June 17, 2016
Yesterday was my one year anniversary with Europe. It feels incredible and strange and unbelievable all at the same time. I remember the day I left so well, not just because I wrote it down, but because I don’t think it’s possible to forget something so significant. I remember the toilet flooded and how the morning was spent trying to soak up all the water from the floor with towels. I remember I ate a leftover sausage for lunch and how I sat outside on the new deck, wishing I could sit there a little longer. And I remember driving away from home, wanting to cry and trying not to.
365 days is a long time. It’s been 365 days since I hugged my mom. 365 days since I got a good-morning kiss on my head from my dad. 365 since I held my grandma’s hand or sat in the car with my sisters. 365 days.
On day number 1, when I arrived in Berlin and settled down in my bed for my first sleep away from home, I could never have predicted how day number 365 would feel waking up in my bed in Paris. I just looked through some photos — all of the things that I’ve seen and done — and smells came back to me, and feelings rushed upon me, and for the first time in my life, I felt wiser. I have been waiting, seemingly forever, for a growth spurt, and I think I finally got it. It didn’t come in gaining height as I imagined it would – it came in gaining wisdom and in gaining experience. Thinking back to every moment where I stood completely lost, or lonely, or scared, dragging around a suitcase that was too heavy for me, surrounded by people I didn’t know speaking languages I didn’t understand, I realize that all those moments in which I felt that I was made too small for this world, I really wasn’t. Well, maybe I was made a little too small, but that was probably only so that I had a reason to grow. Now that I’ve had my growth spurt, I think I’m just the right size.
I know the world is far from perfect, but I still believe that it’s good and I still love it, and I fall a little bit more in love with it each passing day.
I have missed birthdays, and Christmas, milestones and little, every day moments, but I knew I would be sacrificing those things when I signed up for this. I keep looking back to the last picture I took with my family. My hair is longer now and my denim top has two holes in the elbows which means I should probably throw it out, but I know the real change in me is invisible to the naked eye. People always say you are supposed to do the thing that scares you. Sometimes I don’t understand why I’ve been so afraid of change — I would be more disappointed in myself right now if I hadn’t changed. Yes, I am grateful that in 365 days the world has changed me — for the better – and I hope that one day, I’ll be able to repay the favour and somehow change the world.