In my mind any experience is “worth it” if you have done one of two things: 1. Enjoyed yourself or 2. Learned something
To begin very basic: The whole reason I went to Costa Rica was to learn Spanish. So I am sure all of you are wondering, are ya fluent??
A: Give me a break, I have only been studying Spanish for 3 months. Who do you think I am? A super human?? Jk.
But for real. I end the summer (I say this with a humble heart, just trying to be honest) with a good comprehension, a pretty good accent, a great base foundation, and a lot more to learn. I can understand most conversations, if I pay attention, but still have a lot of growth on my speaking ability as well as vocabulary and correct grammatical usage.
As far as the rest goes I learned about what it means to be in a family. I learned that you have to work at those relationships, just as you do friendships. Even more, I now fully understand that the most important thing in life is being a good family member. Without family (in whatever sense you may define that), you have nothing.
I know that people constantly talk about how much going abroad changes them and it’s cheesy. They write long statements about how they’ve grown over their time in another country. But the thing is there is nothing false about it. Sure not everyone practices what they preach when they return to the states, but they will have been changed forever regardless.
From a point of view of being abroad the past two summers I can honestly say I have never learned so much about the person I want to be and at the same time become so confused about the person that I am.
While if don’t know who I’ll become, the impact I’m going to have, I am working to adjust the scale by which I define greatness and accept that it will be different from I first dreamed.
So many of us grow up with the idea in our head that we want to change the world. How? Most of us aren’t lucky enough to know how. Most of us also don’t have a complete grasp on reality to say in what scope (local, global, etc.) we would feel accomplished. But I have been trying to wrap my mind around fully believing: we are all changing the world. Each and every one of us changes the world by simply living. Some of you may be thinking, okay well that’s stupid because that’s not what I meant when I was thinking about making an impact on the world. Don’t get me wrong, I totally feel you. But before we get to the grand scale of world shifting, we have to understand the following: We are all important. What we choose to do with our lives matters. We have complete control over our emotions, happiness, and relationships. We all have the ability to change a life or lives everyday. We often forget about the small acts of kindness we can do for others that could have a much larger, even life changing, impact on someone else. Once we understand that, we can get to the next part.
I ask you to think of how many people you know right now who knew that they would be doing what they are doing, in the company they are doing it in. Really think. The reality is that most people don’t. Life is constantly changing and opportunities are constantly arising that we never even knew existed. So we all need to relax. We can’t just wake up tomorrow and have our whole lives planned out and we can’t plan how we can change the world. I have come to believe that the largest impacts one can have is usually something they stumble upon. Hear me out. If we do things that we are passionate about, then we will be led in the direction of happiness, from there we are given a desire to spread this “thing” to as many people as possible, and maybe just maybe the energy created will be enough to change the world, just as we thought we could do as little kids. I’m not saying we can’t plan and I am not saying that there aren’t ways to make sure these types of impacts occur. But what I am saying is that if you are constantly looking for ways to change the world, then maybe they aren’t as genuine. Sometimes we just have to be patient (something I know I struggle with) and see what life throws our way.
I am also definitely still trying to learn that I’m not a slacker if I spend a weeknight hanging with friends. I am still trying to learn that I can still be making a difference even if I am not constantly running from meeting to meeting. I am still trying to learn that being incredibly busy and always doing work is not what makes me the person others tell me I am. I am still trying to learn the work/play balance that doesn’t make me feel either like a workaholic or a slacker. I don’t think these lessons are going to come over night – but in order to make any of this happen, I have to start believe I am changing the world everyday. I need to live my life with what makes me happy and give up the self judgement. There are no shoulds in life. Someone wise once told me to rid that word from my vocabulary and I made a very good progress with not making commitments to things I didn’t want to do, but thought I should do. However, now its time to apply this to how I treat myself. There is nothing that I should be doing. If I do the things that make me happy and that I want to do, then the rest will fall in place. I have a lot of self growth to do in this department, but the only way to make my dreams come true is if I can start learning this now.
I have been taught something that matters more than all of those: being a good friend. Hong Kong and now Costa Rica I have seen that I don’t spend enough time just being with my friends. After Hong Kong, I became much better at putting aside time to friends and just hanging. But after Costa Rica, the thing I realized the most is that I don’t truly know all my friends. When you come to college everyone has had 17-19 years of their life already and in most friendships its hard to cover all those years. But those years are important and they make us who we are. I truly believe that those I think of as my best friends, I need to get to know more: who they were, are, and want to be. I don’t mean any of this in a lovely way, but in the sense that I want to know, really know, those I care about most in life. Once I can do that, I think I’ll have become the type of friend and person I have always wanted to be.
Being home has been weird. I still say simple phrases in Spanish: gracias, lo siento, si, permiso, con gusto. I am still confused about the time of day because it doesn’t get dark here until 9pm. I am still struggling with being back in a much more materialistic lifestyle. I know there are so many things that I don’t need, but yet have a desire for them, even after spending 3 months in a place totally content with all my belongings, and this makes me sad. I still miss the mountains, the sunsets, the language, and my tica family – but I grew a lot this summer and I am really excited to see the person I become in the next year.
Sorry if this list is repetitive – Things I want to accomplish in the next year:
- Continue Spanish lessons everyday (30 mins to an hour)
- Cook on my own and get my eating behavior under control
- Expand workout routines
- Get to know my friends and family better (skyping once a week or twice a month and hanging out with those near me)
- Get rid of the impossible and silly standards I set for myself
- Understand that I don’t always have to be working and stop feeling like a slacker when I am not