My truth is that there are a lot of things you can say to convince yourself and other people of who you are. You can fill your lungs with what you think they want to hear. But if you do that, nothing comes back to you. You are left exasperated. Letting go isn’t comfortable, since these things become bittersweet defenses to things you feel you can’t change. In a new country, with these new people, you’ll want to hold onto these defenses more than ever. You’ll feel small at times and out of control.

I used to criticize myself for holding on so tightly. You’ll see why it had to be that way. You were small so you could grow. What’s hard about being told to grow is wanting it so badly. Just know, that whatever you’re feeling is okay. My advice is to try and listen before you think of what to say. Forgive yourself when you don’t. Mind the gap that carries all that space between where you are and where you want to be. Be grateful. There is something in you that begs for this. And now you are being given an opportunity to learn some humbling, beautiful, extraordinary lessons.

There are times, often times, when I feel like that sixteen-year-old girl in another country, (Kenya) for the first time.   Right now I’m sitting in an empty pink bedroom, in a creaky green house, in the colorful city of Valparaíso, Chile. There is no way I could have prepared myself for how uncomfortable I am. But I laugh about it. I’m constantly falling in love with this strange place. In large part because of my training, I am patient. I listen like my life depends on it. I regard people as leaders. I regard myself as a leader. My story rests somewhere like inspiration. When parts of my insecurity catch me, I am patient again.

Just remember, despite how it might feel, you’re the one who asked for this. Your future self will look back and regard you as a teacher.