I’m a firm believer in doing what you need to do, regardless of what other people think or what they would do in the same situation.
Especially when pigeons are involved.
My sister and I recently went on a trip to Newport Beach—a vacation that was much-needed in my life and one I’ve been looking forward to for a while. I’d never been to the area, but there’s a book series I read growing up that took place in Newport Beach, and I’ve always wanted to go there.
The trip was so much fun—we rented bikes and rode along Huntington Beach, we rode a big Ferris wheel (even though my sister really hates heights and might have freaked out a little when the thing stopped when we were at the very top), we ate dinner at restaurants that overlooked the ocean, we hiked through a scenic canyon and ran up the hills, we ran along the boardwalk at Newport Beach and then checked out the pier, we carefully navigated our way on rocks that look like the ones from the scene in Free Willy when the great orca whale finally gets his freedom, and we became a bunch of shades redder as we enjoyed every ounce of the California sunshine as we could. (Word of advice: Don’t forget sunscreen, especially if pasty white is your natural shade.)
One of my favorite memories, though, happened on our final night. We had decided to grab food somewhere and then have a picnic at the beach. When we got there, though, it was SO packed. Parking was a nightmare, and by some rare spark of fortune, we found a free spot on the street not too far away from the pier. I hooked a U-ie, and we made the short trek there. However, it was so crowded that my sis didn’t seem content with our original plan. We spotted some picnic tables, and she said she would snag one while I went to the restroom. But the look on her face when I started walking toward her was one of someone who was about to be the victim in a horror movie.
And then I saw them—the pigeons.
I don’t like birds much, but my sister really, really can’t stand them. They give her anxiety similar to that of people with arachnophobia. And these birds were surrounding her. It was very clear we were not going to eat at the picnic tables.
I spotted a lifeguard stand that said “NO LIFEGUARD ON DUTY” and suggested we go sit on it and eat our dinner. She asked if that was allowed, but I didn’t see anything saying people couldn’t get on the lifeguard stands. Sure, no one else was doing it, but that shouldn’t necessarily be a factor in important decisions like this. We walked out there, climbed up, and began our beach picnic.
And it was exactly what I’d hoped for—a peaceful final evening on the beach, overlooking the vast wonder of the ocean and feeling the cool breeze blow in the air.
(Side note: That California breeze is no joke, so make sure you always have a jacket or sweatshirt with you in the evenings—especially if you’re from Texas.)
We often have to create our own paths, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s not always best to do what everyone else is doing—they might not even be right. People sometimes say “You do you,” and I think it’s actually really good advice. Not everyone knows what’s best for your situation, and your actions may be way different than what others’ would be—and that’s not a bad thing by any means. If you’re not hurting anyone, what’s the harm in doing what your heart tells you to do?
I’ve been trying to remind myself of this more often. It’s easy to get caught up in hesitation and fear when you’re paving your own path, but sometimes you just have to suck it up and be bold and walk toward the lifeguard stand like you know exactly what you’re doing. For me, in my personal life, that’s meant being braver in letting people know how I feel. Yes, it hurts to share your heart with someone who only breaks it into a thousand tiny little pieces, but at least you did it—at least you let your heart lead the way to do what you needed to do.
Even if it was solely for you.
My sister and I both noticed that where we were in California and where we live in Texas have completely different lifestyles. They’re used to their ways, and we’re accustomed to ours. Neither way is necessarily right or wrong—just different. It’s better that we’re not all the same.
Life is too short to waste chances and prime opportunities because of fear or uncertainty. Don’t let the pigeons ruin everything for you. Those pigeon moments are the ones when you can find alternatives that may be better than what you imagined.
Like eating dinner with your best friend on top of a lifeguard stand at a place you’ve always dreamed of being.