Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve always dreamed of flying away to faraway places. Every time I would see an airplane, my attention would dissipate for a moment while my 6-year-old self would ponder where the plane was going.
It wasn’t long after our first family vacation to Florida that my interest in flying quickly became one of the consuming parts of my life. By the time I turned 15, I had flown well over 344,000 miles to four states. At that point, many people — especially my age — might consider this an accomplishment, or just insane.
The truth is every single one of those miles was flown for a family vacation; one where everything was planned to a tee, months in advance. I wasn’t happy; I wanted something more. I wanted something — a lifestyle change, if you will — that allowed me to travel more often, to more places, doing whatever I wanted, and I never stopped searching for how I could l achieve that.
The day that I turned 16, I somehow convinced my parents that it would be a good idea to let me fly to Los Angeles, California for a day and fly back home that night. I did it — and it was one of the best days of my life. It also was the day that forever changed my life.
Knowing that those around me had enough confidence in me to let me do that truly gave me the faith to that I really could travel on my own. Since I took my first solo trip to Los Angeles, I’ve flown well over 100,000 miles on my own in the last three years to 28 states and two countries.
I’ve enjoyed so many amazing opportunities from having lunch with longtime Facebook acquaintances to taking a three-day trip across the country first class on Amtrak.
Having the lifestyle that I have right now, and being able to travel as often as I do, has given me the confidence and ability to excel in my college classes so that I can focus every aspect of my life on what truly matters to me.
Traveling has shaped me — and I would not give up my globetrotting lifestyle for anything in the world.
The Elephants in My Backyard: A Memoir, Rajiv Surendra (Regan Arts, November 8, 2016)
Rajiv Surendra was filming Mean Girls, playing the beloved rapping mathlete Kevin Gnapoor, when a cameraman insisted he read Yann Martel’s Life of Pi. So begins his “lovely and human” (Jenny Lawson, author of Furiously Happy) tale of obsessively pursuing a dream, overcoming failure, and finding meaning in life.
When Rajiv is convinced that the lead role in Life of Pi was essentially written for him to play, he sets out on a journey that takes him to South India, Maine, Munich and beyond. Searching for his place in the world and discovering that not everything we wish for comes to fruition, Rajiv learns more about himself than he ever could have imagined.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
David McDonough, 19, is studying Computer Information Systems at Beacon College in Leesburg, Fla., the first college or university accredited to award bachelor’s degrees primarily to students who learn differently. His interests include travel, photography and aviation. His goal is to land a job that allows him to travel whenever and wherever he wants. For 2017, his goal is to take his passion and experience for aviation and create an online blog under his social media brand — SharperTravel. You can follow more of his travels on Instagram @SharperTravel.