2017 Goals: The Good Year

Sometimes, I say/write things that aren’t true. Not because I’m a compulsive liar or enjoy throwing people for a loop. Not because I enjoy tripping myself up (because I really don’t).

Sometimes, I say things aren’t true because my whole life is organized around my internal processing skills (both a joy and a pain of being an INFJ personality type). Sometimes, what I actually want/think/believe takes some time to catch up to what I think I want/think/believe.

Truthfully, it’s all a bit of a pain in the ass sometimes, but it’s the way I roll.

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At the beginning of 2016, I wrote about my lofty goals for the year.

They were very much internal goals and, correspondingly, I spent much more time in 2016 trying to figure myself out and grow as a person than I have in the previous 22 years of my life combined. All the outward changes in my life were based on these internal goals–my decision to leave Thailand and move back to the United States was very much based off of an internal understanding that the growth I needed to accomplish at that time couldn’t be done in a country and culture that were so far away from my comfort zone. My decision to travel to Europe for two weeks was based on a desire to find comfort with an old friend after a jarring few months in Asia, and my decision to move to Washington, DC, was based on an intuitive feeling that it’s where I needed to be to find a bit more of myself.

Even before I decided to leave Thailand, I knew 2016 needed to be a year of internal change–and it proved to be exactly that.

At the beginning of 2016, I had an intuitive feeling that it was going to be memorable and life changing…and it was.

Now, at the beginning of 2017, I have this very intuitive feeling that it’s going to be a good year. What does good mean exactly? I guess I’ll find out, but I’ve also learned in the past few months that more often than not, I can’t simply trust my intuition–I must act on it.

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I recently texted a friend that I’ve been feeling a bit directionless lately–which was, in the moment, a true statement. That said, in the aftermath of pressing the send button, I found myself feeling very negatively that I had expressed that statement at all. I had a moment a few hours after sending that message where I thought, I think I’m feeling directionless right now…but am I really? It was a classic INFJ moment of clarity that got the wheels actively turning in my head towards a changed mindset.

It’s true that I have been feeling directionless lately but, contrary to that feeling, in the past month I’ve actually started the process of setting out a very clear direction in front of me. I realized in my moment of clarity that the feeling I had of directionless wasn’t a lack of direction in itself–it was a fear of following the direction I’m realizing I want for myself now. Continue reading “2017 Goals: The Good Year”

2016: A Reflection

2016, I have decided, will be a year of confidence, of poise, of adventure. It will be putting myself out there in more ways while also continuing to nurture the introvert inside of me. It will be sticking up for myself and chasing after my dreams. It will be blossoming even further into the strong, independent woman I know is inside of me. It will be having faith in my decisions, not doubting what my heart tells me.

 January 3, 2016

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 2016 was a year. On a global scale, many would agree that it sucked.

On a personal level, it sometimes sucked, but it was mostly quite full. If 2015 was the best year of my life thus far (as I’m pretty sure I dubbed it at its close), 2016 has been the most enriching. In many respects, it was a very painful year—particularly in its early months. 2016 was completely losing all sense of self while simultaneously trying my best to live in a foreign country and culture. It was being alone in Thailand on my birthday, with head lice and pneumonia in tow—at the same time. It was striking out independently in search of my place in this world and feeling a lot of uncertainty, anxiety, and doubt along the way.

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It was also leaving these cuties and the joy of teaching them (on the rare occasions when they wanted to be taught) behind, unsuccessfully holding back tears as I left their classrooms for the last time, because the love, kindness, and intellect of children is grossly undervalued and because they taught me so much.

That said, 2016 did have its bright spots: traveling in Europe with an old high school friend; showing my parents around the beautiful country I called home for six months; having no clue what the heck to do with my life post-Thailand, but trusting my gut in Continue reading “2016: A Reflection”

To Be Alone

If you can’t eat by yourself, how do you expect to have a baby by yourself?”

“I can eat by myself!”

“When have you ever?”

“When certain people leave the table and I am not finished!”

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I’ve been watching a lot of Friends lately–I’m in the process of making it through all ten seasons of the show. In fact, I’m nearly to the end of the last season and will probably have a crisis of identity and livelihood once I’m finished–in the words of one of my current roommates: “They’ve become your friends.” Uh. Yeah. Basically.

Anywho.

Friends aside, I’ve also recently been thinking a lot about the concept of being alone. I just moved to a new city and though I know my temporary roommates and occasionally do things with them, we’re all busy and have different interests. More often than not, I’ve been finding myself doing my own thing in my spare time–going out and visiting new places on my own, exploring DC and the area around it.

Naturally, being the writer I am, when I spend a lot of time thinking about something, I usually turn to eventually writing Continue reading “To Be Alone”

In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt

Moving to a different city without any job security waiting for you is scary. I’m so glad I did it. I feel more at peace about where I am than I have in ages. It’s still scary, though.

I went to brunch with a fellow graduate from my alma mater a couple weeks ago-she recently acquired a job in DC and moved here–and we were sharing stories about our experiences abroad. She had recently studied abroad in Europe and I, of course, am a few months back from Thailand. We started talking about places and the feelings we get from those places–how she enjoyed her time abroad, but how the city she was living in during her study abroad experience just didn’t feel right for her. How she didn’t feel inspired or alive in it. I was able to relate so much with her because that’s exactly how I felt about Thailand. That’s why I moved placements at the beginning of November and why I ultimately left Thailand in the end. While my second and final placement felt more right to me, it still wasn’t enough. While I will always love Minnesota because it’s my home, living there didn’t feel right, either. Now that I’m in DC, I just know this is where I’m supposed to be for the time being. I think places are like books–the best books are the ones that you read at a time in life when you resonate with them most. Likewise, the best places are those that you can resonate with most at a given time. Thailand was a fantastic place for me to travel through at this point in my life–but it wasn’t the right place for me to Continue reading “In Which I Consider The Future…and Feelings of Doubt”

A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai

When I was planning my trip to Sukhothai, I knew I wanted to stay there for a few days. While I knew Sukhothai Historical Park was the main attraction for visitors coming to Sukhothai Province, I decided to look into other things to do in the area to keep me busy for the entirety of my stay. When I travel, I like to spend at least a few days in a given area. I tire easily (a reality of being a highly sensitive person) and I also like to take time to really get to know and appreciate an area. I’d always rather see less overall on a trip and take in as much as I can in one place than constantly be moving from place to place. During my trip to Sukhothai, I was satisfied to just explore the town of New Sukhothai on one day and had Sukhothai Historical Park planned for another day. Given that I had three full days in Sukhothai, I wanted to find another adventure to go on elsewhere in the province for the third day.

Enter Si Satchanalai. Si Satchanalai (more commonly know as Si Satch by the locals) is a district in Sukhothai Province about an hour north of New Sukhothai, the capital city of the province. It is home to Si Satchanalai Historical Park, a veritable treasure trove of gorgeous temple ruins in a wooded and rustic setting.

Si Satch was the sister city of Old Sukhothai and the administrative center of the Sukhothai Kingdom.

Lovers of history and architecture and those travelers intrigued by sites off the main tourist path will love Si Satch. It’s a bit out of the way and requires more planning, more walking/biking, and definitely more water (a mistake I ran into that I will get to later), but, as someone who is both a history nerd and appreciates places outside the main tourist path, I absolutely adored Si Satch–and came away with a few lessons about solo travel along the way. I wouldn’t recommend going to Si Satch in place of Sukhothai Historical Park–you’d be missing out on a lot of really great sites and culture by doing that–but if you have an extra day in Sukhothai Province and aren’t put off by spending two days in a row visiting ancient cities, I definitely recommend the trip to Si Satch; it is an absolute gem of a place. Overall, I found my experience Continue reading “A Day Trip to Si Satchanalai”

Post College: One Year Out and Still Learning

Being able to obtain an education is one of the greatest gifts the world can offer and I’m grateful for all that I learned in my four years of college–both inside and outside the classroom. That said, I firmly believe that it is possible to learn just as much outside an academic setting, if not more. Going out into the world is a different type of learning than what is offered inside a university setting–rather than developing my critical thinking skills and pushing the boundaries of my mind as I did in college, I’ve learned a lot from personal experiences in the last year. Here I present some little nuggets of wisdom that I took away from my first year out of college. It’s only the beginning and I’m positive there is much more to come from my ventures in learning out in the quote-on-quote “real world.” So, without further ado:

  • Loneliness is sometimes self-inflictedYou and only you have the power to build relationships with the people around you. No one else will do that for you. If you’re nice to people and show an interest in them, they’ll probably like you. For most of my life, I’ve struggled with building meaningful relationships with people and had no idea what to do–turns out it’s way easier than I ever thought and I just over analyze the hell out of everything.
  • An unknown future is only terrifying if you allow it to be terrifying. Too many people are afraid to follow their dreams because they’re afraid of the unknown, but life is too short not to embrace the opportunities you want to embrace. In fact, if it scares you, you’re probably doing something right.

Continue reading “Post College: One Year Out and Still Learning”

To Focus on Focus

The Newbery Award is the highest honor given out for excellence in children’s literature. It is given out annually–The Newbery Medal is given as the highest award and the Newbery Honor is given to a few runner ups.

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John Newbery Medal, front and back Source

When I was younger, my dream was to one day become a Newbery Award winner.

As a child, I was a voracious writer. I had this huge ledger book filled with unfinished stories and I was always adding to it, always coming up with new ideas. When I was around seven or eight years old, I wrote a story that was deeply rooted in my love and appreciation for Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House on the Prairie series entitled, “Little House in the Hills” (you can really get a sense of how my creative juices were flowing there). When I was around thirteen and fourteen, I actually had the gumption to send my one completed manuscript to a local publisher in the Minneapolis area. The manuscript was kindly rejected with a note from the publisher stating that, while I had promise as a writer, “it just wasn’t what they were looking for.” It was, quite frankly, all for the best as the story itself was a bit on the shaky side. Well. A lot on the shaky side. Let’s just say that it’s safe to say that I’ve improved quite a lot as a writer since then…still, I can’t help but admire my younger self for her determination and drive.

Come high school, my desire to write quickly died away. I took one creative writing class in my freshman year of high school but after that, my dream to write–to become a Newbery Medalist–faded. I was heavily involved with the band program at my high school and was preoccupied with fitting into my friend group. I didn’t think I had time to write and, although I occasionally got out my journal to write lengthy entries about the goings on in my life, I no longer considered myself to be a writer. It wasn’t until my junior year of college that the writer within me reemerged. After breaking off from a serious and very detrimental long-term relationship, I was searching for a way to reclaim my life for myself. I had become so invested in my ex-boyfriend and the relationship that I had with him that I had really lost all sense of myself. Around the time of our break up, memories of the writer I used to be, the writer I dreamed to become, rekindled. I began to realize that writing was, indeed, a part of my identity–a part that I had the misfortune of rejecting for far too many years. With that in mind, I started to a blog–to force myself into the habit of doing one of the things I loved most again and often.

To write.

Still, though, throughout the rest of my college career and into my time in Thailand, I never once considered writing to be anything more than a hobby. A hobby that I happened to be really good at, but a hobby none-the-less. I strongly Continue reading “To Focus on Focus”

The View from Home

It’s an incredibly good feeling, knowing that you did the right thing for yourself regardless of how hard it was or how difficult it was to get there.

As I watched the plane I was on for the first length of my journey back to the States take off from Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok a handful of days ago, I was overcome with a burst of emotion and I started to cry. They were brief tears. They didn’t last long. But they were tears none-the-less.

It’s really hard to explain my feelings toward Thailand. How, at  times, while I was living there, I hated it. How unhappy I was while I was living there. How I couldn’t wait to leave when I was preparing for my two week trip to Europe in mid-March.

While in Europe, the friend I was visiting with gave me some really good advice. At that point, I was still feeling a lot of animosity towards Thailand for the hardships I experienced while living there; I was more than happy to be spending time on European soil. I was telling her how much Continue reading “The View from Home”