Airport regulations had determined this was as far as we could travel together. I put down my carry-on bag, kissed my mom, and hugged my dad goodbye. I told them I loved them, picked up my bag, and trudged toward the terminal.
It all felt rushed. It felt like it somehow wasn’t enough of a goodbye, but deep down I knew there was no such thing. We all know it. We will never truly be ready to take a leap of faith, especially a leap of faith in ourselves.
I wanted to look back as I was walking away, but I couldn’t risk letting my parents see their twenty six year old man-child of a son with tears in his eyes. So instead of seeing them one last time I just kept walking, step-by-step and teary eyed, until I found my way through security and into my seat on a plane heading to the city of angels. Those were the first official steps of a personal journey that was long overdue.
I remember the feelings swirling inside of my stomach after I had left LAX and was floating from cloud to cloud somewhere above the pacific. Each moment took me further away from a net of safety I had kept under myself for my entire life.
Without that net to fall back on, my fears and vulnerability were naked and exposed. I felt a deep sense of loneliness, fear, uncertainty, and had absolutely no trust in myself.
A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Lao-tzu, The Way of Lao-tzu.
I think when any of us take that leap of faith in ourselves, pull up our ancient roots, and jump outside of our comfort zone, these buried feelings will naturally float to the surface. We need to embrace these feelings because, in the end, they will always be our greatest pillars of strength.
I had just taken a massive dive into the depths of the great unknown. It can be dark and terrifying in there – for any of us. The journey can be anything. Whether you’re changing schools, considering a swap in professions, or moving to a foreign land, always remember that the inherent fear that accompanies such a leap does not define you.
It is the bravery you’re showing in facing that darkness that makes you who you are. You are strong and brave for even taking those little steps into the unknown.
The best part? You will never break. You may feel like you’re bending at times, but the unknown will never snap you. It will only show you your own durability. It will show you that you’re not made of glass, you’re not fine china. Instead you’ll see that you can bend and twist. You are as strong as the blacksmith’s hammer and as unbreakable as the anvil he hammers upon. The great unknown will teach you to trust in yourself.
I remember the feeling of loneliness eating away at my insides as I lay in bed over 18000km from everything and everyone I had ever known and loved. I had confused not having those people with me in the physical sense with having lost them completely. Yet time alone has the unique ability to change profoundly how we understand the things nearest to our hearts.
In time, we learn that we are never truly alone. The relationships you have with those closest to you have created bonds of immense love that you carry within you always. That love shines through you.
That love returns to you perpetually in the form of those people in your life that love you just as dearly as you love them. You will see that you don’t need them physically present to have them by your side.
Love is the one thing we can possess as humans that transcends both physical space and time. With this understanding also comes the realization that we’ve actually brought our safety nets with us. That reassurance is our protective light. For the dark depths of the abyss feasts only on those who are alone and unprotected. The courage and strength we get from knowing, deep down, that those close to us are still supporting and loving us is all we really need.
Even with a rough plan of obtaining my Juris Doctor in place, I still had no real sense of moving forward and no real end goal in sight. I was lost. But something inside of me forced me onward. I kept moving, and so will you. We keep moving because we know inherently that it’s better than standing still and letting the entire world spin around us. We keep moving so we never get stuck.
And then a funny thing happens. We look back at our own footprints in the sand and we realize it’s never been about where we’re going. It’s about the thousands of steps we’ve taken along the way. It’s about the steady hardening of our soft little paws. It’s about seeing how we grow with each step, each moment of progression.
It’s about the pieces of yourself – what makes you whole – that you’ll rediscover and collect along the way. For on your journey you won’t be finding a newer, better version of yourself, you’re simply remembering who you’ve always been. And who you’ve always been has always been perfect.
So keep your head up. Keep yourself moving. Travel down your personal path, whatever it may be, every single day. Some days you’ll only muster a few small steps, and that’s okay. Just as long as you stay the course.
Be excited to look back on the steps you’ve left behind instead of stressing every day about where you may or may not end up. It’s never been about the destination. It’s about the journey, and yours belongs to you.
You are not alone and you will not break. Trust in yourself, because you’re already on your way.
Be good to each other,