My sister’s laugh rings bright through my memories. With one hand on the ottoman and the other on the couch, she would laugh for the sake of laughing. Her baby feet were bouncing on the heinous, green carpet. Behind her were these big, sun-filled windows. On certain days, I would bring her to that spot and ask her to laugh.
I love looking at pictures of when we were young. We lived on an acre of land in Central Washington, surrounded by orchards that produced anything that grew in the area. We had a jungle gym in the yard, and in one picture, my sister was trying to copy what I was doing. I enjoy remembering those days, thinking – that’s us, we did that.
As we got older, we didn’t always get along, when I was ten and she was six, we started wanting to do different things. She wanted to play with me, but I wanted to read books. It wasn’t until after high school that we started having things in common again. We are very different, with very different interests, but growing up together unites us in a unique way. We don’t live nearby, but I’d love to be in the same city with her again. If I could go back, I would want to impart more patience and fortitude to my younger self. I wouldn’t get mad at my sister for only wanting to play with me.
Growing up in a rural place allowed for a lot of free reins. It imparted to me a love for the land and especially that part of the country. At the same time, we were half-an-hour from the nearest city where most of my friends lived. It is hard to hang out with people, plus I was rather shy as a child. In middle school, I was not very outgoing. People would ask, why don’t you smile more?
I’m encouraged that I’ve come to a place where I am not as shy anymore. I go out into the world and do things, not feeling invisible. Being able to move past that and come through that reticence and be more confident feels good.
I moved away for college which was hard at the beginning. It got better over time when I realized I was making friends and maintaining relationships with the people I was afraid to lose touch with. And during college, I chose to do a semester abroad. Most programs were geared towards students traveling in groups. If I went with one of those programs, I would be with the same people I already knew. I wanted real cultural immersion, so I decided to make my own program and travel alone. I researched schools and put my own schedule together. It was terrifying, of course. When I left for the semester, I flew through Toronto, Canada. I wrote in my journal – I’ve made it out of the country, can I go home now?
Once overseas, it sank in that I was going to be alone, in a foreign country for almost four months. I couldn’t rely on anyone to carry me through. Overall, it went smoothly, and that’s cool to look back on. I think growing up removed from the city gave me that desire to explore, as scary as it may feel. I enjoy visiting cities, the constant simulation, new smells, new things to do, and so far outside of my experiences. I love learning about the city and realizing people actually live and grow up there. When I am in a city, I enjoy the busyness, but I still need a quiet place to find peace.
My hope for myself is I will keep persevering, continuing to realize panic is not the only option. I do have control over my response to situations. I don’t have to freak-out, and I can move on. I will not let my life be stuck. I will continue to pursue my interests and the things I love. I will learn and change with each season of life.