Stand Alone

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I almost left without a word. Without a post. Without an explanation. But it excited me immensely so I talked about it to colleagues, friends and family. I’m very fortunate to have consumed an immense amount of love and support since sharing my decision to continue on a different path. I’d like to show the same love in return, by sharing my story and giving those people – and anyone else who cares –  a means to keep up with me. Sometime before the end of last year, I’d fully realized my burnout. I’d been working as a writing/ tech support contractor for a government agency under an administration that went against my core values. I was annoyed by talks of closing borders and building walls when just three years ago I had been working towards a cause to build bridges as an ESL teacher in Cali, Colombia. So finally, a long suspended desire of mine to move to back to Colombia has manifested. After repatriating back to the US in 2015, I’d enviously look on social media and marvel at photos and stories of people living the life that I wanted. A seemingly better life away from the United States. It was only a matter of time before I decided: this is my life. There is no reason to be envious of another’s. Instead, I asked myself what can I do? How can I set myself up so that I can live the best version of my life? 

I didn’t write much during my first crusade in Colombia. Perhaps I wasn’t motivated to write between socializing and preparing lessons. I did read though. I remember specifically reading a borrowed copy of Americanah during my second semester teaching at SENA in Cali. I remember reading and thinking what a remarkable story it was. Nigerian woman and her high school sweetheart who both eventually decide to go on separate pursuits of a better life in the United States and The UK, respectively. It made me realize the lengths and determination of people who want to make a better life abroad. Years later, ironically while dating an expat Nigerian in D.C., I would affirm my own determination to persevere and grow myself, but outside the United States. Once upon a time, I did ponder about how my own future in America would be.

From a young age, I figured I would be a doctor because I was taught they are respected and make a lot of money. But as I grew older, my squeamishness and overall disinterest steered me away from medical pursuits. By high school, I figured I’d be a publicist since I was growing highly social and have always been drawn to all types of media. So I chose to major in Communication Studies. I dabbled in a Marketing double major as well as a minor in Information Technology to satisfy my savvy. Turns out I’d bit off more than I could chew when I took on a heavy IT and business course-load during the same semester my mother fell ill in the hospital. I couldn’t focus under care-taking pressures so I eventually dropped the double major and IT minor. Ultimately, I completed a Professional Writing Certificate program alongside my bachelor’s in Communication Studies. 

Somewhere in the midst of studying, I’d gotten bit by a curiosity that would later become the notorious “travel bug.” My college roommate and I had discussed study abroad and potentially going on the same semester-long exchange program to South Africa. Though, the idea excited me at the time, I wasn’t ready to be that far away from my mother who was gradually improving yet comforted by my support. So, when my mother’s health improved,  I found a short-term summer program I could afford. It was in Finland, where there is no fee for higher education so I’d only be paying for my flight, accommodation and leisure. Though I was concerned for my mom, I rationalized that I’d only be away a short time and I didn’t want to regret missing such a life-shaking opportunity. So just as I’ve done now, once again: I embarked on the unknown and left my comfort zone for the first time. From that moment forward, I’d journal in between different places I traveled and lived. Solo. 

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