Strangers like me: Meet me, yes me, Katie

Hey y’all! Happy Thursday! It’s time for another installment of “The Strangers Like Me.” This week’s edition is going to be a bit different because HEY, I’m done with staying in hostels. After a rousing round of bed bugs and creepy men at my last hostel in Brussels, I’m thankful to be staying in Airbnb rooms for the two weeks (!!!) I have left of traveling.

Since I’ve put so many strangers on the spot, asking them some of the most existential questions ever about happiness and fulfillment, I figured it’s only fair I ask myself the same tough questions. This post will serve as a conclusion to “The Strangers Like Me” for this trip to Europe. No worries though, it’ll take on new life once I’m back home in the good ol’ USA. Also, be on the lookout for tons of new posts I have coming your way the next couple of weeks. With my time here quickly coming to an end, let’s just say I have a lot of feels worth exploring. 

Katie Quine

Meet Katie from Charlotte, N.C.

Where’d I meet me? 
The details are a little fuzzy, but it was probably the first time I looked in a mirror.

Why am I traveling? 
I’m on an international quest to meet someone weirder than me, so UNC gave me a scholarship to essentially do just that. Jury’s still out as to whether I’ve actually found the person.

Where else would I like to go?
After meeting so many fun-loving folks from Australia, I’ve recently made a resolution to live every day like I’m Australian. It’d be pretty neat to go that glorious, sun-basked, snake-ridden continent. But as for an option that’s friendlier to my wallet, I’d love to make a roadtrip up the East Coast now that I’ve got some friends who have moved up north.

What was the happiest day of my life? 
Dear Lord, why did I ask people this expecting one clear answer? I guess the first one that comes to mind is the day I auditioned for “American Idol” as a joke in 2011. The whole experience was totally ridiculous.

Basically, producers, not celebrity judges, handle the first round of auditions, sorting through a crowd of thousands of show hopefuls. If they believe someone is TV-worthy — which can mean this person is either phenomenally good or incredibly awful — they hand out a golden ticket and send him or her through the winners’ exit to the next round of auditions. Knowing I’m a bit out of pitch, I was afraid I’d be handed a golden ticket confirming that I’m actually the worst singer ever, which the whole world would soon know.

When I was belting out Maroon 5’s “She Will Be Loved” for the judges, I totally faked the confidence thing, shaking my hand around in the sky, acting like I was a regular Beyoncé. I was still sent through the losers’ exit, proving my mediocrity. The camera man hiding behind the door was hoping to catch me in a post-audition, You’ll-be-sorry tantrum but was quite confused to see me smiling. I didn’t win a gold ticket. It was the first time in my life I was so excited to just be average.

What’s on my bucket list? 
Well, my bucket list has 120 items on it. As for what I’m most eager to cross off next? Bungee-jumping. Then? Publishing a book. Maybe it’d make sense to reverse those in case I don’t survive …

What are my thoughts on the United States, which is ranked 17th in the United Nation’s 2013 World Happiness Report?
We definitely prioritize happiness as a culture, which is great, but I think we sometimes go about trying to achieve it in the wrong ways. The “pursuit of happiness” has come to mean having our happiness and ultimately our lives validated by others. “How many ‘Likes’ can I get on the Instagram picture of me blowing out the candles on my birthday?” “There’s no way I can eat dinner out by myself.” The fun of the moment can sometimes be spoiled when someone needs to be there to bear witness to it. It’s OK to be alone and still smile like an idiot. That’s what this trip has taught me. But of course, having friends around is wonderful, too, and I can’t wait to return to my American ones soon.