To try to name one piece of media that influenced me would be impossible, so I’ll just start from the beginning. Growing up, the most important thing in my life was school. Being a first-generation American on both sides of my family, I was held to very high standards. My parents, as most do, wanted me to have all of the success in the world, and strived to give my sister and I the opportunities they never had growing up. While this did involve being mildly spoiled, it came hand in hand with a lot of strictness and discipline. Above all, my parents stressed academic excellence, and so from a very young age, I was reading at advanced levels; and ever since I could read–ever since I could understand the media around me–that media influenced my dreams and ambitions. First, around the age of 7, I had dreams of becoming a paleontologist–or, as I called them, “dinosaur scientists’. This was largely due to my mother constantly leaving the TV on and tuned into channels like the History Channel, A&E, and the Discovery Channel. Then, at age 9, after reading a book about volcanoes, I decided that those were so much cooler then old dinosaur bones, and subsequently told everyone who would listen that I wanted to be a volcanologist. That didn’t last very long, though, because once I found out about outer space, I was completely enthralled by the universe and everything within it, known and unknown. I still chuckle whenever I see the “I <3 NASA’ I had etched into my bedroom wall next to my light switch.
Then, when I was 10, I read the “Great Illustrated Classics’ versions of 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Journey to the Center of the Earth, and discovered a fascination for travel. This trend continued, and I’ve had ambitions spanning from the world of the culinary arts to the fashion industry to the visual arts to wizardry, after reading the Harry Potter series (just kidding!), to history, and even human sciences. Nonetheless, my yearning to travel never faded. Then, through exposure to shows like Ugly Betty and No Reservations, to books like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson, Kitchen Chinese by Ann Mah and Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain, movies such as Blood Diamond and The Devil Wears Prada (both 2006), I was introduced to the world of journalism.
From the moment I could comprehend the media around me, it shaped the world from something big and scary to something that I wanted to understand, explore, and share with everyone. Even thinking back to my first ambitions, I’ve always been fascinated with discovering and learning about the things that I didn’t know. This all ultimately brought me to where I am today: 20 years old and in pursuit of a career in travel writing. Having finally chosen what I want to do with my life, I realize that I never would have made it to this conclusion without the media around me; and I find it interesting that that very industry is the one I’ve decided to dedicate my life to.