Leaving LAX

In 2012, I decided I was going to pack my bags and drive 1,000 miles south with my dad to Orange County, California. I was eighteen years old, and frankly, I was more afraid of what would become of me if I stayed than I ever was of leaving. Though I would tell people I simply wanted to live somewhere with sun, I was really on the hunt for somewhere completely and utterly new. At the close of my senior year, I was desperately in need of a place where no one could claim to know who I was or have any expectations of who I should be. University offered me a chance to go anywhere I wanted, to be anything I wanted. Thankfully, I was born into a family that has always supported, and even pushed, me to do things outside of my comfort zone. Moving to Orange County, and jumping feet first into a new social and physical environment all on my own, forced me to address some of my biggest fears, flaws and daily functions that were causing me to be unhappy. I attribute much of my recent personal progress to the irreplaceable group of friends I have made, and the Lameijer family, who have been most welcoming to me. I could never have anticipated the amount of love I have generated for these would-be strangers in the last three years. They have become my home away from home, and continue to be something I look forward to coming back to at the beginning of each school year. If life is but a sum of memories, then the people with whom you choose to share those memories can hardly be treated with irrelevance.

Today, I am off to Bangkok, Thailand, to live and study and party for the spring semester. Comparatively to my journey down to SoCal, my trip to Thailand is coming at a time that seems to interrupt the comfortable life with which I have become so familiar. I am not leaving because I am desperate for something new or because I am unhappy in my current situation; rather, this time, I am leaving on somewhat of a whim, with only the hope that I will be able to further discover and test what kind of person I want to be. Of course, I also hope to sunbathe on stunning beaches and eat delicious Thai food.

I once read that you cannot truly love another until you love yourself, yet my experience has come to support just the opposite. Whether you love yourself or not, you may find that your capacity to generate love for others is almost effortlessly multiplied and surprisingly unfettered. Furthermore, it seems to me that the more time I spent developing these friendships, the better I felt about myself. I am excited, nervous, and a little afraid to go to Thailand by myself, but I will be back soon enough, and most likely, sooner than I will come to wish. I hope to address some of my fears, flaws and daily functions once again, and see what happens when I put to test my own self-reliance and self-confidence while abroad.


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