The Click That Changed My Life

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A little over a year ago, I stumbled upon this Instagram ad that was recruiting a campus leader at my school for a company I had never heard of - Choose a Challenge. Their promise of an epic trip for an extremely low out-of-pocket cost intrigued me and, frankly, left me thinking this was too good to be true.

Choose a Challenge’s ad stood alongside the countless other ads I scrolled past promising “organized student trips”,  the chance to “get paid to adventure”, and for “affordable global travel” - all of which targeted my desire to explore the world and save money at the same time. What they did that really set them apart was also target my desire to make an impact on the world while traveling affordably. 

On a normal day of scrolling through my feed I don’t give these sponsored ads much thought, but I have to admit they did an incredible job showing me things that pertained to my life, shopping habits, and desires - almost to the point that I think my phone can read my mind.

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That decision to apply, to just give something new and uncharted a try, was made on a whim and it changed the course of my life in more ways than I could have imagined.

What Hooked Me

It’s been over a year since I clicked on that ad and so much has happened between then and now. When I try to think back and understand what drove me to choose this challenge (pun intended😏), these are the things that come to mind:

  • They offer the opportunity to travel affordably, which is obviously ideal for a budget-conscious college student like myself.

  • The challenge of fundraising close to 20 times more than I ever had before, defying everyone’s beliefs for what I’m capable of.

  • The challenge of climbing to the highest point in Africa, and the idea of even going that far away to Tanzania, is new and scary and crazy exciting!

  • The opportunity to hold a leadership role at my school, as a Campus Leader, and make a lasting impact on Stony Brook University and its students.

  • To give me the chance to influence others to do more, do better things with their lives, and to go out of their comfort zones.

  • The offer to be Stony Brook’s first-ever campus leader and build a foundation that would continuously raise money for amazing and reputable charities, while also influencing Stony Brook students for years to come.

  • The chance to not only put a unique leadership role on my resume, but also an incredible adventure that is sure to be a conversation starter in future job interviews.

Another benefit was meeting so many incredible people along the way!

Another benefit was meeting so many incredible people along the way!


Living Life Outside Your Comfort Zone

The decision to click that ad and let google auto-fill my contact information into the form (I’m not lazy, it’s just wildly convenient) was “on a whim,” but following through with interviews and leader contract signing relied heavily on the events in my life during the months leading up to that initial click. 2018 was full of spontaneous, impactful, and somewhat crazy decisions that took me to two new states and a brand new country.

I started off my year by packing up my life and moving north to work in a completely unknown field in an unknown place with people i didn’t know…scary, right? It was, but it was worth it. I spent that winter break teaching snowboarding in Killington, VT, meeting people from all over the world, improving my personal snowboarding skills, and gaining invaluable customer service experience as well. This experience inspired me to make the conscious effort to go further outside my normal scope for opportunities in the future.

I took that advice the following summer by buying a one-way ticket to New Orleans. After a series of unfortunate and somewhat tragic circumstances, I ended up broke, alone and stranded in this unfamiliar place, surrounded by complete strangers. After (admittedly) some tears, I sat down and thought through my experience in Killington and how well that worked out with so many unknown factors. That gave the drive to turn a seemingly ruined and pointless trip to NOLA into an incredible experience. I learned to ask for help, work harder than people ask me to, and welcome strangers in to my life. This resulted in very meaningful and valuable relationships that I still hold dearly today.

This collection of experiences in the year leading up to seeing that ad is what ultimately pushed me to take action and step out of my comfort zone yet again. Now, having successfully finished my journey as a Campus Leader, I would do it all over again. I would go through the stress of moving into a state full of unknowns and the fear of being stranded and alone over and over again, because thats what made me into the kind of person that would pledge to lead a group of people to the top of the tallest free-standing mountain in the world only after fundraising $6,000 each. It may sound crazy, but it was the best decision of my life.

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” — William Faulkner

“Always dream and shoot higher than you know you can do. Don’t bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself.” —William Faulkner

More to come… 

Stay tuned for the next part of my three part series about being a Campus Leader for Choose a Challenge where you’ll here about my first steps as a CL, recruiting a team and fundraising for an amazing cause.