Three days ago I had to say goodbye to one of the best years of my life. It was a little sad, and a little exciting. The biggest part of 2013 had to be YES and all that was applying and getting accepted by the scholarship, and then preparing and eventually moving across the world to South Africa. But 2013 was also full of a lot of really great small things. When I think about this last year I have countless memories that bring me joy. As I look back I see all the crazy adventures, I see car windows rolled down, bike rides, long talks and some soul-searching. There where many meals shared with friends( including my favorites Tuesday lunches with Abi) and Thursday nights spent watching Scandal with my parents. I learned how to drive, I took lots of plane trips. I shed a few tears, but shared much more smiles. There were new friends made and memories made with the friends who have been there forever. Endless new things were tried, and most of all when I look back I see a whole lot of laughter. This year has been great and I could not be more grateful for all that it has brought with it. It was a big year, probably the biggest of my life. So to celebrate the year I would like to share the ten biggest things I have learned in the last twelve months
1. Loving people is a choice.
2. Being taken out of your comfort zone is a hard thing to do, but it’s the only way you can truly grow.
3. Every storm will pass. Sometimes things seem like the end of the world but they’re not, life goes on.
4. “Found out life was complicated, more grey than black and white” If I can borrow those words from Ben Rector. The world is complicated, there are rarely easy solutions. This was a hard one for me because I want to solve every problem and I want to solve it fast.
5.Listening is a lot better way to show love than talking. (this is still a daily struggle)
6. Most of the time when you’re scared of something, it’s because you don’t understand it.
7. The best people are the ones who can constantly make you laugh.
8. It’s ok to admit your weakness.
9.Don’t take for granted the friends who have always been there.
and the biggest thing I learned in 2013 was…
10.That the best things happen when you take risks! The thing that always keeps me from taking risks is fear, whether it be fear of failure or rejection, it always comes back to fear, but by far the best things that happened to me this year were all because I pushed aside fear and took risks.
That includes applying to the YES Abroad program. This program has been one of the best experiences of my life. A year ago I could not have imagined that this would be my life today. I am amazed and thankful every day for this opportunity. So I strongly encourage anyone who would be even remotely interested to fill out the application for the program to do so. It can be found here, there is a week left to turn it in. Also if you aren’t a high school student I strongly urge you to think about hosting a YES student. Both are great chances to get to understand other cultures and people, and get a chance to learn a bit more about another part of the world! So here’s to the new adventures, further learning, and hopefully more laughter that awaits in 2014. I have a feeling it’s going to be a great year!