Yesterday marked the first month that I’ve been abroad here in Sydney. Considering the odd compulsion I’ve had for the last several years to leave the US and go abroad again, I thought it a fitting exercise to try to explain the reasons behind why I’ve chosen to do what I’m doing. It’s easy to say, “I love being outside of my comfort zone,” but what does that really mean? Listing all the reasons would take pages and pages, plus would take forever to fully explain, so I’ve decided to examine and break down the reasons in parts (since I’m still discovering them myself, most of the time). To be completely honest, all the reasons are entirely selfish – the overarching theme is personal enrichment.
And on that note, I’ll explain the first of many parts: Self-Discovery.
Why do I do what I do?
It’s because being outside of the external things that make me “me” allows me to hold more tightly onto the internal things that are me. By removing myself from the comfort of home, the streets I grew up in, the bedroom where I cried over my first broken heart, the sounds and smell of the beach I played on since I was a child, I am forced to more closely examine the things that make up my character. The appreciation of nature’s beauty, the ability to spend hours on end by myself without feeling lonely, the openness to and acceptance of new people, the optimism inherent in the way I look at new opportunities, these are what make me Jenn. Just the same as the moments of crippling self-doubt, the pride that can tip into arrogance, impulsiveness that frequently embarrasses me, the determination that can lead me to steamroll myself and others, and a layer of laziness or apathy that keeps me from picking up the phone or composing the email to stay in better touch.
But by couching these things in the familiar, it’s easy to allow myself to gloss over them, rather than examine them regularly and decide if I want to continue to choose to have these things make up who I am. It keeps me from uncovering new things about myself I didn’t realize we’re there, good or bad. And without being pleasantly surprised or disappointed in these new pieces of myself that I find, they may always remain buried somewhere. Stripping away everything I ever knew is the truest way I’ve ever known to make myself into a person I admire. A way to be able to say that I faced something difficult and different, and that because of that, not in spite of it, I came out the other end a better and more wholly self-aware person than I did going into it.