“And so my prayer is that your story will have involved some leaving and some coming home, some summer and some winter, some roses blooming out like children in play. My hope is your story will be about changing, about getting something beautiful born inside of you, about learning to love a woman or man, about learning to love a child, about moving yourself around water, around mountains, around friends, about learning to love others more than we love ourselves, about learning oneness as a way of understanding God. We get one story, you and I, and one story alone. God has established the elements, the setting and the climax and the resolution. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?
It might be time for you to go. It might be time to change, to shine out.
I want to repeat one word for you:
Roll the word around on your tongue for a bit. It is a beautiful word, isn’t it? So strong and forceful, the way you have always wanted to be. And you will not be alone. You have never been alone. Don’t worry. Everything will still be here when you get back. It is you who will have changed.”
–Donald Miller, Through Painted Deserts
Exactly one year ago, I left Australia after calling it ‘home’ for the most amazing three years of my life.
Once upon a time, I got the crazy idea that I should study abroad in Australia for a semester. I wasn’t enrolled in a university in the USA at the time, so I started researching whether it was possible to go independently of an exchange program. My research led me to discovering the wonderful world of international students.
Where I’m from, studying abroad is nothing unusual. My friends went to Australia, London, Spain, Ecuador… for a semester or less. People don’t just pack up and move across the world for three or four years. That’s crazy. Right?
Well, crazy me was in need of something new. In need of change. In need of something that challenged me and inspired me and let me start over.
So, I packed up some boxes, flew 10000 miles across the world and landed down under at a university I had never seen and where I knew no one.
It was the best decision I have ever made. I made some of the most fiercely loyal, loving friends who taught me about the world and my place in it. I met Joost. I was tan, year round. My life was filled with whale watching, partying on sail boats, jorts, SCUBA diving with sharks and cuttlefish and turtles (all my favorite animals), cuddling koalas, parasailing over the Gold coast, theme parties, pretty dresses, climbing the Brisbane Storey Bridge, running under the stars, fish & chips, drinking beer on the beach, trying to surf, cheap sushi, road trips, winery tours, balconies with views of the city, champagne in Sydney Harbour & waking up looking forward to every new adventure that the day would bring.
I’ve had so many people say to me, ‘I wish I were as brave as you. I could never do anything like that!’
You can be brave. You can do anything you want. You can choose to push aside the fears and worries and move forward and trust in yourself and the universe.
Maybe you’re waiting for the ‘right time’ to be brave and quit your job, change majors, move states, tell that dude you like him, go back to school, ____________________________.
The timing will never be perfect. Making big decisions will never not be scary.
But I know you can do it.
I did it and I’m just an ordinary girl.
One year ago, I said goodbye to one of the most amazing places in the world and not a single day has passed where I don’t miss the beautiful people and places of Australia. Since then, I’ve traveled through Minnesota, Manhattan, Africa and Europe, but every one of those 365 days has included a moment of nostalgia for down under.
I have to continuously remind myself that each new place will bring with it a new chapter to add to my story.
It might be time to change, to shine out. It would be a crime not to venture out, wouldn’t it?