Quarter Life Epiphany : Marisa’s Story

Today’s Quarter Life Epiphany brought to you by Marisa

While you heard from Marisa a few weeks ago (here), today she’ll be sharing her Quarter Life Epiphany story in-depth.


Quarter Life Epiphany Marisa Travel

My alarm clock rang at the ungodly hour of 5 a.m. It was the dawn of my very first day of college – my parents had returned home the day before and I was officially on my own. There was no logical reason for me to be up this early. Classes wouldn’t even start for a few more days. No, I was up before the sunrise so that I could get a free ball cap. I was officially in college.

Freshman sunrise is held every year the day after the freshmen’s parents leave. It was a ritual at my school and they bribed students to wake up early by promising them free things. Typical college. So I woke up, got more ready than I should have (I wasn’t meeting my husband that morning), and headed down to the park where everyone else was gathering.

Pepperdine University is built on the side of a mountain and has enough stairs to climb up to Mt. Everest. I proceeded to get lost but eventually made my way to the park. As promised, I received the coveted ball cap, which was sadly unimpressive.

I seriously woke up at 5 for that?

On the bright side, they also provided us with acai bowls, which was a brand new introduction to me. I had always thought that acai bowls were a snooty hippie food. Boy, was I wrong! Acai bowls are delicious and now a staple of my diet in Malibu.

So I grabbed my acai bowl and sat down on a bench by myself to enjoy the sunrise. I didn’t know anybody else there, so I accepted my loner status and tried to make the best of the sunrise. While I sat there, I began reflecting on the journey that was beginning for me. College would be some of the most formative years of my life, but did I really want to spend the next seven years doing nothing but studying?

No. That was the last thing I wanted to waste the best years of my life on. I couldn’t exactly drop out of school before it even started, but I knew that I had to do something. I already had plans to join a sorority, participate in intramurals, and work as a news reporter, but I felt as though all of those activities would be work. I needed something fun.

As the sun rose over Malibu and the Pacific Ocean, I couldn’t help but be in awe of everything that God had created. Here I was, only 18 years old, and I was living where everybody else vacationed. Even in a small city of 13,000 people, there was so much to see and do? Right then and there I decided to explore Malibu and the surrounding area as much as I could in the following year… after I headed back to my dorm to take a nap. Waking up at 5 a.m. had me wiped out.

Unfortunately, I made the quintessential Pepperdine mistake that nearly all students make – I became overcommitted to various activities and clubs. My extra time between classes was filled with work, homework, practices, and meetings. I barely had enough time to eat and sleep, let alone explore Southern California. That being said, I did see quite a bit of the area. Every Sunday I attended a very small church in Thousand Oaks that had a congregation of senior citizens. They were so warm and welcoming and I loved learning about their community. I also discovered that hanging out in certain coffee shops will get you up close with celebrities (hello Kardashians and Liam Hemsworth). Not too bad for a freshman in college.

I knew that my escape to Germany my sophomore year would be much needed. I had exhausted myself in high school and was beginning to do the same in college. Studying in Germany gave me an opportunity to explore the world on my own and to truly experience life abroad. Taking a trip or vacation somewhere only allows a glimpse into what life is like elsewhere. I wanted to experience life like a local.

So there was my quarter life epiphany. It wasn’t a grand event that made the world stop spinning on its axis. Instead, it was a peaceful agreement I made with myself on the hills above Malibu. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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The Traveling Story Girl Blog


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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