If I’m being honest with you, this is a lot harder than I thought it would be.
People told me to pursue my dreams! They didn’t tell me it would be difficult to start them.
People told me that I’m going to have so much fun chasing this desire! They didn’t tell me how hard it is to stop yourself from turning back.
People say they admired my journey and wish they could do the same. In a short time, I’ve learn to respond with, “It’s not easy.”
If you haven’t read it yet, I wrote about finally landing here in New Zealand and my first impressions of the country. It truly is good here and I am enjoying it, but there is a part of me that yearns for the familiar and the comfortable.
I don’t get homesick. I don’t really know why, but homesickness isn’t something I’ve had while on any journey. Perhaps it’s in my nature to feel relaxed in whatever environment I journey. I adapt well. 🙂
However, in the first two weeks here, I’ve told my new acquaintances about my home in Denver, CO. I left behind a city and family that I’ve been working on building for nearly five years. I built a life that I enjoyed with a good paying job and a depth of friendships. Including my long time friend Cameron. It was a good life.
Before I left Denver, I asked for advice from my friends in preparation for my journey. My friends’ responses varied. One stood out and stuck with me above the rest.
I can still hear my friend Shannon say, “Don’t be afraid to come back.”
When I graduated from university, I remember telling myself I needed to do whatever I could to stay away from Lodi, the closest city to the town I grew up in. Moving back to ‘Livable, Lovable Lodi’ was failure to me. If I went back to that city, it would mean to me that I had failed to start my own life. It would mean I went backwards. Backwards to me, was failure. There is literally a song about getting stuck in Lodi.
I’m not much of a fan of failing, going backwards, or being stuck.
If I’m not moving from where I am, changing my surroundings, or progressing my life then I’m failing. Or so I thought. I was a bit hard on myself back then. I still am, just in different ways.
Fast forward ten years, I am sitting with a friend encouraging me to keep the door open to coming back. I didn’t go back after I graduated, it was never the plan. I’ve always planned on moving to the next city, country. I haven’t put much thought about where I’ll go when I’m all set and done.
This time around, going back doesn’t sound so bad.
The pull Denver & company have on my heart isn’t the sole reason this journey is difficult. Some of that fault belongs to my nephew and nieces. Have you seen how gorgeous those children are? They’re the background of my phone and computer. My goodness, they are such a delight! I love those kiddos so much, they’re so special.
I remember when I held my nephew for the first time. I put my ear to his chest and listened to his heart beat. “It’s cool, huh?” My sister said so eloquently. Yes, indeed, it was very cool.
After a two month visit with The Chavez 5, the pull on me to stay in California with my sister and her adorable children was stronger than ever. I love my sister and find it charming each time she comes up with a new plan for me to move back in with her in Sacramento.
“The girls are prettier in California.” she says, trying to convince me. I mean she’s right, they don’t write songs about girls in Nebraska. “California has good weather all year long, you can finally buy that motorcycle you’ve been talking about for so long.” She knows how to present a good offer. Despite all of her best efforts, the strongest argument she’s made to me about moving to CA is her three children.
As I packed my bags during my last night in their home, they played around me. As if distracting me from packing would keep me from leaving, the children played loudly around my belongings. The little boy who’s heartbeat amazed me six years ago, turned to me and asked, “Uncle, do you want to leave, or do you want to play with us?”
Of course I want to play with you.
I have classified myself as a not very emotional person. (Though I cry every time I see the final episode of my favorite show FRIENDS. I mean, the scene where we’re left to wonder if Rachel got off the plane! It felt like the longest two seconds in television history! Gets me every time. Seriously.)
But, when I think about what I left behind, I tear up a little. It’s not because what I have here isn’t great. It’s not that what it back home in Denver or family in California is superior. I simply miss home.
I’m a dreamer. I constantly like to create different dreams to chase. Some of them are actually achievable. I’ve been dreaming of New Zealand for as long as I can remember. When I laid in my bed as a child, reading about the country on the other side of the world, I didn’t see myself leaving behind so much. I didn’t see myself getting messages from friends and family telling me they miss me or that I should come back home.
When I laid in my bed, I only saw myself chasing the dream. I didn’t imagine having to put to use the motto I have written on my Facebook intro: “Courage over comfort.” I didn’t foresee how hard chasing this dream would be.
I like to remind myself: Don’t confuse “difficulty” with “bad”. That would be a mistake. Wine is better when the grape grows in rocky ground. The end result is sweeter because of how hard it is to get through it. When God told the Israelites to take their promised land, they still had to fight many battles for it.
It’s the challenge, rising to the occasion, that makes the reward worth having.
My visa expires in ten months. Right now, I do not know with full certainty where I’ll go next. Maybe another year or three in New Zealand? I hear Sri Lanka is affordable! I have friends in Norway that would be fun to hang around. I’ve been told there’s a room in Greenville, South Carolina open for me.
Wherever my dreams take me next, I’ll have to continually remind myself to choose courage over comfort. But it’s good to know I can always go back. This time, going back won’t feel like failure. When I go back, it’s because I have succeeded.
I’ve achieved the dream.