Ready for Take Off

Up and away...

It’s been 6 months since I was accepted into Remote Year and 2 months since I left my nurse practitioner position and studio apartment in NYC.  I’ve had a lot of time to celebrate, think, prepare, worry, celebrate, say goodbyes, over think, plan, over think some more, and say even more goodbyes, yet it still doesn’t feel real.  As I write, I’m aboard a plane from Boston to San Francisco, which will then take me to Hong Kong, Singapore, and ultimately Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia where I will join 64 strangers and 2 program leaders to embark on what will ultimately be the yearlong adventure of a lifetime.  I get the sense that once I land in Kuala Lumpur that ‘what the F*** am I about to do!?’ feeling will wash over me and minor panic attacks will temporarily set in.  A year of around the world travel SOUNDS glamorous, but will undoubtedly be fraught with obstacles, challenges, and probably even some disappointments.  I fear financial instability and other entrepreneurial struggles and loneliness as I work to establish meaningful connections with the new people in my life while missing those I love at home who are 13+ time zones away.  And I wonder if I will live up to the expectations of those in the Remote Year Program- what the hell makes me so unique that I was selected from a pool of SO MANY applicants?  There were a lot of journaling, running and yoga sessions to work through these reservations…

But, put into perspective of the current world climate (political, environmental and otherwise), I am tremendously fortunate.  My worries seem gravely insignificant compared to those under attack in my home country and around the world.  Simultaneously I feel compassion and fury for everyone affected by the executive order this past week- those I know personally and love dearly, those I will never meet and those I was about to meet (like the Iranian man with dual citizenship who had to turn around at the San Francisco airport and withdraw from my Remote Year program Friday night when his lawyer told him he may not be let back into the country). 

One thing travel has gifted me is an appreciation for diversity and the value of inclusiveness (Mom and Dad, you deserve some credit for that too!).  It helped me understand that bridges can be built and connections forged among the unlikeliest of individuals or groups because no matter what our beliefs, we are all fundamentally human with the same basic needs. So in light of the events over the last week, the goals of my year-long experience have shifted from intentions that were largely personal (like improving my Spanish to a fluent level just so I can say I’m bi-lingual and boost my resume or running a few international marathons to add more medals to MY collection) to ones that are more community focused (like becoming fluent in Spanish so I can communicate and better understand a much broader range of cultures or running a few international races to authentically connect with people in another country).  These are small and seemingly insignificant examples (I’m still planning!), but it’s amazing how a simple shift in focus can completely change the outcome of an experience.  Although personal and professional growth are inevitable on such a journey, ultimately I hope that my fellow travelers and I can build bridges, deeply immerse in 12 other cultures and return home in 2018 having helped others understand that, just as diversity is the strength of an ecosystem, diversity is also the strength of a nation. 

Thank you to all that threw me parties, made videos, sent cards, gifts and messages with well wishes.  I love and will miss you all and if you haven’t already, please consider a visit J.  If that doesn’t work- text, call, email and Skype often!  Here we goooooooo!