The Journey, Not the Destination

Tiffany - Chicago, Illinois
Entered on June 23, 2007
Age Group: Under 18
  • Podcasts

    Sign up for our free, weekly podcast of featured essays. You can download recent episodes individually, or subscribe to automatically receive each podcast. Learn more.

  • FAQ

    Frequently asked questions about the This I Believe project, educational opportunities and more...

  • Top Essays USB Drive

    This USB drive contains 100 of the top This I Believe audio broadcasts of the last ten years, plus some favorites from Edward R. Murrow's radio series of the 1950s. It's perfect for personal or classroom use! Click here to learn more.

Have you ever gone somewhere and had a lot more fun getting there than actually being there? I have many times. That is why I believe that life is about the journey, not the destination.

A few weeks ago, my friends and I planned to spend the start of spring break going to as many places we could. One of my friends, a great organizer, had a plan all worked out about where we should be and at what time. Of course, on the day of the outing, everything went wrong. Buses were late; friends had to change; stores were closed; wallets were lost; steps were retraced. There was laughter, arguments, apologies, and more laughter. And although we never made it to our final destination, it was the most fun I had in a very long time. That night I thought about the events of the day. As I went through the images in my mind: the sticky popcorn fights, the distinctive smell of exhaust fumes, blowing wishes on dandelions, desperately dashing to cross the street, almost getting hit by cars because of it, the highest chocolate-vanilla swirl ice cream cone, getting lost in crowds of people traffic, the brilliant setting sun, and the twinkling stars; I realized that the unforgettable memories, were the unexpected ones. I probably had a lot more fun than I would have if we had stuck to the plan. I learned that when opportunities present themselves, sometimes you just have to take them, even if it means straying off the predetermined path.

This applies to metaphoric journeys too. If, for example, your goal is to get on the radio so you write a “This, I Believe” essay. The process of writing the essay is so much more valuable than actually making it on the radio. Likewise if you plagiarize your essay or cheat on a test to get an A, you may have reached your destination, but it’s the journey, how you got there that really matters. There are many more examples of situations in life where getting there is so much more interesting than being there. The whole point of road trips for example, is enjoying the journey. Our journey through high school to graduation is another one that I am reminded of now that it’s yearbook-signing time. We sign yearbooks to remember. When we graduate it will be the time we spent here, and the little things that made these years memorable that will matter to us most because truly living life is treating it as more than just a series of checkpoints.

I believe life is about the journey, not the destination, especially considering the ultimate destination is death. Although we all end up the same way, what matters is what we did with our lives. Getting there is just as important as being there. In the end, what matters most is your own personal journey.