Accepting change has not always been easy for me. Part of me is a homebody, who likes a small circle of friends, and who is very close with family. The other part of me is so curious about the world and loves adventure. With that being said, it was not exactly easy to move across the world, knowing there was a chance I might not see my family and friends, my home, my dog, my comfort zone for a whole year. On the day I was to leave I woke up so anxious, knowing that a big change was about to happen and not really knowing how I felt about it.
So far, this journey of newness and adventure and growth has come with it’s ups and downs, and with it’s good days and bad days. There are moments where I feel like I could do anything I set my mind to, go anywhere in the world, meet tons of new people and go to tons of new places and find joy in the littlest things. There are also moments where I miss eating my mom’s spaghetti, arguing with my sisters over clothes, going to happy hour with my best friends in college, walking my dog, watching Wheel of Fortune with my parents after dinner with a big bowl of ice cream (told ya I’m a homebody) …. it’s the little things in life that bring me the most joy, and being away from home has made me appreciate them that much more. I get homesick for these “little things” and for my loved ones often, but one thing I’ve learned through this is that life is all about balance. You will always have your high and low moments, but it’s your response to these moments that will have the greatest impact on you in the long run.
The single greatest thing I’ve learned so far while I’ve been away from home is to count my blessings, every day. (Even though I’ve realized that I have far too many to count.) I wake up every day missing my family and my friends, but also realize that I am so lucky to have all these people in my life that I have the ability to miss. Some people don’t have the privilege of having a best friend or a brother or sister or mom or dad. While in Northern Ireland, I have met lots of people who have been discriminated against because of their religion. I’ve also met 13 year olds with drug and alcohol problems, who struggle to find a place to sleep or food to eat every day. Additionally I’ve met men and women as young as 60 with dementia and Alzheimer’s. Having the opportunity to interact with and get to know people in situations like these humbles me every day that I’m here.
In regards to all this, in late September, I heard the very sad news from home that one of my college classmates had passed away, tragically in a boating accident. She was my age; we had classes together and had just graduated together in May, and she was working towards a future career as a dentist. Hearing this news was of course devastating and shocking. How was it that I was just sharing 4 years of college with this girl who was now taken from us so young? This taught me, in a rather harsh way, to count my blessings every day. This life is so precious, and every day is truly a gift. Being away from my loved ones at home is difficult, but reminding myself every day how blessed I am to have them, and how lucky I am to be here, is what keeps me going. It’s taught me to live every day like it really is my last.
This journey has already humbled me in ways that I could never have imagined it would. I’m looking forward to more growth in the next coming months. Here’s to making the most of our time we have in this crazy world. Cheers!