For what it’s worth: it’s never too late or, in my case, too early to be whoever you want to be. There’s no time limit, stop whenever you want. You can change or stay the same, there are no rules to this thing. We can make the best or the worst of it. I hope you make the best of it. And I hope you see things that startle you. I hope you feel things you never felt before. I hope you meet people with a different point of view. I hope you live a life you’re proud of. If you find that you’re not, I hope you have the strength to start all over again. -F. Scott Fitzgerald
My friend Melissa once told me that one’s first year out of college was a journey of self-discovery, while the second year ushered in a time of feeling more centered on a life path. In May I finished up that journey on the shores of a now distant continent, although we all know that journey is on-going for a lifetime. But my year in Ghana truly did show me the true depth of my character and the obstacles I could successfully overcome. They were invaluable lessons for my new, current life path of teaching.
If there was one life mantra I strived to keep my eyes focused on was living a life that I could be proud of. It’s hard when making decisions to make them so everyone is satisfied or you are near everyone you love. But I’m getting better every year at making life decisions I can be content with and live knowing that where I am presently is where I need to be. If I ever find that is no longer true then I’m the only one that can change it. Getting stuck is a real fear of mine. I get restless thinking about being in one place for too long, and when I moved to Miami in July my mind could not stop circling around the idea that this was it for awhile. But there’s a flipside I have encountered to ‘going nowhere.’ In one of my favorite Thought Catalogs of the year it reads:
It is so easy to think that “going nowhere” is a personal struggle that we must go alone, that everyone else around us is content to live mediocre lives while we are constantly yearning for something more, something just out of reach. But we are all oscillating between states of finding new things to be happy about in life and feeling utterly trapped by the monotony of the day-to-day. If the everyday becomes overwhelming (and it will at some point, it always will) there are a million things you can do to assuage it. But the first step is always taking action, is realizing that the things you think are ingrained in your life (your social circle, your job, your apartment, your hobbies, even your city) are as ready to be changed as you are willing to change them.
I have said the latter part of this message to more than one friend who has expressed deep dissatisfaction with their life. And I tell them that is easier said than done, that uprooting your life takes immense courage and blind hope that the thing you are looking for will manifest itself in the new life you create. As someone who has uprooted their life twice to places where I knew less than a handful of individuals and was far far away from those closest to me since graduation, I know it is anything but easy. And then the same feelings come again when you become ingrained in a system of living, doing the same things every day. And that’s what I had to overcome this year–that feeling that being in one place would result in this. I’ve had to exercise that willingness to change the things I felt were ingrained in my life. I had to identify the moments in which I wasn’t living a life that I was proud of and had to find the strength to change that, even when it meant making others unhappy. I told an old friend the other day that you get to a point where you can only do your best and be honest and hope that’s enough for those around you. And it usually is for the ones that truly know and love me. Putting down roots in Miami for two years doesn’t mean living a mediocre life, but a decision to oscillate towards new things within this world to be happy about in life. So ‘going nowhere’ has given me a chance to learn these lessons in full in 2012 and give me satisfaction in looking back with a content sigh at all the people, places, jobs, and ideologies that made 2012 a magical year, and knowing that a year of self-discovery had ushered in a life that I was proud to share with others. I’m becoming who I want to be in life, but only because I’ve been willing to not stay the same and embrace the best of things, not the worst.
And as 2012 comes to a close it seems fitting to be ushering in the new year not in a glamorous casino on the Mediterranean as I did last year, but covered in pure white snow in a town suspended in time, I am filled with nothing but edge of my seat excitement for the ride that is in store for 2013–seatbelt fastened but arms up high.