I’m Not Alone

Well, I’ve kind of dropped off the face of the earth. I told myself this blogging thing was going to be my next big thing but I’ve found it hard to stick to. I have been of the (incorrect) mentality that to deserve to write, you have to create something worthy of being read. Which of course is everyone’s ideal. But that mindset plugs up my ability to write anything at all, let alone that award-winning, star power content I’m dreaming of. And what am I so intimidated about anyway? What my four readers are going to think? (Hi Mom) A warning to those four readers, this one's kind of depressing. It's not one to read if you'll searching for hope in humanity. Maybe my next post will be.

Anyway, here I am. And this has been a big year. A lonely year, if I’m honest. Full of really valuable lessons. Experiences that have flipped my world view like a freaking pancake. And left me dizzy. But over the last week, I feel like I have settled for the first time in a very long time. I am finally digging my toes into the dirt, I’m here to stay. For a little bit, at least. For three months, at least. And it feels so good.

I was an optimistic child, and surprisingly an even more optimistic teenager. The angst-y puberty bullet missed me. I was a kid with a real genuine belief that she could change the world. I believed in the good of humanity, the potential for positive change, and my own capacity to contribute to it. Now for the first time in my life, that conviction has wavered. I have been placed in situations that have made the world feel really big and scary and me feel really, really small.

My roller-coaster year (and a bit) went a little like this, I met a woman who grew up through the Holocaust and walked through the concentration camp she survived through. I’ve met young girls who are economically trapped by their sexual abusers and by a culture that tells them it’s their shame to carry if they leave. I’ve met pregnant young girls. I was diagnosed with an ugly auto-immune disorder. I’ve made friends with people whose nation’s economy is collapsing around them. Who lose a third of their life savings every week. I met men who have been shot at by police and have watched their friends die. And I felt so much compassion and humanity until those same men sexually harassed me. I wanted to help them but knew I could not. My heart broke into confusing shapes. I took part in the United Nation’s convention on climate change, met the highest tier of political decision-makers on the climate crisis in the world, and hated what I saw. We're doomed. I met communities who are already suffering because of it. I got so sick it scared me. I couldn't walk. So sick I had to go home. The world is big and I am small.

And the whole time, I was very alone. Geographically alone at least, with the people I love most in the world living clear on the other side of it. Always a text message away, but when you’re hurting, sometimes a text message can feel very far away.

Kind of a downer I know. But maybe the reason I’ve waited to write about the year is that I don’t like telling sad stories until there’s a happy ending. So, rest assured that there is one. Like I said, I am finally digging my toes in the dirt. A week ago, I arrived in Thailand and I will be here for three months. I’m here to work at a really cool non-profit social enterprise. And besides doing some really interesting and valuable work, I am surrounded by incredible, optimistic change-makers every day. People who have seen the kinds of things I have seen and are working toward change anyway. I'm a part of a team. Being here now makes me realize just how high my expectations for myself were before. I had forgotten that I'm not the only one out there trying to make a positive change in the world and forgotten the value of finding those people. I’ve learned that being a part of a team, a community of people who are reaching for the same goals as you, is one of the most important ingredients for success. And contentment for that matter. That’s how it is for me at least. Some operate well on their own, but I am stronger when I’m supporting and supported by others. What a wonderful lesson to learn. God knows I worked hard to learn it.

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