It's a good feeling to look back over your shoulder at the year behind you and know that although the risks were many, you do not have a single regret.
Anybody that has seen my post-highschool journey unfold will say it lies somewhere in-between an adventurous travel novel and your average roller coaster ride. There has been much swimming upstream in the name of following this heart of mine, and not so much slipping into the system. I am a firm advocate of being an individual and throwing yourself into the wind of your own dreams whilst not pretending that you're okay with squashing yourself in other people's expectations of what your life should look like. I'm not sure we were created to live under the ceilings of other people's limitations, but were made to run wild and free in the wide open spaces of our heart's longings.
I made a decision to embrace this way of life when I closed the last high school textbook and although the uncertainties have been ever-present, so has the fun, adventure and fulfilled dreams.
I made the risky decision to pack my bags last year and board a plane to California with a heart full of dreams, bags full of hope and a collection of question marks in my hands. I spent a year in the middle-of-nowhere at the foot of snow-capped mountains in a small northern California city, and every day as I breathed in the clean country air, I exhaled the peace of knowing that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I can remember waking up daily feeling as though I had been soaking in a bath of God's presence as I knew that I was at the centre of His will for my life and my destiny was blossoming before me. It's almost ironic how God and the dreams in my heart led me to a seemingly insignificant dot on the map which ended up being the place that spent a year carving a statue out of a block of marble that was my life. This year I was refined. This place, these people have looked into me, seen what lies within and then chipped away the fears, uncertainties, insecurities and left me more myself than I've ever been before. Some people that have been here and done this say that they've been changed into a different person, I say that I've been changed into the person that lay within all along yet just needed some help showing herself. So here, under the Californian sun I met myself for the first time.
And do you know what the best part of this whole fast-paced, whirlwind of a year has been? The people that have stood alongside me through it's entirety. There have been other crazy, burning-ones from every nook and cranny of the globe that heard destiny's call and found themselves here too. Together we have been shown what it really means to live, and discovered have all that a human being was created for. We have learnt that interdependency and not independency is the true order of life and that community is one of our greatest needs and greatest gifts. Has it been tough? Of course. Has it been worth it? One hundred times YES.
A week from today I will go back to the place I came from, and I've heard it said that you can truly measure the extent of your personal change when you re-enter a place that remains unchanged. My hometown, my family, friends and 'old life' will be the true litmus test of my change. I will be home for just a few months before I come back to California for round two. Second year, come at me. I'm ready for all that you're bringing.