As someone who always needs more motivation to make time for writing, I’m so thankful that Danielle of Sometimes Sweet, has started the Journal Days project. So what is Journal Days? Well, every Sunday Danielle is sharing a prompt and on Thursday will be publishing her reply. Everyone participating is asked to comment on the post with a few lines from their response and a link to their post. I think one of the coolest things about blogging is the community surrounding it – so this is really a win, win for me! Feel free to join along, too! It’s never too late to start. Anyway, enough rambling. On to this week’s prompt…
Everyone has a time in their life they view as a crossroad. Sometimes you can see it as it’s happening, and you’re able to choose one way or another. Other times you may not realize you’re there until you look back, and see what a turning point it really was. This week, write about a time you view as a marker in your life; a distinct place where things changed, for better or worse.
I’ve always been a planner. I’ve always known what I was going to do, when I was going to do it, and how it was going to happen way further in advance than is even necessary. So when I found myself graduating from high school, I knew I would be going to the University of South Florida, my mom’s alma mater, I would be living with my two best friends, and I would be studying journalism. My dream was to move to New York after graduation and pursue a career in the magazine industry. There was no crossroads here. I knew exactly what I wanted and I made it happen.
But a couple months in to my second year of college, everything started to change. Though I loved writing, I found myself unsatisfied in all of my classes. Around this time I was also being made aware of human rights and social justice issues all over the world. I was having a hard time wrapping my mind around why I should care about the proper placement of periods or parallel structure when there were people all over the world who needed my help. Feeling stuck, stressed, and scared I remember calling my dad… Asking him what I could do. I had already taken so many journalism classes, it didn’t make any sense to switch majors. Thankfully my dad was able to talk me off the ledge and told me to abandon my plans. He encouraged me to look into other majors, to find what made me happy, and pursue those things, even if that meant abandoning my plans. The next semester I made the choice to major in Psychology and put my quarter-life crisis out of my mind.
A few months later, I found myself so much happier but still not quite satisfied. It was the time of year when everyone starts thinking about what they’re going to do for the summer. Stay at school? Sub-let your apt and head back home? And my plan was always to go back to my dad’s for the summer, go back to my high school job, and go back to hanging out with all the friends I missed. But my best friend had different plans, she was going to work at a camp all summer and I was dreading being in our hometown without her. Just then I remembered an organization I had learned about a year prior. Liberty in North Korea – a grassroots non-profit organization who was rescuing North Korean refugees and using college aged students to spread awareness here in the states.
Without even calling my dad or really understanding the position, I applied to be a traveling representative or “nomad.” I reassured my worrying mind that I could think through all the details later, and even if I was accepted, I didn’t have to go. Well – two interviews later and I got the call. I was being offered a position to go to California and train at their headquarters, and then head out on the road with a few teammates, live out of a van, and speak in cities across the country spreading awareness and mobilizing action.
Now here was the choice – Go home, to a city I knew with people I loved, go back to the job I enjoyed, make decent money, maybe be able to reconnect with an ex-boyfriend and really fall back in to a comfortable routine where I knew I would be relatively happy, but more importantly, I would be safe. Or, pack up everything, fly across the country to a place I’ve never been, work with strangers on an issue I barely knew anything about, doing a job I still barely understood for no money and anything but comfort.
I’m thankful every day that I made the decision to head across the country, and take a leap into the unknown. Yes, partially I am thankful for that because I now work at LiNK full-time and live in California, both of which I love so much. But more importantly, looking back, this was the decision that gave me the ability to make such a crazy decision like moving cross-country permanently.
This decision came at just the right age. I was 19, turning 20… And if I had chosen to spend the summer at my dad’s and let this chance pass me by, I can’t promise I ever would have made a decision to leave. Looking back, deciding to be a nomad that summer is the only reason my life is what it is today. And honestly, I’m scared to think what it would have been had I stayed home that summer. At the time I had no idea how big of decision this was. I thought it would just effect the summer of 2010 but it did so much more.
Leaving that summer proved to me that I could do anything. That I was brave. That I could make decisions that weren’t planned out completely and still be okay.