If I had to grow up to be a holiday, I think I would be Independence day. The 4th of July is the poster boy of summer. As much as a holiday can, it represents everything that is important to me in life and what I strive to accomplish every chance I get. Not only does it hold great historic significance that we celebrate through the consumption of grilled foods and playing with fire in the sky, but due to the time of year, it is a holiday that encourages adventure. For a lot of people, it is a time to get outdoors, kayaking, climbing, fishing, biking, you name it, there are people doing it over the 4th of July.
It is estimated that 155 million hot dogs are consumed in America each year over the 4th of July weekend. I am proud to be an American and contribute to that number. I love hot dogs. But more important than meat in tube form July 4th represents the independence to live the way you choose. Summer is in full swing and I have already ticked a few adventures off the list for the year. But really I have just wet my whistle and I realize that time is running out for all the other adventures I want to accomplish this year. I am glad I have the freedom to pursue my passions and adventures.
Independence means a lot of different things to individuals. It may be doing what you want when you want, or the opportunity to be unique or maybe it is just the freedom to choose what toppings to put on your hot dog. For me it is the combination of so many things. I like my style to be different, my adventures to be unique and my thoughts to make you think differently. That is my way of being independent. Sure, I have a 9-5 job, my hair is cut the same as everyone else that walks out of the barber shop and I love to ski just like the other 1.5 million skiers in Utah. That does not mean that I am not unique, It does mean that there are many other people out there like me. But I can still be an independent individual and not fall into stereotypes.
Unfortunately we see it all to often where someone discovers a new passion and they try to mimic someone else instead of making it their own. As a young 20 something, I still had hopes of maybe being a professional in one of my passions. Getting paid to ski, or kayak was something that I always dreamed of. Once I realized that I was just dreaming and I would never be a professional athlete, I had to figure out how my passions would fit into where my life was headed. This is where I had the opportunity to exercise my independence. I wanted to kayak all over the country but I did not really want to devote my life to being a dirtbag living out of my car for years, which is the typical stereotype for any strong kayaker. I wanted to finish my education, earn some money and see what opportunities present themselves. I made my passion my own and pursued it the way I wanted and exercised my independence.
Go out and do your own thing. Maybe you are a vegetarian that loves a hot dog every once and while. Maybe you are a Phish loving, stick it to the man hippy that loves to wear designer jeans. You could be the MMA fighter that spends his time outside the ring quilting with the old ladies in the neighborhood. Whatever drives you, do not let stereotypes define you.