Bird’s eye views of skylines and city lights turn to vast expanses of greens and blues.
Uniformed suburban neighborhoods solely ranging in shades of brown turn to multicolored, shape-shifting, scattered homes.
Organized, congested, car-dominant freeways turn to chaotic, unevenly paved, motorbike-filled streets.
I am already falling in love with Thailand. It is a quiet love, surrounded by aromas of after-rain, powerful flavor, and hospitality. I keep quiet. Taking it all in. Silencing every bit of woo that wants to jump out, scream, and attack and still triumphs at times. I want to listen to the sounds, smell the smells, feel the country’s warmth. I want to be quiet.
The sounds have been my favorite. In my room alone, I hear accents from South Africa, France, Myanmar, and India. The rest of the students and staff in my program are from places like Australia, the Philippines, Jamaica, Indonesia, Malaysia, Georgia, South Korea, Thailand and China. I am surrounded by people who have lived all around the world, come from different backgrounds, see the world from different lenses and yet somehow, we are all here, under the same roof, together, seeking a faith that clearly, doesn’t break, but transcends through cultural norms and boundaries.
Coming in at an immensely close second is the food. Oh the food. I could write my first ever love letter to this food. I am so glad it is socially acceptable to eat Thai food (obviously) every day here. I had guava again, Thai mango, Chicken pad thai, green and yellow curry, pineapple fried rice, iced Thai tea, OH THE LIST GOES ON. And it will continue to go on for the rest of my stay here and I am completely ok with that.
I already feel at home in this unfamiliar place. I am so thankful I am here.
Surround yourself with people who nourish your soul.Unknown (via psych-facts)
Two full days left until I go to Thailand for two months.
It’s strange actually. The last few weeks, I haven’t really been thinking about it much, besides the need to raise money for it. I have barely reflected on what my time will be like. That, that is so unlike me. I think of it in bursts. I’ll stare off creating scenarios, as I usually do, and then move on to something else. The other day I took the opportunity to sift through my old memory boxes, specifically my middle school one. Lately, I have been oddly reminiscent of older (and sometimes more drama-filled) times because of this trip. The past two weeks have been filled with checklists, work days, whimsical friends, Kodak finds, encouragement texts, and Amy Poehler.
I haven’t taken the time to just sit. Sit. Read. Write. Things I should have been doing right? Sometimes, when I do this before a big journey, the results are over-excitement, too many expectations, and worries about what will happen in that particular journey. Maybe this is my reaction, the fight against old impulses, to get ahead of myself. Maybe this is me subconsciously preventing myself from creating unnecessary boundaries via expectations, keeping myself from worry, and letting myself become a little more present. I honestly had no idea that’s what this was. Maybe it’s not. It’s probably my FOMO (fear of missing out) acting out in full speed mode, making sure I do not miss a thing, over-compensating for things I will be missing in the future: Halloween, Thanksgiving, my birthday at home, Christmas, maybe New Years. Boy if I had a terminal illness and you looked at my charts, (I don’t know they say “charts” in Grey’s Anatomy) it would say FOMO in big, black, bold letters across the entirety of said chart. This may possibly be my greatest weakness and strength. A blessing and a curse. You ENFJs and ENFPs know what I’m talking about. I have to make sure I keep that FOMO in check when I’m traveling. That is where I need to be at that moment. That is where I wish there was a cool tunnel vision filter on my mind, forcing me to focus to tasks at hand and people around me.
Those two paragraphs consisted of me trying to figure myself out. Congrats! You just got a healthy dose of what my mind circles around on the daily. Constantly trying to learn about myself and why I do the things I do, or think the things I think. Then again, when I say “you” I usually mean my Future Self (who this blog is dedicated to) which means that you are already aware of and quite familiar with my mind in mega-fast-marathon-level elliptical mode. But if this isn’t in fact Future Me, well then congrats again. You did it. You know what it’s like to be inside my brain. Gross.
Anyways, I leave in two days. What. It is officially getting real now. As I am going through the packing process at a snail’s pace, checking things off self-made boxes to make me feel accomplished, preparing myself for my last family meal (because steak, mashed potatoes, and creamed corn and that’s perfect), and saying temporary goodbyes, I know I am ready. I am more than content with doing goodbyes and “let’s meet up when I get back”s because I know that I need to take this next step in my journey. I need to chase things I am passionate about with full force. I need figure out more of this “identity” and “purpose” thing as a cliche post-grad millenial. Actually, I don’t care that it is cliche or trite, so what, at least I am pursuing something I know is so so very real to me.
I met with a friend I’ve known since 6th grade the other day.
Sidenote: FM, be sure to stay in contact with these friends. You don’t have many true friendships from this long ago and the fact that you have seen each other struggle and grow within the past 11 years is irreplaceable. These friendships should be handled with care and intention. End of sidenote.
We did our usual catching up on each others’ lives type thing but we both shared future goals and promises to each other. We want to live full lives. We want to chase things that truly matter, not things that society claims should matter. Like empty success and feigned relationships. Sure, we said this with trembling voices paired with concern that our future selves would scoff at this young, naive speech bubble but we quickly shook that off and promised each other to invest in people and experiences, not things.
So I want to remember that. This blog is here for that exact reason. To remind you, Future Self, that these urges, these fireplace sparks turned wooden palette filled bonfires, are worth something. They have value and there is space for that in this world.
Thailand is where you should be in this next step. Take it all in and “milk it” as you once said in an old study abroad blog entry written over two years ago. And for the spirit of reminiscence, I’ll leave you with your senior quote from high school (who knew something like that would be resurrected at such a time as this):
"To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield."
-Alfred, Lord Tennyson, Ulysses
Why do I want to go to the Medialight program in Thailand?
I’m going to be honest here. I was skeptical.
(Warning: My thoughts are a little all over the place right now so bear with me here).
I have been within the walls of Christian institutions since 6th grade and as a new graduate, I honestly wanted, needed something different. I wanted to get out of the Christian context and gain new perspectives on life. Don’t get me wrong, my experiences in middle school, high school, and university were immensely different and I grew so much in the process and for that, I am thankful. I just needed to get out and pursue a faith outside institutional barriers. I have some concerns with the Church itself, which also added to my hesitations.
Since my freshman year in college, it’s been a constant chase for authenticity and genuine love with healthy doses of doubt, indifference, critical thought, and yearning. The Medialight program I will be doing in Thailand is based on missions, leadership, and media so initially, I was not quick to leap at the opportunity because it seemed to just be another similar context. This was not something I would quickly decide on just because of my love for travel. I wanted to make sure I would go for the right reasons. So I waited, waited, until I had a conversation with an old friend, a friend who had gone through this program and who I had grown up with. She told me that she too had trouble with inauthentic experiences in the Church but explained to me that this program was different. It was personal, real, difficult, and raw. That is what I really wanted. And I was dumb in thinking it could somehow be the same context as my other experiences.
So that same day, I applied for the program and a couple days later, I got in. I had interests in photography back in high school but never invested too much time into it. I loved creating videos for projects and family affairs. I thoroughly enjoy writing and blogging (hence the ownership of this here blog for the past 4 years). Basically, I love utilizing my creativity and it is high time I created space for that. So I get to learn new skills, sharpen old ones, build relationships, work on myself, pursue my faith, explore a new culture, and create projects of things I am passionate about: culture, social justice, humanity, and challenging perspectives. So why not go for it? This is an incredible opportunity that intertwines the wide spectrum of interests and passions that I have and it is time to take bold steps, make moves. Life is about experiences that enable cognitive expansion. It is about getting outside your comfort zone, even when comfort resides in skepticism. For me, this can be paralyzing. I can let eye-squinting concern keep me immobilized, wading in pessimism and fear.
In this new chapter in life, it can feel natural to seek assurance, safety, and finality. We want to know what we are meant to do with our lives. We want to know how we are going to spend the rest of our lives. I admit, I definitely do. I know that pressure all to well—that pressure has been my little sidekick for quite some time. BUT I DO NOT KNOW. At all. And that is totally and completely fine. There is nothing wrong with that. And there’s nothing wrong with knowing. These desires and passions I have down to the core of who I am are obviously not there by coincidence so maybe if I chase, pursue those things with vigor and zest, I will naturally connect with my purpose along the way. The possibility of that is enough to get me going. So this is my next step. This is my next adventure. I am so excited for this leg of the journey.
Always remember, the journey is the destination.
Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.Anthony Bourdain, No Reservations (via kvtes)
You’re somebody worth investing in. Everybody who has ever met you knows it, God knows it, it’s a fact. And that means your dreams and adventures are worth supporting! You just keep doin you because the world is a little better with you in it.THE most encouraging words from my good friend Alissa.
Observing social media and people around me, it is clear how Robin Williams has impacted so many people through who he was and what he has done. Various roles and different films can reach people. Art can move people. His art did just that. And it did that for me. I grew up watching his movies and distinctly remember him being my favorite actor, even as a little girl. I wanted to make people laugh just like he did. Here are some quotes that have influenced me in some way, shape, or form:
Dead Poets Society
But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for. To quote from Whitman, “O me! O life!… of the questions of these recurring; of the endless trains of the faithless… of cities filled with the foolish; what good amid these, O me, O life?” Answer. That you are here - that life exists, and identity; that the powerful play goes on and you may contribute a verse. That the powerful play *goes on* and you may contribute a verse. What will your verse be?
No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world.
There’s a time for daring and there’s a time for caution, and a wise man understands which is called for.
Carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.
Why do I stand up here? Anybody?…I stand upon my desk to remind myself that we must constantly look at things in a different way.
Sucking the marrow out of life doesn’t mean choking on the bone.
I always thought the idea of education was to learn to think for yourself.
O Captain, my Captain.
This movie, a movie my dad made me watch at a very young age has affected much of how I live my life. It shaped the teaching antics of my most influential teacher, my 5th grade teacher Mr. Kimzey. Because of this film, I learned how to be bold, how to stand on tables, and how education should be. It sewed in my head ideas of living an extraordinary life, a life full of dreams, words, and ideas. I learned about the dead poet’s honor, a word of honor, even stronger than a promise. It taught me about wisdom and daring. It taught me about the power of story, perspective, and compassion. It showed me how I someday would like to influence my future students and children. This is why I made my Korean students stand on their desks. This is why I told them that no matter what anyone tells them, they are bold, they are brave, and they are strong. I owe all of that to this spectacular piece of art.
To continue with his other films that really shaped me: Patch Adams taught me how humor, dignity, and care can affect the quality of life; Hook imprinted upon me the importance and necessity of belief and imagination; Mrs. Doubtfire showed the importance of throwing caution to the wind when you truly love; Aladdin gave me a song I still sing, impressions I still do, and a humor I still have; and Good Will Hunting taught me the importance of vulnerability and in some ways, how we should love.
We are affected by society. We are affected by people and the roles they play in our lives, whether it be a literal acting role or metaphoric role. It’s things like these that teach us and aid in shaping us. That’s worth something.