I called my brother Brian the other day. I was telling him that I was torn between trying to enjoy my last month in Costa Rica and starting to plan my summer.
I want to be in California, I told him. I feel like it’s the right place for the goals I have and the life I want to live.
So do it, he responded (not uncommon advice from Brian). Just go.
Okay that’s true, I should … but then sometimes I feel like I’m just floating, with no real destination or plan. I know what I want, but the necessary steps to get there have been a little foggy lately. I think it’s because I’m in such limbo right now. For what seemed like a long time, the main thing on my mind was leaving for Costa Rica. As someone who tends to not plan too much in advance, it felt strange to be so preoccupied with my upcoming travels. Let alone thinking beyond that! Forget it!
I’ve made a home out of this foreign place by forming authentic friendships and appreciating the country’s beauty, but most people left for home a few days ago and my program lasts another month (plus I’ll be doing some traveling afterwards). Once again, I’m back to having to gain traction where everything is new. Everything is different. I feel a void knowing the people I met here will never all be in this place together again.
Life does this to us. Just when we’re comfortable, a new change comes along.
But exciting changes are occurring. I’m starting an intensive 4-hour-a-day spanish class and there are a lot of people here who I am so happy to be able to spend time with. And after that, I have a summer of new to look forward to. How exciting is that! I know that these changes are necessary, as is every new beginning.
The conversation with Brian circled around to the topic of risks. A risk –– something that isn’t guaranteed to result in a particular or desired outcome. Moving to a new place. Facing unforeseen challenges. Loneliness, adjustment. You may hate your decision or love it! That’s why it’s a risk.
People often claim to support risk-taking or just “living on the edge” (#YOLO, anyone?), but I feel like it’s often (what Brian likes to call) “fake” risks that they support. Because real risks aren’t guaranteed and no one wants to be responsible for encouraging a choice that ends up not working out. An example of a fake risk: moving to a place only if you know for sure it’ll be a smooth transition. If everything is perfectly lined up. If your family is moving with you. If it makes complete sense. If there’s no other option. But is it really a risk if the outcome is essentially known?
I’ve found that people are often weary until you “make it.” Until you’ve proven that you can be successful despite taking a big risk. In other words, if we wait to get everyone else’s approval rather than following what we feel is right at that time, we’ll never take that leap of faith. And it’s that leap of faith that will take us from good to great. This is the only way we’ll grow.
Being abroad has prepared me for more risks to come. I’m here and I’m doing it, and I can do it again. This is it! This is life! Moving and grooving with the tides of the ocean. The changes and transitions and decisions and risks, one after another. This is what I want my life to be.
Sometimes, you need to just go where you feel is right. And that’s scary! That’s really really scary. It takes a whole lot of faith. I’m currently working through this process.
Last night I was talking to my friend Rachel about our dreams that have both involved California for a while now. As basically the “it” spot for creative endeavors as well as healthy living, California only makes sense for our combined interests. My thoughts are that if I go where my passions are - where I feel inspired and in my element - I can’t go wrong.
But thinking about living across the country (when I’m just looking forward to being reunited with my family at home) is making it difficult to commit, and just another reason I feel all over the place. It’s weird to think about going from one place that isn’t home to another.
It’s a weird summer for me in general, the summer before my last year of college. I keep thinking of it as the last. The final chance, the ultimate opportunity to either take advantage of time at home or take advantage of the freedom to go anywhere. But it’s time to embrace this stage of my life. Risks involve sacrifices, which I believe are well worth it if you feel it’s the right move. As I contemplate California, I think back to my conversation with Brian. Just go. Why not?
Of course I crave stability and certainty, but I’m getting used to making comfort out of unfamiliar environments. Plus, even when we do plan, nothing ever goes exactly the way we intend. This happens with traveling and moving and big changes, but it also just happens in our everyday lives.
If I wait for everyone’s approval or for the perfect time, I won’t go. And I’ll be totally neglecting what my heart has been telling me for so long! I’ll be neglecting a valuable chance to really expand myself.
After extending my travels, I look forward to returning to those who I have missed so much. And after spending time in the comfort of my own home with my family – when the time is right, I’ll be ready to explore another place.
For now, I’m pretty sure Cali is calling me. But what’s meant to be will be. It might be some risky business, but I’m almost ready for my next adventure.