Growing up, I was raised to be a go-getter. I wanted to jump on every opportunity that crossed my path. In first grade, my class put on "The Magic School Bus" play for our parents to celebrate holidays around the world. I wanted to be the lead, Ms. Frizzle. I got it, and got a dress with a map of the Earth on it to match my role.
Freshman year of high school, I went to graduation with my friend and watched the student speaker - a senior who writes a speech and is chosen to speak on behalf of the rest of the senior class. I knew I wanted to be that speaker when I was a senior. Three years later, I wrote a speech with my entire heart poured into it and got the role as student speaker. I was able to give the speech in front of my entire graduating class, my family, closest friends and favorite teachers. Two years later, current seniors are still reaching out to me for advice on how to write their speech for the student speaker audition.
As often as I went after something and got it, I went after something else and was denied, or had an outside factor turn me down. Sophomore year of high school, my school had a ten-day trip to Europe. As soon as I saw the posters, I knew I wanted to go. But my parents quickly reminded me I did not have $5,000, and that I would probably want to go on the Europe trip when I was a senior, which is when most of my friends would probably go. I decided to listen to them.
Freshman year of college, I applied to go on a mission trip to an orphanage for children with disabilities in Jamaica. I worked hard on my application and was pretty confident I had a good shot of getting a spot. A few weeks later, I got an email saying that I was not selected for the trip.
First semester of freshman year, I applied to be a tour guide on campus. Similar to my application for the Jamaica trip, I worked hard on the application and was hoping I had a good chance. Soon after, I was not moving on in the interview process.
Needless to say, I was disappointed when I was denied and I have been disappointed many, many other times when things did not go my way. But for every single time I have not gotten something I wanted, something better came into my life later.
We have all seen the quotes and mantras that praise the idea of "fate." The idea that everything will fall into place and to "trust the system."
I want to challenge that concept. Rather than trusting "fate," rather than leaving the things that happen to you up to "fate," what happened to having faith in yourself and the decisions you make? Furthermore, and more challengingly, what about continuing to have faith in yourself after failure?
Two years after my parents initially said "no," to my high school's Europe trip, I travelled to Germany, Austria, and Poland with every single one of my best friends and ended my senior year in the absolute best way possible. Just like my parents said I could, if I was willing to wait two years.
A year after being rejected from going to Jamaica, I decided to apply for the trip again. This time, I was accepted and spent my sophomore year spring break working at the orphanage alongside 10 other Elon students. During the trip, I quickly realized that I would not have been emotionally stable to handle that experience a year ago. My freshman year of college was extremely draining and a trip of that nature with absolutely no communication with home would have only made me more anxious. However, a year later I had matured and the trip to Jamaica could not have come at a better time in my life.
Four months after I was rejected from Elon tour guides, I applied to work for Elon New Student & Transition Programs. The office runs New Student Orientation and other programs that facilitate healthy, productive transitions in every part of the college experience - from getting accepted into Elon, to preparing for life after graduation. It was exactly the kind of work I was passionate about and wanted to be involved in. A year later, I not only work for New Student & Transition Programs but I have been promoted to Public Relations Coordinator within the office and plan on continuing my work with NSTP through graduation. I cannot imagine a better on-campus job. If I had become a tour guide, I would have never applied to work with NSTP.
I have faith in myself to make the right decisions for my future, but I also have faith that if something does not work out, time will tell why it did not. In January, I was rejected from my absolute dream summer internship and took weeks to process my disappointment. Four months later, I still have not figured out what better experience is coming - but I have faith that it is absolutely on its way. Maybe not this month, this summer, or even this year, but I know everything is as it should be.
Have faith in yourself, but more importantly, have faith in your future. It makes everything just a little bit easier.
As my sophomore year at Elon comes to a close, I am so thankful for this place I call my "blog" where I am able to share my thoughts and experiences! With just about 5,000 views in 6 months, thank you so much to everyone who has given me a read!
More to come in the future! xo
And step into someone else's.
Last week, I returned from my mission trip in Montego Bay, Jamaica at an orphanage for children with mental and physical disabilities. I returned to Elon, North Carolina, where I have spent the majority of my time for the past two years. Four days later, I returned home to Whitman, Massachusetts, where I have spent my entire life up until college.
But I felt like I didn't know these places anymore because I suddenly didn't know myself. I silently wrestled with this internal struggle because I didn't even know how to articulate what I was feeling.
After a few days, I got back in touch with myself a bit and began to ask myself: what made my trip to Jamaica so different from anything else I had ever done? Why was it so hard for me to readjust back into my regular life?
Simply put, this "mission trip" I had done - the children in this orphanage way up in the mountains outside of Montego Bay - they are not the missionaries. They are not the ones that need "help." They are not the ones that need "saving."
It is us, the Americans who travel to these countries thinking we can help these "poor" people, who need saving. The children who live at the orphanage may lack what we consider wealth: money or an abundance of material belongings such as clothing. But their lives are so full of happiness, spirit and love that they are damn wealthier than we could dream of being.
Upon returning from Jamaica, some of the questions I got included, "Aren't the children so sad?" "Did seeing their lives make you feel so lucky?" and "Don't you think they wish they had families?"
No, to all three questions. Out of the 34 residents, about 24 were in a wheelchair, and about five of them were verbal, with only one being able to form complete sentences. But they do not know anything else but a life up in the beautiful, lush mountains of Jamaica surrounded by the orphanage staff, other residents, and "mission workers" who give them so much love and care.
The reason I felt like I didn't recognize my old surroundings and places I called "home" was not because they were different - it was because I was. My priorities had changed, and that's ok. Since then, I have allowed that strange sense of "not belonging" I felt to motivate me to share my feelings with others and share just how important true "wealth" is, and to continue searching for it for myself.
I was apprehensive to do a mission trip because of the "voluntourism" complex - the idea that white people think they can enter other countries and help poor people, that people only go on mission trips to "take a picture with a black baby" (someone on my trip actually had someone say that to them), and the fact that people are paying $1,000+ to "help" people that really need their money much more than they need their presence.
With that being said, I highly, highly recommend the "mission trip" experience as long as you are fully aware and OK with the realization that you are the missionary. You are the one that will be significantly changed from the trip, and while you probably did some good for the place you visited, your world has changed much more than their's.
It took me a while to accept that. But when you are working with people who find peace within chaos, laugh at the smallest joys, and love unconditionally, your heart is bound to change. So let it.
A huge, special thank you to Elon University and Elon CCM for making the trip to Jamaica possible for me. I am so, so blessed.
Just living, learning + loving and writing some of it down along the way. Senior + Director of Panhellenic Recruitment at Elon University in North Carolina. Currently interning + curating social for some badass clients at SFW in Greensboro, NC. Yogi, sightseer, shopaholic, foodie, writer.
LET'S TALK ABOUT...