Thursday, July 1, 2010

HOO BOY, it's been a while. Not that I've been wanting for internet access or things to do. I've been plugged in this entire time and busier than all hell (mostly). I've had no problem ignoring my blog simply because I write in a journal every day so it's not like my memories will be lost. They are documented in flurry of giantic Pages documents and photos on my computer. This blog was simply a way to keep people up-to-date with my travels and pictures but facebook pretty much takes care of that completely. Damn you, facebook, for ensnaring my life and creativity!

I am sitting in my room currently, residing in freaking BEIJING, CHINA, of all places. I have finished my thesis and all of my work related to grad school, so I simply get to relax and enjoy the city for the next 2 weeks. The previous two sentences are so improbable that I've been trying to break them down in my head for a while. Pretty much this whole trip, really.

It would make the most sense to address this grad school thing. It's been a huge goal of mine for a couple of years, something I've been trying to accomplish for the same amount of time. I experienced a hell of a lot of disappointment and obstacles along the way but I completely understand that I had to experience all that bullshit, all the sadness and the frustration, because I got to do this and this was amazing. Truly amazing. For the first time in my life, I am living completely without regret. I know how heavily regret and fear weighed me down before and to anyone who knows the familiar claustrophobia and futility that I felt for so long, I urge you to follow your dreams. Persistence pays off and I don't care how cliche it sounds, but I am now a living example of that. Every fuck up, every bump in the road that felt like a mountain, every time my heart got broken led me exactly here. Without those experiences, who knows where I would have ended up?

For the longest time, my world was defined by a list of failures and missed opportunities. I was terrified that my life had peaked at 17 and I was doomed to spend the rest of my existence dreaming of what could and should have been. What I realize now is that I made all the right choices because of the year I just experienced. They may have felt and seemed wrong at the time, but if those opportunities had worked out in another way, my life would have ended up completely differently, most likely considerably less inspiring. I see people settled into lives they never wanted and I'm so glad that that's not me. I got exactly what I wanted and everything I could have possibly hoped and dreamed for and I'm only 26. I'm just getting started.

Life is exactly what you make of it and it's never too late to hope and dream anew. I will constantly speak of that message for the rest of my years because it kills me to see people stuck in lives they can't stand when it all comes down to a matter of choice. Everything in life comes down to a choice and yes, inaction is a choice in itself. I proved that for a long time. I wasn't happy by any means, but I chose to remain where I was and it killed me for the longest time. However, dreams do come true and this whole experience has been just that and will ironically feel just like a dream when it's all said and done, I'm sure. No matter what happens when I finish, if it takes forever to find a job, if I get stuck in Buffalo for a while, if anything else my former self would have dreaded ends up happening, I know that it was all worth it. To live without regret or fear while striving to be completely happy is exactly what we're meant to do here. I don't know anyone who could say otherwise and the fact that I'm finally at such a liberating stage at my life is truly a blessing.

The mere fact that I started grad school is insane. That was the goal I had my eye on for a while. Not finishing. My sight was focused on just getting in. I've spent the year trying to think of what I want next because desire and perseverance worked so well before. So now, having finished grad school, I'm left to ponder my next step. Honestly, I'm not sure what it is that I want simply because this was so amazing that I'm okay with a basic existence now. A job that I enjoy and that helps me to live comfortably while positively affecting the world and a boyfriend who rocks my socks off are the next logical steps and things that would be nice, of course, but I'm okay if it takes me a while to find both. My life has been filled with some of the most amazing experiences anyone could have asked for and so many of them happened in the past year alone.

As a fun way to finish this off, I thought I'd list one of the many cool things in each city I've done:

I walked over London Bridge which was incredibly anticlimactic compared to Tower Bridge in London.
I climbed to the top of Arthur's Seat for an absolutely breathtaking view of Edinburgh.
I had Tibetan food in Amsterdam in a restaurant that was filled with incense and pictures of the Dalai Lama.
I ice skated on a canal in Leiden.
I saw the International Court of Justice in the Hague.
I drooled over Belgian Waffels in Brussels.
I ran around in dress shoes trying to get to all the clock towers in Bruges.
I got to re-experience and fall in love with the Roman Forum again in Rome.
I got to visit the UN in Vienna.
I got into a snowball fight in Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic.
I drank a pint of Guinness at the very top of the Guinness Storehouse while overlooking Dublin.
I kissed the Blarney Stone.
I stubbed my toe running away from a wave at Giant's Causeway.
I had Tim Horton's in Belfast.
I went to a Chocolate Festival in Geneva.
I went wine-tasting in the South of France.
I traveled between three countries all to pet a Saint Bernard dog in Switzerland.
I went to Bern three times randomly, once for the Botanical Gardens and two times for my visa.
I sat along the river while watching the Eiffel Tower at night in Paris.
I stared through the holes in the Berlin Wall in Berlin.
I saw a parrot eat a piece of toast with his foot in Barcelona.
I experienced an incredible amount of history, beauty and hills with amazing views in Athens.
I swam naked in the Aegean near the Temple of Poseidon in Greece.
I ziplined down from the Great Wall outside of Beijing.

I've still got two crazy weeks left here in China so I'm sure I'll only be adding to this list. I love my life :)

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