I grew up knowing that I would always be safe. There was a plan, and if I followed it exactly, I would never have to worry. All I have to do is go to school, get good grades, get a good job, find a man, get married, have kids, and retire in my little house, where I’d watch each generation after me do exactly the same thing. There is nothing wrong with that plan, but for reasons I still can’t explain, this plan terrifies me. I realized I couldn’t continue on that track so, with a travel guide in hand, I decided that things were going to change.
“Oh, there’s a river that winds on forever
I’m gonna see where it leads
Oh, there’s a mountain that no man has mounted
I’m gonna stand on the peak”
I hopped on a plane to Dublin, Ireland, and it opened my eyes to experiences I never thought I would ever have. I met a city glowing in the rain, surrounded by nature, and rich in history. My ancestors came from Ireland, and I did everything I could to immerse myself in the Irish culture. I had to learn about them to learn about myself. I traveled through the country meeting people, seeing the sights, and falling in love with a country I had only dreamt of just months before.
“To the ends of the earth would you follow me?
There’s a world that was meant for our eyes to see.”
After my trip to Ireland, I couldn’t stop thinking about all the places I could see. I spent the following year taking every opportunity I had to see the world. I went all over Europe and even into Central and South America. Displacing myself so often led me to experience my lowest lows and highest highs. When everything I was comfortable with was gone, I faced challenges, made hard decisions, and learned to adapt. I am grateful for these times that exposed the real me, and I reacquainted myself with all the values, beliefs, and hopes that thrive inside of me.
“Out there’s a world that calls for me, girl
Headin’ out into the unknown”
There is a plan, but there isn’t THE plan.
When people tell you that you are doing things wrong, that you are ungrateful, or you shouldn’t waste your time, remember that this opinion is according to THEIR plan. We all only have one life to live, and it should be lived to it’s fullest. Set goals, keep dreaming, and strive for the moments that give you the purest form of happiness. For me, I’m happiest testing my own limits: embracing culture shock, participating in somebody else’s rituals, and enriching my soul with new experiences. Today, I’m doing this by working and living in Florida, interning for TWLOHA where I am able to explore the intricacies of the human mind and help break the stereotypes around mental health that hold us down.
I am continuing to head out into the unknown. My plan may have its twists and turns, but I know I’m going in the best direction for me.
- Catie, TWLOHA Summer 2014 Intern