I've been waiting and waiting for the right time to write my last entry. I know many people have been anticipating it, and I'm so sorry to make you wait, but I knew this one is important. Probably the most important.
I wanted to wait a good deal of time after coming home to conclude my thoughts on Cape Town. Now that I've been back in the States for nearly a month, I feel like confident to say I have truly changed because of my experiences of the last 5 months.
I'm aware that post after post while I was away, I continually commented on how much I was learning. experiencing. sharing. living. etc. But I didn't think, and still don't, that any of that would truly matter if I just switched back to my old self once arriving back in familiar territory.
Well, I think I've passed.
After arriving back in the states, as well as spending considerable time in Minnesota and DC, I have struggled to find someone, or anyone that is willing to sit and listen to all of my stories. This, more than anything has tested my patience with coming home. I spent 4 months trying my hardest to change for the better, and continually pushing myself to grow....for what?
The key thing to remember is that I didn't go for anyone else. Therefore, I can't expect them to listen to everything. I must understand that no one...no matter how great they are...is gonna want to hear about every little story. But that's ok. They are my stories, and although I love sharing them with others, the sharing isn't the important part.
Many people have made comments on my personality and how its changed since I left in July. Dozens have commented on my more relaxed attitude towards life, as well as my new found ability to "go with the flow" -- a characteristic I seemed to struggle with in the past.
I have a very distinct memory of a conversation with my father from years ago. He was comparing the amount of worry he expended on my brother vs. me. His explanation was that he worried less about Johnathon, because he was more flexible, and more likely to be happy in a variety of situations/futures....rather than attached to a strict set of goals like I had, of course leading to a much greater chance of disappointment.
After hearing the comment, I remember getting defensive...I wasn't stuck on goals. I could do whatever. I'm flexible. right?
Then? Not a chance.
Now? I genuinely think so.
Daddy, you don't have to worry anymore. Because although I know you still would have rathered I stayed home where it was safer, I've grown like you wouldn't believe. And possibly the most important lesson you've taught me....one mustn't live their life in fear.
The past 3 weeks since S'Africa have been even more of the time for reflection than my entire trip combined. What am I going to do in the future? What about those goals? I continually find myself wanted to completely switch my drive towards a career in photography, design, etc. However, I always get stuck up on that word... "career". Whyyyyyyy do I have to worry about that now?
oh wait. I don't. No body said that I have to pick something now and stay with it for ever and ever and ever.
good thing too, because that's definitely not going to happen.
More than ever, and most importantly, I have made possibly the largest shift in my outlook towards relationships.
In the past, I spoke about how important relationships were to me. My friends and my family were "everything to me". Words, words, words. Not to say it was entirely untrue....but looking back, there were large gaps between how I spoke and how I acted. I love my family, and especially my friends, and its about time that I genuinely treasure them for the gems in my life that they are.
Its funny, because I think the person who is most shocked about my new outlook is me. For the first time I actually believe the words that are coming out of my mouth when I speak of taking time to respect my relationships, placing them as a priority in my life, and offering them the attention they deserve.
Let me paint you a picture...
here I sit, legs folded, on my bed, in my multi-colored room.
To my right, on the floor, rest the still-packed suitcases that made the trip home with me from Cape Town. Scattered about my room, and the rest of the house, are the souvenirs I gathered from my journey -- a wine glass from Nelson's winery, a bracelet that a native Botswanan made for me in the Delta, and my camera which served as a trusty partner throughout it all.
Finally, just seconds ago, as if an act of fate, the song "I've Gotta Feeling" by Black Eyed Peas -- my anthem from S'Africa, played in every car ride, club, and bar -- just started playing on the radio.
Tears are streaming my face.
I can't believe its over. I know I'll always have the memories....but I simply cannot believe its over.
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