For the first time, my life does not revolve around a school year schedule so it feels appropriate to get reflective on the year that was 2017. I think it will be marked as the year where I learned I have to make actions that reflect the vision I have for my life instead of waiting for it to change.
In the first few days of 2017 I booked a ticket for Iceland. It was my first action step in a year where many action steps would be taken. At this point in the school year I hadn’t made a decision on whether or not I wanted to do a third year at Hyde. My indecision led to researching how to live abroad and I contemplated if that could be a possibility. By the time I was headed to Iceland in March, I had made the decision to leave Hyde and began telling friends and family that I was thinking of going abroad. I used Iceland to test the waters on solo traveling. Was it something I enjoyed? Was it something I was capable of? Checked yes for both of those categories.
In the spring I made the commitment to move abroad and began to dread sharing it with people. I learned there was a difference between telling someone I am thinking about going abroad and saying I am going to teach English in Vietnam. I never knew how to field the reactions. I was often asked “why Vietnam” and I didn’t know how to confidently answer that question. It was a decision I was nervous about and I didn’t really want to carry around other people’s opinions on it.
When June came around, I moved out of my apartment of two years and started work at a summer school in NH while my parents moved out of my childhood home and into an apartment in NY. It was a challenging summer. I temporarily joined a close knit community and wasn’t sure how to fit in. I lived in my home state where I didn’t have a home anymore. I planned and organized my move to a foreign country largely by myself.
At the end of the summer, I moved into my parents apartment for two weeks and had my first experience being an only child. I created checklists and to-do lists to manage the anxiety and weight of the experience that was ahead. Despite being able to put a check in every box, there was no way I could actually be prepared for everything that was to come. But I sure did like that feeling of pretend accomplishment. The end of August rolled around and I landed in Vietnam, ready or not. I always feel the weight of time when a big event arrives that I felt never would actually come.
I met a lot of new people in 2017 and also spent a lot of time on my own. I think it has been a combination of these polarized experiences that has created space for me to grow. Having a few friends visit Vietnam at the end of the year allowed me to see the growth reflected in our friendships, which was special.
I ended the year booking a flight to Cambodia, so far from where the year started but with the same intention to learn through experiences. 2018 feels like a blank sheet of paper. I’m not sure how it will be filled in but I now have the tools to create any picture I want.