When I was planning to go on the exchange I just knew that I had to do it.
Looking back I knew, because people told me, that this trip would change me but I honestly had no idea or thoughts as to how.
Now, as I am sitting on the plane waiting to leave the country I have time and nothing else to do but reflect and wonder whether or not they were right,
Have I changed?
I want to say that there was some drastic change but if anyone’s been watching my social media posts you would see it seems as though I’ve become more immature than to have gained any wisdom.
Other than turning 24 you could look at my life from the outside and think I’ve lost touch of my priorities and have let loose or become reckless but in all honesty, I’ve never felt more secure and grounded in my choices or who I am.
Coming on the trip itself was a choice I had to make that was filled with endless doubt, even now I’m not sure how I coaxed myself into doing it.
Nevertheless, making the choice taught me to stand up for myself and go for what I wanted even if was illogical, impractical and possibly quite stupid.
There was no saying as to what would come out of it, I just had a feeling and I ran with it.
So tenacity and courage, there!something I never had that I’ve gained. More importantly, courage in my choices, belief that I know deep down what I truly want and what is best for me, irrespective of the fine print.
there’s nothing like taking a spoilt daddy’s girl who has spent 80% of her life coddled by medicinal teams and familial support and sending her to Midwest USA (during trumps administration might I add) to teach her independence. I had no experience flying alone, no experience even getting myself to a hospital alone or living alone but maybe throwing myself in the deep end and having only a sense of “she’ll be right” was enough to teach this bubbled wrapped girl how to be independent. A big part of this is knowing that I feel like I can take care of myself, even when things go completely haywire, I know I can handle it. I will have to share more about how “independent” I’ve become cause ask the people I’ve stayed with.. I still can’t cook to save myself.
Okay let’s get really lame here, I didn’t learn about friendship but it’s been a while since I’ve had to make friends and rely on people suddenly after just meeting them. If you have met me you would know that I am quick to talk and have no trouble making friends, but the truth is I get extremely nervous and have social anxiety beyond what you would imagine. I worry about what people think, possibly too much; and that inhibits me from being my true self. The real me is quite introverted, she’s shy and someone that would rather be alone for a significant amount of time than around others. I always wonder what they think of me and often feel that they think badly as if I’m on display with a critique at my back.
I was therefore quite scared that I would struggle to adapt and that finding people I could trust and be supported by would be a challenge.
It came as a shock to people in NZ that my biggest fear of going on an exchange like this was making friends, because I look like I do it so easily. Through some miracle the people I met were not only quick to become friends but willing to create an instant international family, that loved each other unconditionally. Honestly, the trip would not have been what it was without these amazing European and Australian beings that took over my life and together we created a group that reshaped a trip into something beyond our imagination. I swear even if I didn’t want to I will see these crazies again and our days are only at their start. They taught me that you have to be willing to do anything for anyone at any time and that what your actions show is louder than any words you may post online. That moments whether it’s walking in the cold together or someone special driving you to a hospital in the next town is symbolic of love, not a text, a ‘like’ on social media or false promises of ‘catching up’.
I learnt how to cope with fear and to realise that I honestly have no control over anything that goes on around me. I learnt to embrace the fact that my life was not ever going to be easy especially with all the nonsense that I’ve dealt with but that I can sit and worry or forget it and move on. I visited the hospital more times than I had planned and was even getting ready to be sent back to New Zealand at one point, things went from bad to worse and back again.
I was and will always be scared that one day the switch may flip and again I will begin to fall unknowingly into a scenario I cannot control. But this fear stays with me constantly, so like grief, you cannot get over it you just find a way to deal with it.
So I laughed off my fears and I did this trip, I laughed when they told me things were bad, I laughed when at one point they said I might need to fly to NZ because I was so sick and I laughed when I was rushing to the emergency room in an Uber. And I’m here laughing on my way home cause man that was one heck of a ride.
I’m also leaving with the fear that I may never see some of the people I’ve met or rekindle the bonds we have made and that I think is a much harder fear but again I can’t change what may happen only wish the best for them and I and for our futures to include each other.
One thing I think that I learnt early on, which is very hard to believe was taught to me by someone who surprisingly said something that meant more to me than they had anticipated. I quickly learnt how invaluable everything I have been doing has been. I’m talking about my addictive tendencies in relation to social media. I’ve always wanted to showcase what my life is like as if it’s even mildly important but I’ve lost the meaning behind what I was doing it for and more importantly .. who it was for. I was told quote brutally how sites that we rely on just don’t matter anymore and whether someone knows it or not, you, the real you is out there existing and living. Whether someone is validating your experiences.. you’re still having them. Whether you like it or not minutes go by and your life suddenly becomes about their life.. watching yours.
Maybe that makes no sense but at the time and even now it made every bit of sense to me. It amazed me to arrive in a world where half the people I met don’t use Facebook or aren’t glued to their phones, but rather are in the moment because tomorrow’s coming and they have a whole life left to live. I can’t say that It’s done it’s job enough to make me quit everything ‘cold turkey’ but I will agree that it’s made me rethink what I’ve been doing and what my intentions are. Im left NZ on this trip wanting to push everyone to follow my great outward bound adventure not knowing what or why you should.. but I know that I want it to mean something and if I don’t work on what that goal is I’m just wasting my life “waiting for the world to watch me yet having nothing to show”.
Theres a quote that I’ve read before which I feel applies quite well in this sense.
“I’ve spent my whole life waiting for them to watch me, their eyes and the minute they are all staring I want nothing more for them to turn away” –
I may seem hypocritical that I am writing about my life, asking you to read it yet saying that people should not do that…, but I am trying to convey,(albeit poorly) that whether you read this or no one does truly does not matter. What matters is that I am writing it for a purpose and that purpose is to help whoever needs to read this – get up and live their life. A part of me living mine is sharing my journey, but the number of likes/views or attention it gets is not why I should be doing this.
All know now is that I want to do something good with this opportunity I have, if I am not, then I should stop.
In everything that I do, there should be some purpose – if not, I should not be doing it.
Plane about to land:
I have this feeling that if I can, and I have managed, to do this trip all on my own, and only cried once when I arrived and all of last night when I left Indiana – then there’s nothing I can’t do. The world may not be ready for me but I am certainly ready for it.
I want you to hopefully see how crazy I am but to challenge you to do whatever you’ve been dreaming about at night yet caging in all day.