It’s not too long before I head back to America after three and a half months in Shanghai. I still have so many stories to catch up on here at this blog, but I thought it was most important that these words come out fresh from my mind.
This experience like the ones before it has certainly changed my life. It wasn’t as profound as South Africa or as emotional as France, but for me it was never supposed to be. After all the growing up I struggled with for the past 23 years I finally tested myself. In some places I found my limit, and in others I saw there was none in sight. It’s not that I am naive enough to think the world is mine, but simply that I’m willing to make it so. I found things I wasn’t looking for, saw a part of me I didn’t like, and came closer to the person I always thought I should be.
I do have my regrets, and I don’t think it’s a cop out to say “who doesn’t?” The cop out is to believe that we never hold ourselves back and therefore never see the need to change. The answer is not to never have regret, but to learn from your inaction and make every day better than the last. It’s a refusal to truly grow that leads to an inability to truly live.
When I got on the plane to come here, I honestly didn’t know what I was doing. I had reasons in my head, at least enough to convince those around me, but I didn’t really see it myself. I worried it was just to say I did, to see another world, to reinforce the labels I place on myself. Somewhere along the way I forgot about the labels. What came out is a person in between who I was and who I thought I was. I don’t assume that to make me a good person, but I do believe I’m making progress.
I leave here with a new appreciation for family, loyalty, and love. Further away than ever I miss my family and thank them endlessly for their support. I can only begin to see it, but my absolute best friends have always been there to show me what is to be loyal. And then there is love. It took until now for me to appreciate it’s distinctiveness, how far it can make one go, and how different things become in its absence. I am better for it now even in times when I do not feel it.
Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.
-Ralph Waldo Emerson
China, we won’t forget each other just yet.