Almost 3 years ago, I made some unaccepted but certain decisions in my life. I took a break from college to travel and volunteer in South Africa. It stirred a lot of judgement from family and friends for me to just step down from a very important milestone in my life to fulfill what was empty inside of me.

With the beginning of a new year, I’m here to reflect how that part of my life really helped me become who I am today.

Before I left for Cape Town in the summer of 2013, I was dating someone who helped me grow and learn a lot about myself. Like young college students, we were idealistic and very naive. We were dreamers, striving for passion, meaning, and success. I left to Cape Town in the beginning of September and felt a part of me being filled by an experience I had to do in solitude. After I returned back to the states and saw him for the first time in a while, he jokingly shook my shoulders with his endearing hands and said: “You don’t have to be so strong all the time.”

Throughout the hard and frustrating moments in my life, that one statement still applies to me then and today.

In 2016, I bought one of those ginormous backpacks and hopped on a plane to Asia. I saw my best friends doing incredible and inspiring things all around the world. Each country I touch down upon was like a stomping ground for me to breathe new air. I met strangers who I now call friends, exchanged hilariously absurd and heart wrenching stories, risked my life a few times on some thrilling adventures, and dipped my toes in the Indian Ocean again.

2016 gave me another opportunity to make more special moments to travel, fall in love, work hard, and remind myself that it’s certainly fine to not be so strong all the time.

I’m inspired by the past, present, and future. I am grown by the people who have shaped who I am. I am open in expressing the pieces of love, sadness, laughter, heartbreak, passion, and kindness that has been apart and remains in me. Here’s to the past, present, and future of our lives.


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