So like, heyyy to the fact I have not posted in FIVE months. Hellllooooo! Have you missed me? I have certainly missed writing as my own personal, unedited self. The end of junior year came and went like I blinked once, and suddenly, I was back home in Boston for summer. Summer, as in, living at home and interning full-time in Boston, with an added 2 and a half to 3 hours a day of commuting time. In an effort to provide myself with some sort of balance while adjusting to working full time at a professional job and commuting over an hour each way, I limited my screen time outside of the office - my personal blog was pushed to the back burner and neglected from April until now, mid-September.
A year ago, I think I would have beaten myself up for taking such a long hiatus from something I am so passionate about and dedicated to. After this summer, though, I am the opposite of disappointed in myself for letting a few things drift to the backburner. An essential part of balance: priorities.
I am sure many of my readers remember my post about being self-full at the end of last summer when I was ashamed of how easy it was for me to kick all my healthy habits and mindfulness to the curb. My priorities were with the right intention - to survive working a full time job and still enjoy a college summer with friends while doing it. Crazy, out-of-whack intention? Definitely not. However, my execution of meeting my priorities failed. I allowed myself to be lazy and forego things that made me feel good about myself because my "other" priorities were too important.
This summer was different - you didn't see me writing here. But this time, it was because I made it a priority to stay off my computer screen (Netflix included, peeps) when I wasn't working. Staring deep into a computer screen for 8 hours a day can become draining quickly, and I wanted to save my digital creative energy for work. I was still able to write and express myself through my company's blog, Hacks & Flacks, where I published four (!!) articles during my internship focusing on my very personal journey to interning at March, my take on what companies actually look for in an intern, some advice on writing social media content, and finally, how you can make professional gains from a personal blog (weird, right?). One of the coolest parts: two out of the four got picked up by a daily PR brief, In The Know.
Another thing about priorities: they're not something you can half-ass.
Well, I mean, you could - but then they're not priorities at all. They're just one more thing you "should" be doing. I learn that lesson over and over when I make priorities for my mental and physical health, and then sometimes, don't measure up for myself. It can take a long time to build mental discipline - it's a conscious decision, again and again.
I learn the importance of keeping my priorities straight the hard way, more often than not. I've nearly thrown up in yoga class because I ate poorly hours before. I've shown up to work or class hungover and spent the entire day being unproductive and regretting every second of the night before. I've said something out of anger to someone I care about - and immediately wished I was more intentional with my words.
Despite these mistakes and lessons learned (some more than once), the most important thing about priorities: they never expire. Ever. They never stop working or forgiving if you're willing to work and forgive, too.
At the end of many of my yoga classes, our teacher often reminds us that now is the time to begin again. To start over, and to leave anything we're not proud of and everything that isn't serving us in the past. I think that's the most important thing this summer taught me. I can begin again every single day. Heck, I can begin again every hour, if I need to. Every minute, every conversation, every action, every single time I struggle or succeed, is another chance to prioritize what's important to me. And if that's not comforting, if that's not reassuring, if that isn't enough to make you want to reevaluate your priorities and try again tomorrow, then I don't know what is.
I am a judger.
I am one to judge people - I always have been. Mostly in my own thoughts, silently in my head, but oftentimes out loud to my friends, too. I judge everything: people's choices, their relationships, their morals, the way they present themselves on social media, and even shallower things like what they are wearing or how they do their makeup.
I am going to preface the rest of this post by saying none of this is easy for me to share. We all have parts of ourselves we are not proud of - this is one of mine. But it has become so important to me that I am willing to write about my own internal struggle with it, because I know many if not all of you can relate.
I have lived my entire life being a "judger." With my friends, my parents, to myself. The worst part is, I grew up thinking it was okay. Everyone talks about everyone. As long as you are kind to someone's face, what you say or think behind their back isn't harmful. I was a "nice girl" through and through - that's what I thought, and that's what I wanted everyone else to think, too.
This past March, for spring break, I had the opportunity to travel to Montego Bay, Jamaica for the second time. I would once again get to live and work in a Mustard Seed orphanage for the mentally and physically disabled for the week. If you have read some of my other posts, especially this one, you know that my spring break mission trip to Jamaica last year changed my life. This year, I went into the experience with a completely open mind, knowing the effect it had on me last year, yet unsure what to expect for myself this year.
At the beginning of the trip, one of my good friends in our group was reading a book called Love Does. It is about a man and his inspirational life story all centered around the message that love, above all else, truly does have the power to move mountains. For some reason, the singular phrase "Love does" really stuck with me going into our week. I made a commitment to myself to approach all the upcoming interactions, rewarding and frustrating alike, with a mindset of love.
Surrounded by the residents at Mustard Seed, it was so easy. So easy to see love in all of them. So easy to show them love. So easy to show the orphanage staff who dedicated their lives to caring for the disabled my love, too. So easy to feel the love around me every night when my friends and I would gather in our mission house to sing, play a guitar we found with only five strings, and share memorable stories from the day or from our lives back at Elon.
However, a few days into the trip I started thinking. In general, our society judges and ostracizes those who are "less" than us: the poor, the ugly, the different, the wrong, the disabled, the whatever that makes them different from us. Myself, as a judger, included. Why was it so easy for me to show love to the residents, who embody absolutely everything we usually judge in our society? Why did I decide now was the time I wanted to show love, but back home I did not show any love or compassion to those who were "different" than me?
Love does do many things, but love absolutely does not discriminate.
My initial feelings were confirmed in my mind when I heard a passage from the Bible in a reflection on our trip. It is still completely relevant even if you are not religious. Matthew 7:2-3 says, "For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?"
For days and weeks afterward, I could not shake the weight of those words. Did I want the way I was judging others to be the way by which I'm judged? Why was I focusing so much on the faults, or simple differences, of others when I could put that energy into working on myself? I felt like I had been punched in the face. Why had I spent so long just accepting the judgements, often harsh and uncalled for, that I was making?
Here's why: because it so easy to. So easy to accept the narrative that is constantly, silently going through your head judging the people around you. So easy that, often, we don't even realize how negative our internal narrative is being and how much of a disservice it is doing to us.
I challenge you to really listen to your internal narrative when you find yourself in an uncomfortable or frustrating situation. Judgements are often small but come in multiples, over and over before they are so common in our thoughts they are like white noise. When I tuned into mine, it was easier for me to identify what thoughts I wanted to exile and what thoughts just needed to be tweaked a little.
It does not happen overnight, and it's a long road ahead for me to rid myself of the judgement I put on both myself and others. But, I am confident that, like I said, love does. Love does forgive and move on, and love is more powerful than any judgement you could impose on yourself or anyone else.
I wrote the piece below for a class I am currently taking. Our assignment was to write a letter to our younger self in the style of the "Letter to My Younger Self" column on The Player's Tribune. I wrote mine with style and syntax inspiration from my favorite post, which was written by Deion Sanders. Our only goals for this assignment were to be as transparent and honest as possible.
Letter To My Younger Self: Lucky
You’re lucky. A 10-year-old who almost always gets what she wants. Like from your mom and dad – whether it is material things, like a plethora of every toy that was on your list for Christmas, or more important things, like constant love and attention. You get it all.
It’s the same everywhere else you go. In your small town, you feel known and appreciated: you have been at the same local dance school for five years now and are one of the best in your class, your teachers rave about you every year (and always mention to your parents you’re one of their favorites at parent-teacher conferences) – even the woman at the local deli always recognizes you with your mother on Sunday’s and offers you a free cookie.
You don’t know any different.
It’s always been this way.
You can remember as early as first grade. You loved having friends and having good teachers, but you loved writing more. Writing. From the minute you could hold a pencil, you were putting words on paper. At first, you would scribble lines on a piece of construction paper in your den at home, even though you knew no one could read it. You called it “Rachel Writing.” Then, first grade rolled around and you could print legibly enough that people could read what you had to say. And you had a lot to say. Throughout elementary school, your writing was always picked as some of the best: your “news” story you wrote every morning on that half sheet of paper and got to share at morning meeting, or your hamburger paragraph organizer (you know the one – the buns are the introduction and the conclusion, the burger and toppings are all the good stuff), or your poem that got published in a book of children’s poetry in fourth grade.
In the years that follow, you start bringing papers and stories home. Like everything else you do, your parents love them. You start mailing things you write to your grandparents in Connecticut. Your grandpa raves over every single one. He says he shows them to his friends at church. You keep mailing them. You keep writing.
By the time you start high school, you know you want to go to college to write. You’re in the highest intensity, college-level English and writing classes, and you still get A’s in them. You still get almost everything you want.
At the end of your freshman year, you attend the high school graduation and hear the Senior Student Speaker – a senior who is chosen on behalf of the rest of the graduating class to deliver a speech during the ceremony. Within minutes, you know you want that to be you senior year. You go to graduation to hear the Student Speaker again the following two years. Senior year, you craft one of your best pieces of writing yet, and audition for the role. Of course, you get it. You almost always get what you want.
June of 2016, you deliver a speech full of heart, laughs, and a few tears to over 1,000 people. Your whole family is there. Your grandparents drive three hours from Connecticut to watch your five-minute delivery. You make sure to speak extra clearly so your grandpa can hear you from the other side of the gymnasium.
That fall, you head to college – for writing. You pick Elon University in North Carolina – partly because it’s beautiful, but mostly because it has one of the best communications programs in the country. You eventually pick your major, Strategic Communications – it’s writing heavy, and you get to pursue strategy and marketing, too.
The next year, you decide you are ready to enter the real world and apply for internships. After extensive research and phone calls, you find your dream internship in Boston. You get through the whole interview process with what feels almost like flying colors.
Then, you don’t get the job.
Or any internship you applied for that year.
You spend the summer back home in your small town, working at the summer school your mom works at. You realize life is a lot more than almost always getting what you want.
Then, fall of your junior year rolls around, and you head to Ireland to study abroad. You get back on your feet a bit and start applying for spring internships.
Then, your grandpa dies.
While you’re 3,000 miles away. In Ireland.
You don’t go home. You want to, but it’s too far with too little time.
You don’t always get what you want.
Five days later, you are offered a spring internship at your first-choice agency in High Point, North Carolina – a 45-minute commute from Elon. Two weeks later, you land that dream internship for the coming summer in Boston– the one you didn’t get last year. The one that made you realize life is a lot more than always getting what you want.
You write a speech to be delivered on your behalf at your grandpa’s funeral. You know he heard it – more clearly this time – and maybe he showed his friends.
At the ripe age of nearly 21, you haven’t gotten what you wanted many times now – and you know you aren’t going to get what you want again.
You started a blog and you wrote about it. A year later, you’ve gotten over 10,000 views.
You’re lucky you don’t always get what you want.
The last time you heard from me, I posted about how I would be leaving for Dublin in three short weeks. Now, six weeks later, I have been here for three weeks already! I was planning to post a lot sooner than three weeks in, but Dublin has been breaking my expectations - to say the least.
I should know myself well enough by now to know it takes me a while to adjust to a culture shock. Three weeks later, I am still adjusting to my new routine here in Dublin and am definitely still reeling from homesickness. Every time I travel I remind myself to not create expectations, and every time, I subconsciously still do. Sometimes, this can help me - my anxiety will lessen if a subconscious expectation is met. But usually, it will hurt me - my anxiety automatically heightens if it isn't.
For some reason, I was not expecting to feel homesick this time around leaving home, because this is my third year living far away from home and I am extremely used to living at Elon and being away from my parents. So, I guess the excitement of living in another country blinded me from the thought I may have to deal with being homesick all over again. However, culture shock, the time difference and a brand new city hit me quickly and I suddenly wanted nothing more than to be back at home with my mom and dad.
On top of this, I began dealing with some stomach problems that got pretty severe at times - severe enough that I was missing class a week into school. This landed me in the doctor's office this past Monday. I was hoping not to see a doctor at all while I was abroad, never mind twenty days in. However, I am glad I mustered up the courage to go - alone in a different country - to the doctor because the treatment he prescribed me already has me feeling much better.
This post is absolutely not to complain, though. I am a huge believer and follower of the saying "grow through what you go through." Every day, I am reminded that feeling grounded definitely comes from within, and everyone adjusts to new environments differently. This does not just apply to traveling - this applies to life. Starting at a new college, working a new job, beginning a new relationship. Trust your instincts and what you are feeling despite what the person next to you says.
In the past, when I have gone abroad, whether it was to Europe, Ghana or Mexico, I have had a habit of looking for things that remind me of home as soon as I get there. In Europe, it was desperately searching for an iced coffee at a Starbucks. In Ghana, it was American snacks (Pringles for the win) in Ghanaian supermarkets. In Mexico, it was getting an omelet at breakfast instead of anything out of the ordinary.
This trip, I promised myself I would not try to fill my experience with things from home. That defeats my efforts to immerse myself in Irish life and culture. With that being said, coffee? Local coffee shops only. And lucky for me, there are a ton of cute ones to try. I have gotten Starbucks once, when I just needed a quick taste of home (and I was super thirsty after some serious shopping on Grafton Street). Out to eat? I had the choice between mac and cheese or Coddle - an Irish potato-based soup with sausage, chicken, potatoes and onions. With a bit of self-encouragement, I went for the Coddle - and it was amazing.
Little pushes like these have helped to remind me I am indeed living in a new country and it was never supposed to be easy. I am growing through what I go through - and I damn well am not done yet.
More to come soon from Dublin. xx
3 weeks from today, I will be heading to Dublin, Ireland for my fall semester! I will living in downtown Dublin and studying at the Dublin Business School. When I left Elon for the summer in May, my fall semester abroad felt like a lifetime away. But now, with only 21 days until my departure, it is suddenly starting to feel real. By that, I mean I am starting to become filled with excitement, anticipation and lots of nerves.
If you know me or you have kept up with my past posts, you know I am definitely a go-getter. I usually know what I want and am willing to work to get it.
In April of 2016, I travelled to Europe for the first time and spent 10 days exploring Germany, Austria, and Poland. At the end of my trip, I reflected on how absolutely magical Europe had been for me and promised myself I would return in the semi-near future. Two and a half years later, my time has come once again and I am absolutely ecstatic to see what this trip to Europe has in store for me - and for much longer than 10 days!
I would love to hear any recommendations for must-do’s around Ireland, and for neighboring countries I may be visiting. Any and all recommendations are absolutely welcome! Feel free to leave me a note down below or contact me directly here.
Be sure to check back here often for updates throughout my 4 months abroad!
Finding a balance between selfish and selfless.
This morning, I stepped foot on my yoga mat for the first time in three months. It has been four weeks since I went for a run. To some, this may seem insignificant. But to me, it is hard to even write this for others to read.
When someone passes away, I often find that their obituary includes praise of their character. "She was kind, smart, and selfless." Selfless. She was "selfless."
I came home from college in May with a list of goals for the summer. Being the goal-oriented person I am, I literally wrote down what I was "dedicating" my summer to: health, self-love, and self-improvement. At first, I stayed consistent to my dedications. I was training for a 5K and running at least twice a week, I bought a new yoga class pass, I was journaling almost daily, and I made an effort to meal-prep and cook most of my food at home.
Then, I started working 40 hours a week. Within days, everything I was working for went almost forgotten. The last run I went on was my 5K. I would sign up for yoga classes and cancel. I put down any book I tried to read. I would think about blogging and end up convinced I "had nothing to say."
Why was it suddenly so easy for me to lose sight of my goals? Why did the things that are inherently most important to me get pushed to the back burner? It has always been important to me to give to those in need. Giving my time, energy, and love has always seemed more valuable than giving money. Up until recently, having my obituary saying I was "selfless" was something I would have strived for.
But when you are not taking care of yourself, when you put your own needs and goals for self-improvement to the side, you cannot give others your best because, simply put, you are not your best. It is so important - if not essential to your prolonged wellness - to be selfish sometimes. You absolutely cannot selflessly help others without first taking care of yourself and working on your body, spirit and mind. When I stopped nourishing my body and soul, suddenly I felt like the rest of my life was malnourished too. The fire I feel when I'm working for things I'm passionate about went out.
I want to be known as someone who is self-full. Someone who understands the potential of their contribution to this world and does not take it lightly. Someone who values that potential enough to put themselves first.
Selfish and selfless have opposite connotations, but they both create unrealistic expectations. Let's find the middle ground.
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.
Sometimes, feeling uncomfortable is the only way to grow.
I will be the first to say it: I hate being uncomfortable. I hate being unsure of what I'm doing, what I'm going to do or how to react to something.
Like most people, I spent most of high school doing everything in my power to avoid being uncomfortable. This includes typically not associating with people I didn't know, making sure I had my schedule written down and that I knew exactly what I was doing next, and most importantly, not doing anything that could possibly be embarrassing (like only raising my hand in class when I was 100% sure my answer was correct). Because of this, I was almost never uncomfortable. I was set in my routine and did not want it any other way.
Looking back, I realize this was precisely my problem.
Since coming to college less than two years ago, I have begun to see that the times I was uncomfortable are the times I grew. Most recently, that was going to Ghana for three weeks: I was literally uncomfortable for the entire three weeks. New places and people everyday. For someone who loves her routine, talk about stimulation overload. Before Ghana, it was deciding to become an Orientation Leader for incoming freshmen and spend a long weekend acclimating them to life as a college student. There's nothing like having those awkward, "boring" discussions with students just one year younger than you about the university's policies on alcohol. Or, one of my favorites: deciding to go through sorority recruitment and spending three straight days talking about myself and my values to girls that I did not know - basically 10 hours a day of girl flirting.
The common theme throughout all of these experiences is new. New people. New places. New foods. New cultural norms. As awkward and scary this may be, having "new" experiences in life is truly the only way you can ever grow as a person. Whether the new experience is trying a Ghanaian tribal dance with a tribe in rural Africa, or pushing yourself to act confident when you were definitely not feeling that way on the inside, at the end of the day, you've grown.
Tomorrow, I am traveling to Montego Bay, Jamaica for a week of service at the Mustard Seed orphanage. All the children at the orphanage have disabilities - physical, mental, or both. Many of them are not verbal. I have never worked with children like this. We are not using our cell phones during the trip.
Am I nervous? Yes. Was I apprehensive to even take this trip? Definitely. But am I ready to be uncomfortable, whatever that may mean in context of the trip? Absolutely.
In many ways, developing the comfort of being uncomfortable is similar to anything else - it takes practice. The more often you allow yourself to feel vulnerable and awkward, the easier it will become to embrace the challenge of allowing yourself to grow. Being uncomfortable will always be, well, uncomfortable - but there is beauty in that.
There is beauty in growth, and there is beauty in realizing you are so much more than you think you are. Sometimes, all it takes is being willing to accept the discomfort.
"I'm here for a good time, not a long time, you know," said Drake in Big Sean's song, Blessings. Inspirational, right?
No, probably not. However, when you think of it in the sense of traveling, Drake is usually right.
For many, a typical vacation looks like this: The beach. The pool. Mexico. Florida. Drinking. Partying. A week away from our reality. And that's just about it.
Except someone else's reality is just a few minutes down the road from our resort.
Now, before anyone assumes I'm slamming people who take those kind of trips: I'm not (well, not exactly). I've been there - this summer my friends and I dropped over $1,000 each to spend a week in a secluded resort in Cancun and did almost nothing except drink (first and last time I take tequila shots) and lay by the pool or beach. Was it fun? Of course. Was it worth $1,000? Probably not - especially with the thought constantly lurking in the back of my mind that the devastation and poverty that is most of Mexico could not be that far from our luxurious, all-inclusive resort.
I think, for the most part, we have all been there. Traveling is fun - if not one of the most important things we can spend our money on - but I believe the art of learning how to travel meaningfully is so important not only because we are spending precious, hard-earned cash to travel to other countries and experience new places, but because who are we to be blind to the real culture of the places we travel?
"Meaningful" travel should look more like this: we go to a new place. We learn about the people who live there. We try new foods - and we say thank you as we cringe at the smell of them. We look around us - and we remember we are guests in these peoples' home.
And even more so, we remember that we all live on one Earth. This is all of our home - some of us can afford to spend $1,000 to lay on the beach sipping margaritas, while the people who live just 10 miles away from our all-inclusive resort struggle to gather enough money to send their children to school.
And should we enjoy ourselves along the way? Absolutely - there is nothing more enriching than experiencing how other humans live.
St. Augustine wrote, "The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page."
Those who travel just to drink and turn away from the reality of what they are surrounded by - they may be reading a new page, but they are reading it upside down.
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.
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