Home and Onward

I almost forgot to mention that we finally did make it back to Costa Rica from our venture through South America. I’ve actually been here for over a week now.

It’s been delicious for my soul, being home. Whilst we were away, I found myself missing everybody here in ways that I had never quite missed them before. Since this was the first time I’d ever been on a trip of this sort, I suppose it entailed new emotions and experiences; and overall it made me appreciate my people even more deeply.

Our trip was necessarily great. Even though I wouldn’t know how to start summarising the extent of my experiences, I can still glance back with a grin of success: We were transformed. Really transformed. I feel that I’ve been impacted permanently, in many different ways. There were so many things that are normally only ever talked about that I got to experience directly in real life. I faced some prominent fears and personal limitations — and I overcame them. Essentially, I lived one of my biggest dreams. (That doesn’t mean, of course, that the dream is finished; my love for travel has only been further impassioned.)
Not to mention, of course, we learned a heap of “do’s” and “do not’s” concerning various aspects of traveling, particularly “do not’s” for when it comes to crossing borders.  I’ll say no more about that.

This post, therefore, will conclude and end my narrative for our South America backpacking trip (a narrative which only truly was just a glimpse of our full adventure.) Now this blog will again become a dwelling for my ramblings and musings.

The house I call home. (Photo credit to my sister, Haley.)

However, I can’t go without at least mentioning the topic implied by the second half of this post’s title. As it happened similarly with Chrystel, I was presented with the “Now what?” interrogation upon returning.
You see, I’m at that notorious age and position where I’m facing the daunting question of what I’m going to do with my life.
It’s daunting, but I’m undaunted.
Sure, perhaps I have my mild melodramatic moments (very, very short moments,) but I’m honestly not anxious about it. Reason number one is that I know God has plans for me, and He’ll let me know what they are, in due time, if I’m keen to listen. Reason number two  is that I’m very much a live-in-the-moment type of person. People often ask me what I want to do with my life (as if I hadn’t even started yet — what a notion,) and whether I say it or not, I always think to myself, “This is my life; I am already doing it.” At least on a small scale, I’m doing what I want to do, and I hope to do more of it, more deeply, more effectively, always learning and always open to progress. Then, whether it’s college, or work, or perhaps another backpacking trip, I know I’ll make it there gradually and promptly. I do prepare for the future, because preparing is important, but I don’t want to get entangled in a notion of only ever preparing — getting caught in that mentality of, “When I finish highschool, then I’ll really be where I want to be….when I finish college, then my life will begin….when I get that job, then I’ll really be living….when I get married, then I’ll be fulfilled….when I retire, then I’ll be happy….” because I’d arrive at that point and realise I’d spent my entire life putting myself off, waiting for my circumstances to be convenient before I allowed myself to live freely, and fully.

I always find myself saying, “You don’t have to go to college to be successful in life.” In reality, that simply depends on your definition of success. If I find that my success or my dream lies untouched on the other side of a flowing river of university education, then I’ll cross it. Nevertheless, I’ve come to realise that rather than prioritizing a focus on what I want to do, it’s more important to know what kind of person I want to be.

Live now, not later, I think.

Credit to Bethany Appelhans

Credit to Bethany Appelhans

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Leaving…Failure

It’s one title with multiple meanings.
We’re nearly approaching our day to leave and head home, so that’s a prominently present reality in our minds; simultaneously as prominent, in these past few days, was the notion of certain failure in a couple of areas. To be more specific, I mean that Chrystel and I were recently both faced with a sense of failure in some of things we had wanted to accomplish or live out. It was worse knowing that it came now so close to the end.
It’s  almost a given, though, isn’t it? –failure when trying new things and endeavouring for great goals. It’s not necessarily required; it’s just a part of life.
That’s why I’ve come to feel that I should neither be so surprised nor so hard on myself when it does happen. Too often, we despair or condemn ourselves when we commit a mistake, as if we’ve forgotten that we’re human and that it’s a natural part of our existence. I was taught that it at least demonstrates that you’re extending yourself beyond your limits and stretching your comfort zone (when it’s fueled by something other than stupidity, of course.)

The most important thing to remember, though, is that we are not defined by our mistakes — or even our accomplishments, for that matter. Your identity still remains intact if you remember why it is that you really matter in life. (You matter because God loves you, to state the simple obvious.)
We concluded that our focus should not be on the mistakes, but on how we deal with them and what we do about them. It can be okay as long as we take responsibility and ownership for our errors. At the very least, we know that’s what our parents will care more about when we get back.

I guess that’s another good meaning for this title. Leaving failure. You leave it behind after dealing with it rather than holding onto the memory and letting it affect you. Grace and forgiveness are really what make it possible anyway. With that, and with not giving up, it usually turns out all right in the end. Keeping hope is massively important; and the reality is that God will always be there to help bring things to complete restoration.

In the end, it wasn’t as dramatically disastrous as we had felt it was in the moment (another good thing to keep in mind.)
Incidentally, here’s the other huge thing I learned: When something bad or difficult happens, and a girl goes into a mood of utter despair and everything is gloom and doom, oftentimes all that’s necessary is to let her talk on and on and vent it all out. You keep your mouth shut and simply nod your head and say an occasional “M-hm. I understand.” Then, once she’s done, you can rest in peace and stop fearing for your life. I’m speaking very generally, of course….