Before I left to study abroad in Paris, one of my dearest friends, Kortnie, gave me a poem to take with me on my journey. I hung the poem on the wall of my room and before I knew it, my roommate, Saibra, and I began trying to recite it from memory just for fun. My time abroad was incredible and wonderful, and equally challenging, stretching, and eye-opening. I chose to study abroad to find the better parts of myself, to become a better person…and when the difficulties of living in Paris brought out the weaker and less-liked parts of myself, I resorted to this poem on attitude by Charles S. Swindoll. Each person in this video I made has influenced my life tremendously and deserves every happiness this world has to offer. I resolve to never think of our world as ‘too big’, exclusive, or discriminating to the young, and I challenge you to do the same. Enjoy!
As I write this letter, you are flying directly into the future (literally) that you will soon make your own. Though you may feel small now, squished into the confinement of an economy airplane seat for the next ten hours, the hopes I have for you are immense in size. If the men hogging both of your armrests knew that, maybe they would give you more space. Anyways, below is my combination of excitement and advice:
We spend a quarter of our lives in desks learning about the world and its history, which I worry makes you fear that there is just too much knowledge to possibly consume. This is a wonderful thing to overwhelm you. With that, take each educational opportunity in stride, with patience and full of excitement. Focus on the quality of how you receive information, and more importantly—how you experience it.
Age may be a number, but it is also the culmination of a lot of important events in a single lifetime. Presently, you are 20 years old, and by the end of this adventure you will be 21 years young. I hope all that you experience over the next five months restores your innate wonders of the world. They are always within you, even when they may not feel so accessible.
You are no stranger to getting excited and tripping over your own feet, so do your best to slow down and enjoy the moment. If you take a little doozy, have a good laugh at yourself and then jump back up. Double-knot next time.
Ah, pictures. Try to remember that no lens is clearer than the one you already look through. Only you can internalize this experience. This is your own.
And most of all, when it is time to retreat to the States in late December, my hope for you is that the world won’t feel as big and you won’t feel as small. Be brave and take up space. This world has plenty of room for you.