Cover image for Make your own lunch : how to live an epically epic life through work, travel, wonder, and (maybe) college / Ryan Porter.
Make your own lunch : how to live an epically epic life through work, travel, wonder, and (maybe) college / Ryan Porter.
Publication Information:
Naperville, Illinois : Sourcebooks, [2014]
Physical Description:
214 pages ; 23 cm


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
646.700842 POR Book Adult General Collection

On Order



Helping young people find their path to a successful future-with or without college

College isn't right for everyone. And as tuition costs continue to rise, more and more young people-from straight-A students to the not-so-avid pupils-are choosing an alternative to the 4-year degree. Yet there is little support to help them find their track to a promising future beyond the classroom.

Make Your Own Lunch empowers and guides young people as they search for their answer to the age-old question: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" Readers discover new ways to pursue their interests and gain experience through travel, philanthropy, and more.

Author Notes

At age 21, Ryan Porter dropped out of college to try to answer the question what do I want to be when I grow up?". The quest for an answer brought him to Japan, Slovakia, Honduras, Austria, Nicaragua, Guatemala, the Czech Republic and more. He quickly discovered that there's more than one question to ask as we make decisions about our future and that there are a bunch of answers. His philosophy is: Young people don't need to have all of the answers by the time they graduate high school, or college for that matter. They need to be encouraged to explore the possibilities and get excited about something... anything. He is CEO and Co-founder of and highly sought after speaker for youth and educators. "

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

After teaching English in Japan for a year, Porter, CEO and cofounder of Raise Your Flag, set out to discover how high school students decide what to do after graduation. What he found isn't altogether surprising. Many college students reported feeling unsure of what they wanted to do and following the advice of their friends and parents, only to feel stuck as a consequence. Porter assures students that they can decide what they want their future to look like and that it doesn't have to be limited to one thing. He also makes it clear that decisions are only the beginning and that planning is crucial to making the life one wants. Porter includes a few exercises and helpful tips as well as blurbs from young people who have "made their own lunches," but his message isn't always convincing. He addresses issues of anxiety and depression but glosses over the fact that not all people have the "same ingredients"-meaning identical opportunities or resources-available to them. Most of the advice Porter gives isn't new, but his target audience-high-school students-could benefit from hearing that it's okay to stop doing something they aren't passionate about and that they won't always be able to control the consequences. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.




→"When I yell, 'Paddle!' look straight ahead and paddle as hard as those pale, skinny arms can paddle!"

It was week two of my four-week trip to Hawaii and Japan. I was hanging out on the north shore of Oahu (the surfing capital of the world), taking surf lessons from a fifty-five-year-old surfing veteran.

My surfing instructor was yelling at me as I waited, lying on my surfboard, in ridiculous anticipation of my first wave. The sun was beating down on my neck, waves were crashing all around me, and I was beginning to get nervous.

"Remember, be patient. Whatever you do, watch out for the pearl!"

Before I had the time to remember that the pearl was surfer slang for a face-plant, my instructor was yelling, "Now! Paddle!"

And with that, I began paddling as hard as my pale, skinny arms could paddle. My adrenaline was pumping as hard as the water under my board, and as the wave began to break, it picked me up and carried me toward the shore. I waited, even though I felt the urge to stand up. My surfing instructor had specifically told me that when you feel the urge to stand up, paddle three more times and then get up.


I quickly slid my hands to the sides of the board, planted my feet, and stood up. I threw my arms out to my sides for balance, and miraculously, I was surfing. I'm sure I looked ridiculous, and maybe a little out of place, but I couldn't have cared less. It felt awesome. I looked down at the wave then up at the beach. I couldn't believe it-I was actually surfing.

In high school, I couldn't have imagined that I would be doing what I do now. Traveling across North America talking to teens about how they too can do the things they want. I never thought I would write a book. I never pictured myself traveling around the world, camping on volcanoes in Guatemala, wearing samurai armor in Japan, surfing in Hawaii, or scuba diving in Honduras. My teachers and counselors never talked about other options.

They never guided with phrases like "be patient" or said anything about taking the time to figure things out. I was told there were three options: go to a four-year college, go to community college, or get a job. I wasn't confident that any of those options was right for me at the time, so I took another route. I decided to make my own lunch.

I'll explain what it means to "make your own lunch" in just a bit. In fact, the whole book is about exactly that. But what I mean in a nutshell is, we spend a ton of our young-adult lives being told what we need to survive and thrive. We're told what our success should look like (and what we should look like) and how we should go get it. And a lot of us end up eating it up and swallowing it even if it doesn't taste good going down.

Make Your Own Lunch is for you if any of the following apply:

• You are not sure if college is right for you.

• You know exactly what you want, but it doesn't include college and your next steps aren't clear.

• You have questions about school or what to do when you graduate.

• You don't know where to start your next adventure.

• You want to meet people who took career paths your counselors and teachers didn't talk about.

• You dream about traveling the world and exploring far-off places.

• You want to have fun and excitement in your life.

• You have trouble making decisions.

• You want to make changes to your school, your community, or the world.

• You want to start your own business.

• You're sick of staying at home talking to stuffed animals on weekends.

• You want to learn another language.

• You want a better relationship with your friends, family, or boyfriend or girlfriend.

• You hear that you can do anything, but you don't know what that means.

• You dream about living the life you want.

• You want freedom.

• You keep hearing people tell you that your dreams aren't realistic.

• You want success.

• You know there's a way to have what you want but don't know how to get it.

• You want a job or career you love.

• You want to study things you are passionate about.

• You don't know how to find your passion.

• You don't know what you want.

• You don't know where to go or what to do.

• You don't want to live like most of the people you know.

• You don't know who you are or who you could be.

Make Your Own Lunch is for you.

"What do you want to be when you grow up?"

That question haunted me for the first twenty-three years of my life. It started in kindergarten as a fun game of imagination, and by the end of high school, it had evolved into a giant monster breathing fire down my neck. High school finished and I still had no idea what I was going to be, so I took some time off to search for an answer. The quest to answer that question brought me to Japan, Hawaii, Slovakia, France, Honduras, Guatemala, Austria, Las Vegas, and more.

I'd love to act like my journey was all part of some master plan that I had carefully and meticulously crafted, mapping it out years in advance, but honestly, I had no idea what I was doing half of the time. The other half of the time, I was just doing what I was drawn to and what I thought would be best for me (and the most fun).

Somehow, while looking for the answer to the question, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I realized the question was wrong. Wrong because there isn't only one thing you can do with your life. Wrong because it makes it sound like there's a direct path from A to B, when really there are a bunch of paths, side adventures, and detours. Wrong because it puts so much pressure on young people to "figure it out" immediately.

Once I started searching, I started uncovering new questions and a ton of really exciting answers. I began realizing that you really never have to have it all figured out. The next step is what's most important now, and it's fine if beyond that is a bit of a question mark.

I wrote this book so you don't have to waste time trying to answer ridiculous questions like, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" or "How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?"

I wanted you to know that it's perfectly OK and perfectly normal to not know the answer to either of those questions. It's OK to take some time to figure yourself out and explore the many different paths that will lead you to the answers you're looking for.

This book was written over six years from various planes, trains, cars, hotel rooms, hostels, and the occasional jungle. Sometimes I wrote it on my office computer, other times on my laptop, and a few times with actual pen and paper. My goal was never to give you a specific plan, or 347 Strategies for Success in Career, Education, and Life, because for some people there could be a bunch of steps, and for others there are just a few to reach their desired destination.

You'll figure out the steps you need to take. You'll come up with your own plan to make it happen. And you'll develop your own strategies for career, education, and life success.

Some parts of this book are really short; others are a bit longer. Take your time, read the stories, and while reading, write down any ideas or inspiration you might have. If while you're reading, you feel inspired to do something, call somebody, go somewhere, or build something, do it. This book isn't going anywhere...unless you left it on the subway, in which case, it is now a pillow for a tired backpacker.

Last, thank you for reading this. From this point, you begin (or continue) building your own epic life through experience, work, travel, wonder, and (maybe) college. Right now. It's go time.

-Ryan P.

Excerpted from Make Your Own Lunch: How to Live an Epically Epic Life Through Work, Travel, Wonder, and (Maybe) College by Ryan Porter All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Table of Contents

Step 1 Setting the Tablep. 1
1 It's Lunchtime! An Introductionp. 2
Time to set the table (a.k.a: what's this book all about)
2 Make Your Own Lunchp. 8
How to live an epic life and other helpful hints
3 My Lunch Storyp. 16
4 A little background on making your own lunch through trial and error trial and error.
4 Bento Boxp. 28
Sometimes the greatest adventures come from the simplest decisions-like deciding to lire juuust outside your comfort zone.
Step 2 Cookin' It Upp. 39
5 The Main Ingredient: Decisionp. 40
Decision is the ultimate superfood.
6 Point, Smile. & Hopep. 48
How to know yourself enough to identify what you want without guessing, crossing fingers, wishing on falling stars, and other terrible ways of deciding your future!
7 Understand Your Menup. 56
Once you know yourself, know what your options are "out there."
8 Slice, Dice, & Chopp. 62
Cut off all alternative options
9 What Goes In Must Come Outp. 68
You can make decisions, but you can't "decide" the consequences.
10 Get Hungryp. 74
Begin making your ultimate list
Side Dish: Your Personal Menup. 81
Twenty-One Questions to Get You Started
Step 3 Your Balanced Diet: Map it Outp. 83
11 The Four Food Groupsp. 84
Four decisions you can make right now
12 What's in Your Cupboard?p. 96
Discover your skills and talents and how to make them work for you, and how to move forward if somethingÆs missing (without focusing on what's missing!)
13 Food Group Ip. 108
Decide what you will have
Side Dish: All You Can Eatp. 113
When What You Love and What You Do Meet
14 Food Group IIp. 116
Decide where you will go
15 Food Group IIIp. 124
Decide what yon win do
16 Food Group IVp. 132
Decide who you will be
Step 4 Eat Up!(a.k.a.Chew, Digest, Repeat)p. 139
17 Recommended Daily Intake I: Visionp. 140
Create a vision for your epic life and administers daily dose of your dreams
18 Recommended Daily Intake II: Actionp. 152
How to come up with an action plan and then actually act on it
19 It Doesn't Always Taste Goodp. 162
Everybody has obstacles-not everybody will move past them, but you can
Side Dish: Sweet & Sourp. 173
Choose to See the Good in Every Situation
20 Spit It Outp. 176
How to quit the stuff that's holding you back and politely reject the naysayers you love who love you too
Step 5 Chocolate-Covered Everything: Reap the Rewards of Hard Work, Realized Dreams, and All Things Sweetp. 189
21 Your Food Is Getting Coldp. 190
Procrastination is not a Recommended Daily Intake. Start doing something with your epic ideas now!
22 Itadakimasup. 200
It's time to say thank you
23 Dig Inp. 204
Begin living your epically epic life of work, travel, wonder, and (maybe) college
Big-Ups & Shout-Outsp. 210
Resources & Toolsp. 213
How to Contact Mep. 215
About Ryanp. 216