The Illinois State Fair is certainly one of he most prominent and most attended events of the entire summer for those of us who live in Springfield. It's a huge excuse to waste money on an unhealthy excess of fried food, beer, and sub-par live music. Most people who live in my hometown have gone to the State Fair every year since they were born, myself included. The end of the summer isn't complete without a funnel cake and a ride back to the main gates on the sky glide.
There are also a lot of rides at the fair. For the most part, I have done my best to avoid them from year to year. The tall rides that take you every which way and throw you upside down scare the shit out of me, and I would usually just watch my friends ride them while I waited on the sidelines and ate cotton candy. No big deal.
This year, I returned to the fair on it's opening night with a new group of friends. I've grown incredibly close to the women I work with at my summer job, and it was basically a given that we were all going to spend one of our last nights together in the same town at the Illinois State Fair. After we had all ingested two days worth of calories via corn dogs and nachos, the group made it's way to the back of the fairgrounds, where the rides are located. I expected to do my usual schtick, standing on the edge of the rides and watching everyone else come to the verge of vomiting on the Ring of Fire. I was wrong.
My friends made my buy five ride tickets, and forced me to use every single one. As I strapped myself into the shoddy looking machine that turned me and every else on the ride upside down multiple times, I both feared for my life and began to fill up with intense excitement. The ride began , and I laughed the entire duration of it. The rides were fun, and I'm lucky that I visited the fair with people who forced me to go on them.
It's important to surround yourself with people who will push you to do scary things that have the chance to benefit from in the end. Because of this group in particular, I've gone to downtown music festivals, dates, parties, and, of course, carnival rides that I would have been too nervous to do without encouragement. My summer has been full of adventures that I'm not sure that I would have experienced without someone else telling me to.
It's so easy to get into a comfortable routine, to stay in a small bubble of only things that fit inside your comfort zone. As humans, we like being comfortable, and feel that we can thrive the best in situations where we are 'protected'. But I learned recently that, personally, I thrive and have the most fun in settings that take me outside of my security. I think that most people do. Sometimes we can make ourselves cross that line alone, but a lot of times, it takes encouragement from others. It's really important to surround yourself with people who will motivate you to do all the things that scare you.
There are a lot of really scary events that are coming up for me. Graduation, finding a 'real' job, and the potential of moving far away from home are all things that, combined, make me terrified as hell. I'm so scared of the future and all of the things that come with growing up. However, I'm lucky enough to have friends who turn 'terrifying' into exciting and push me to do the things that are going to help me grow the most.
Be surrounded by people who push you to be the best version of yourself, and make sure to be that person for everyone else in your circle.
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