My ten-year high school reunion is taking place this weekend in Canada; I won't be attending as I'm currently travelling through Indonesia.
Tonight and tomorrow, dozens of my former classmates will assemble to share stories of the past ten years and reminisce about our time in high school; I regret that I can’t be there to listen to their stories, to see old friends, to meet their spouses/partners/children. I wish I could be there to share in their accomplishments, because we really have all accomplished a lot.
Ten years ago, I set a goal. I wanted to experience all the world had to offer. But I didn’t just write this goal down in a journal or post it on my wall... No I proclaimed my goal to the world (ok, to the local newspaper). The cut-out of the interview is safely tucked away in a box somewhere in Canada. The interview was for recent highschool graduates asking them what their plans for the future were. Looking back at that interview I realize how carefree I was than. At 17, I proudly proclaimed that I was excited for the unknown, I was ready to live paycheque to paycheque, and experience all the world had to offer.
Little did I know than that I was predicting my own future. Over the last 10 years I have lived in 4 different countries, travelled to 25 different countries, held 15 different jobs, and lived in 10 different cities. My life has been in a word... transient. But through all of it I’ve remained grounded and I’ve learnt a thing or two along the way. In fact, I’ve learned so much more than I ever thought I could.
“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steven FurtickI've learned how to surf, which even though I’ve yet to fully master has become one of my favourite things to do. I've learned how to read the waves. I’ve learned when to paddle really hard and when to just wait it out. I’ve learned that stoke is real and there a few feelings in the world that come close to the rush of catching a wave. I’ve learned that a shared love of the ocean and the waves can spark some of the best friendships.
|Chesterman Beach, Vancouver Island, British Columbia|
I've learned to face my fears, and that the unknown really isn’t that scary.
I've learned Spanish, Finnish, Tagalog, and Bahasa Indonesia, and while I am not completely fluent in any of them (far from it!), I've learned how to communicate in these languages and make myself understood (or atleast get a laugh or two out of the locals).
I've learned to be patient. Very, very patient.
I’ve learned that there is great satisfaction in checking items off one’s bucket list (Seeing the Grand Canyon, Exploring the Temples of Angkor Wat, Zipling in Costa Rica). But I’ve also learned that some of the best travel experiences come from the simplest things, shared with great company.
|Angkor Wat Temples, Siem Reap, Cambodia|
I've learned how to never judge someone by how they look, where they're from, or what they do for a living. I’ve learned that everyone has a story that has got them to this point in life. I've learned that people can be very surprising, and that first impressions can be very misleading.
I've learned how to collect rainwater, how to eat a mangosteen and countless other tropical fruit, how to fix a toilet, how to convert currency, how to shoot a gun, how to dance at an Indonesian wedding, how to eat balut, how to make tortillas and chapati, how to kill a cockroach, and how to drive a motorbike.
I've learned to relax, to laugh more, to calm down, to appreciate all the little things in life, be they sunsets or fresh snow or a compliment from a stranger. I've learned not to always take myself so seriously.
|Halifax, Nova Scotia|
I've learned that no matter where in the world you are, you are never far from someone you know (or someone you who knows someone you know). Take advantage of these friendships and chance encounters.
I’ve learned how to organize a group of students around a cause, how create a national movement, how to lobby the government, and how to fundraise money. I’ve learned that networking really does open up doors and some of the best partnerships are created outside of formal settings.
|Citadel Hill, Halifax, Nova Scotia|
I’ve learned to appreciate my relationships with family and friends more. I've learned who it is that will be in my life forever, no matter the distance. I've learned how to enjoy the company of someone even if I may never see them again, and to laugh like we're old friends, or to kiss like we love.
I've learned how to be alone, and to appreciate that aloneness. I've learned that sometimes, even in a new and exciting place, there is nothing better than staying in and reading a good book.
|Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, British Columbia|
I've learned to be happy with the life I have rather than jealous of the lives of others. I’ve learned that I still have a lot to learn.
|San Juan, La Union, Philippines|
To my fellow classmates, I hope you all take a moment to celebrate where you are in life right now and all the things you’ve learned since we graduated 10 years ago.