482 days ago I left Minnesota. I was uncertain, terrified, doubtful and anxious. I had lived my entire life up until September 24, 2015 in a bubble of certainty. I did my best to plan my every moment, predict my future and live within societal norms. Everything in my life was comfortable and foreseeable. 482 days ago I was just going about the movements of life, not really enjoying it but at the same time not hating it. Life was what it was and I thought it was going to stay that way forever. 482 days ago was the day that I finally made a change and stepped out of my comfort zone and started living my life. I am never going back.
Today I return to Minnesota. I have heard so many people say “I can’t wait to meet the new you.” I hear that and I feel that people may be a little disappointed. The same me is returning. The only difference is that I finally realize what other people have seen in me for years. Most people are so surprised to hear that I have been suffering with anxiety disorder for the last 26 years. They have always seen me as an outgoing, confident, capable, strong individual. Externally I did come off that way, but internally I was a wreck. I never saw myself as that person. I saw myself as nothing more than an anxious person putting on a show. Each day of my life used to be so exhausting trying to meet people’s expectations of who they thought I was.
These last 482 days have finally shown me that I am the person that people have always seen. I am confident. I am outgoing. I am capable. I am strong. I just never knew it. I finally realized that I just need to let go of all control and live life in the present. I have experienced so much these last 482 days, have pushed myself in so many unimaginable ways and have succeeded. I became a teacher. I created everlasting friendships with people that speak a different language. I have stood with the mayor of Phayakkaphum Phisai at the Mother’s Day celebration. I lead 1500 students in line dances. I sang the national anthem in front of 300 grade 5 & 6 students. I drove a motorbike. I visited 17 countries. I flew in 30 planes. I lived in a tent for 67 days in Africa. I slept with lions and under the stars. I went without showering for 3 days. I lived without wi-fi for 8 days. I went 16 months without driving a car. I jumped out of a plane. I got a tattoo. Individually these all may seem like minor things to accomplish, but together for me they are nothing short of amazing.
I return to Minnesota knowing that I can do anything. I can live my life as I want to live it. I can do things on my own. I don’t need to wait on others to do what want to do. I return to Minnesota feeling fulfilled. Feeling happy. Feeling alive. Feeling excited for my future.
Life truly did begin at the end of my comfort zone.