I’ve learned that most people I tell that I lived in the Netherlands really don’t care. Steef in all his infinite wisdom informed us this might happen. Most of the time I don’t tell people. And, if I do 90% of the time a conversation about marijuana ensues. So, it’s almost not worth it to mention it. Or I get a “that’s awesome!” and the topic of conversation immediately changes. Not like I want everyone I tell to ask me a million questions and be enthralled over it but if I cared enough to mentioned it a few questions would be nice. Even if it’s “did you like it?,” “what city did you live in?,” “can you speak any Dutch?” I’m not entirely sure what made me think about this or what possessed me to blog about it. Perhaps it just bothers me. Because I care about what other people have done and are doing with their life. I think it’s interesting to find out what made people who they are. It’d take me forever to explain all the things that happened in my life of any significance but I can definitely pinpoint a number of occurrences in my life that have shaped who I am right now. And, the months I spent in the Netherlands is most certainly one of them.
Another is presenting at the National Conference of Undergraduate Research last year in Missoula, Montana. If you know me you are aware I’m rather reserved and a nervous wreck. Well, I volunteered to not only continue research that I did with a class on my own but I also opted to be the one who presented it at the national conference. First, I am terrified of flying. I live in North Carolina- the conference was held in Montana that year therefore I had to fly there. Third, I didn’t know anyone who was also going from my school. Lastly, I had to speak to people. Lots and lots of people. And these aren’t just regular people to me- they are incredibly intelligent people. If you have the desire to do research as an undergrad and it is good enough to be accepted to NCUR then I’d consider you a smart individual. Low and behold I had a fantastic time. My research and poster was a hit and I spoke gracefully. I sat my note cards down on the ground and didn’t look at them once. That was one of the first times I was legitimately proud of myself.
I’m proud of myself for going to the Netherlands not knowing what I was getting myself into and not knowing a single soul. And of course there’s graduating college. I’ve sort of forgotten how important that is lately. I’m the first person in my immediate family to graduate from college. It was no easy feat. There were many odds stacked against me but I did it. I did it in four years. Sometimes when things don’t turn out how you want them to you forget even the most significant things in your life. Or at least I do. Not being able to go straight to graduate school and taking a job that has little to nothing to do with my major is helping shape me big time. I’m coming out of my comfort zone and pushing myself. May not always be fun but I feel like it needs to happen. Especially if I want to be the best person I can be. So if you’re scared to do something don’t be like me and refrain. Go for it. The few times in my life I have it has paid off big time. I met some of the best friends I will ever have while in Leiden. Amazing men and women that I am thankful for each day. That in and of itself made studying abroad in Leiden worth it.
The experience turned out to be so much more than that though. I learned a lot about myself and what I’m capable of. I learned a lot about other people. A lot about the world. There is an infinite amount to learn. I feel pretty bad about being lazy lately when it comes to learning. I haven’t been reading as much. I haven’t been writing as much. I haven’t been doing the things I love. And you better believe I’ve made countless excuses about it too. I’m tired, I’m broke, I’m unhappy with my situation. It’s all a bunch of crap. A very smart person once told me you choose your attitude towards life. I didn’t want to hear it but he is right. I feel inspired again. So, if I know you then hold me to it. Ask me how I’m doing and make me be honest with you. Ask me if I’ve been reading, writing or taking pictures lately. Ask me what I’ve been eating lately (when I get down I eat the exact same thing for weeks). If you want I’ll do the same for you. We can be accountable to each other. So, not only can we be happy but we can continue to be happy. Life’s too short to lose yourself. Because do you ever really find yourself? I think that if you’re constantly searching to be better than you’d have to rediscover yourself everyday. Maybe I sound like a walking cliche. Or a walking contradiction even. But I’m simply expressing myself. That’s something I need to start doing more.
The song that inspired this post: