I’m not sure why. 

Now, I’m living my regular day-to-day life in college — going to classes, doing homework, and hanging out with friends. However, there are always some days when I wish I was walking the Yosemite half-dome rather than on the quad, and brushing my teeth in the mountains instead of in my bathroom apartment. But, I know for sure that one day I’ll be able to live this life…at least I hope.

Kaylee Sugimoto

Illinois State '24

Hi there, I’m Kaylee! I was born in California but raised in Portland, Oregon. I'm a retired Division 1 athlete, and now study journalism and psychology at ISU. If I'm not on campus, I'm probably on a mountain or somewhere without service in the desert. So don't text, I mean it.