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Courage, Dear Heart

3 days until my flight back to the States after 10 months of traveling. So, what did I learn [from a Western perspective*]?

  1. ...that there is never a right time to travel or to live out your dreams, whatever they may be. You'll need courage and heart, resolve, and maybe for life to kick you in the ass a bit. With a bit of planning, what you want can be done, and what you want, can and will also change as you change, so try not to get too stuck in an ideal. Live what makes you feel alive.

  2. Life is hard. Nobody said it was going to be easy to make change happen, to do something new. You're not going to be good at everything your first go-around or even the hundredth one. It's not supposed to be easy, and going back to doing something just because you like it, because it challenges you, and not because it gives you a skill to add to your CV, really can bring you back to a place where child's play resurfaces. Don't you owe that delicious experience to yourself? Life/Action is hard. It's always your choice to make a challenge into a triumph or to stand still.

  3. Not everyone will support you, your friends, your family... Some people will envy you. Some won't say anything at all, and that could say everything. That's okay. It's your life to live, and that's a realization that every party will come to.

  4. Everyone deserves your heart and compassion, but maybe just not your vulnerability at any given moment. I learned to cut ties with grace and good will.

  5. Love, friendship, connection, all of it, is worth it, worth the pain, the goodbyes, the nostalgia. The “enemies” you think you have or built up in your mind teach you too. Every person has been a lesson for me, whether I chose to accept it or not at the time. Thank you. You must know who you are.

  6. Your past molded you, but it doesn't need to be what defines you in the now. It's important to share, to communicate with others, what makes you react in certain ways and what makes you unique. HOW you react and take responsibility when when your triggers are presented is what makes you be in the now. Embrace it.

  7. Mistakes are to be made. Mistakes will happen. Accept it. A cultural faux paus, a poorly-chosen word, misunderstandings, terrible haircuts when you can't communicate with your stylist (heh?). These WILL humble you. Know that nothing can be so bad as to be unhealable, staying unresolved. The human spirit is resilient. YOU are resilient. Sometimes, you don't even need a conversation with another person. Sometimes, a conversation with yourself will suffice and be just as good, if not better.

  8. This year, I learned my strengths. I learned about my great, big, weeping heart. I felt how my far-reaching compassion and careful, kind words could be for anyone who needed an ear. I learned what a crazy, beautiful mind can produce, even in darkness, maybe especially in perceived darkness. I thirst freely to present my art to others to connect over, to feel fulfilled. I begin to learn and continue to discover what I can offer to the world that is unique.

  9. I learned that self-love and care is an active choice that you make every day. Not all days are brilliant or go as expected, and you're especially tested while traveling, without friends, family near. It's worth it to stop for a even just a moment to breath and to listen to your voices, to see if you can't turn the conversations and patterns around in any desperate moment. Love from others can also bring you up, and part of self-love is reaching out to those that already love you or could love you for help.

  10. I was surprised to learn... that there is a very human part of me that deeply desires to care for someone, for something. When I get to my new “home” in Shanghai, it may be time for my first dog ever, haha.

  11. I learned that that there is no “right” choice, that “Who I am to be/who do I want to be?” is a way more powerful question in authoring our own lives than, “What is the best place/career/relationship for me?” See Ruth Chang's Ted Talk, How To Make Hard Choices. I will always choose what makes me grow, even if it's harder, Teach For America, India, Vipassana, THIS life...

Thanks everyone.

Won't be the last you'll hear from me.

Love you from Taitung, Taiwan.


*I acknowledge that these words come from a place of privilege, of having free will and choice, and opportunities.

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