Reflections on 2015

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2015 has been a year of transitions. I feel as though I lived two different lives this year– one in Germany and one in America. Sometimes I can’t even believe my experiences in Heidelberg and Hildesheim happened this year. Everything about my life there was so drastically different than my life now, it’s hard to integrate the two. Change and transitions are good, but hard. It’s been a long readjustment process, with more than a few road bumps along the way. I am still processing my time abroad. Somedays I miss Germany more than I can bear, and other days I can’t imagine being anywhere else in the world but Pepperdine. That’s the thing about change: it’s unpredictable. I’m not sure how my heart will feel in the future. But in the midst of all this transition, I’ve learned some valuable lessons about life and myself that will stick with me forever. Here are a few if you’d like to read:

1. It’s okay to be sad. I used to tell myself, “Don’t be sad because there are people in this world who have it so much worse!” I thought I was being bratty for feeling sad. But sadness is sadness, so matter the reason. There is no gradient, it can’t be compared. It is perfectly normal to miss Germany (or whatever) and mourn the loss of something you once had. It will pass.

2. It only takes a few close friends. For some reason, I grew up thinking I had to a have a large group of friends to feel genuinely happy and loved. I tried to please everyone and get to know a million people. But then I realized that is just not realistic. It only takes a few close friends to feel valued and loved. I would rather invest deeply in a few select people than spread myself too thin and not reap the rewards.

3. You’re not supposed to know the future. Why do I so easily fall into the trap of thinking I have to have the future figured out? It’s supposed to be unknown. Otherwise it wouldn’t be the future! Duh Micah. This year I am trying to embrace the uncertainty and let it excite me instead of terrify or frustrate me!

4. Patience is hard. Waiting is hard. Patience doesn’t come easily to me. I wish my desires were granted right now. But I know everything happens in its time, not a moment before. I am trying to accept that truth!

5. I am enough. No one expects me to be more than I am. Sometimes I think I’m lacking something, but that is not true. I was created perfectly. Earlier this year, I designated the word Gentle as my “Word of the Year.” I have not always been gentle with myself or others this year, but I am trying!

Question of the Day
What are a few lessons you’ve learned or reflections you’ve had about 2015?

Lessons Learned From Living Out Of A Suitcase

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I’ve been living out of a suitcase for the past eleven months. Sure, I unpacked my things into my closet, but I only have 50 lbs. of material possessions to my name. I’ve never been a minimalist by any means, in fact, I love shopping and collecting special things here and there. So when I had to narrow down my wardrobe into a tiny suitcase in preparation for my year abroad, I was surprised by just how much stuff I had collected over the years. How on earth would I choose what stays and what goes? I felt as though I needed everything, that I just couldn’t live without those sparkly purple pumps or that extra purse! But slowly, I’ve come to love having a smaller wardrobe and fewer possessions, and am actually dreading facing my closet at home in California. I like being able to pack up and take off without a second thought! So, here are three things I’ve concluded about my year living out of a suitcase that might inspire you to pare down a bit as well:
1. Stuff can weigh you down- I often end up stressing about how to fit everything in my suitcase, when if I was honest with myself, I know I won’t wear half the stuff anyways. I used to pack three outfits for a one day trip- so unnecessary. Now I try and only bring the essentials. I ask myself “Can I live without this?” before packing anything, and the answer is usually yes.
2. The less decisions, the better- Having too many clothes to choose from in the morning can lead to decision fatigue. We already have to make so many tiny decisions every day, might as well simplify your life and only have two shirts to decide between instead of seven. I promise, you will feel less overwhelmed and less stressed overall.
3. Be selective- This post is not to say stuff is bad. I LOVE stuff! It reminds us of people, places, or times in our lives. It is functional and beautiful. But wouldn’t you rather have less stuff that really means something to you than more stuff that is just taking up space? Be selective in what you purchase, so it holds value for years to come.
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Hope you enjoyed this little post friends!
Question of the day
Do you struggle with over-packing? Or is it easy for you to pare down?

My Answer to THE Question

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When you decide to move abroad for any amount of time, you will undoubtedly be asked the question: “Why do you like living abroad?” A perfectly reasonable question to a girl who uprooted her cushy life to move to the other side of the globe. And while my desire to improve my German skills is a perfectly valid answer, it can feel a bit shallow and nondescript. It never fully describes my reasons and motives for choosing this lifestyle. It takes more than a language to keep this girl happy!

So, here are a five reasons that answer in more detail exactly why I like living abroad. If you are an expat as well, perhaps you can relate to and even use some of these reasons in your next dinner party conversation!

1. You Live Outside Your Comfort Zone- Nothing forces you to live in the moment more than stepping outside your comfort zone.  I am someone who tends to stubbornly stay inside her comfort zone, so expat life has been a challenging yet rewarding experience! Of course, life abroad is still filled with the daily nine to five routine, but every aspect of my routine here stretches me in some new way. Mundane tasks like grocery shopping or talking to my neighbors quickly become an adventure, filled with obstacles, tests, and triumphs. When I am in new situations or surroundings, I become more aware of the details and drink in each moment more deeply.

2. You Make Unexpected Friends- Yesterday I went to a movie with five other people, all from vastly different backgrounds and walks of life. Daily I am surrounded by people with different languages, nationalities, and experiences from my own. You would not believe some of the stories I’ve heard, and the incredible people I’ve met. Of course I miss my friends and family back home, but I’m confident the relationships I’ve formed here unique and irreplaceable. I will cherish them always.
3. There’s Never a Dull Moment- I learned what is, in my opinion, one of the most important life lessons: How to laugh at yourself. I have found myself in more awkward and hilarious situations abroad due to cultural misunderstandings, than in the previous 19 years combined! I’ve learned not to take life, or myself, too seriously. I used to plan out every little detail of my life in advance, worrying and stressing over the minutia. But now I eagerly embrace the unknown, which is good, because now I can hop on a train bound for a foreign city, with little more than a few days notice! Life abroad is a lot of things, but dull is not one of them.

4. You Appreciate Home That Much More- You never know a good thing till it’s gone, right? Well, that statement is partially true in my case. I’ve always know I come from a good home, but I didn’t realize just how great it was until I moved abroad. My home equipped me with the tools I need to thrive, and provided the spring board that launched me into the world. But I couldn’t have realized that truth until I was fully launched. And although homesickness is no joke, and you might feel left out or guilty at times, you quickly realize the relationships that really matter are the ones that will last. When I go home in August, I will appreciate everything and everyone in my life a million times more than if I’d never left at all.

5. You Grow and Change in Countless Ways- Personal growth and transformation occurs no matter where you live, but I’ve noticed it is much more tangible and observable when abroad. I can literally see myself gaining confidence with each passing day. I have trips to far off countries, experiences like skydiving in Prague, and souvenirs like holy water from the Vatican to prove my new found sense of adventure. I’ve made new friends with a vast variety of people, and feel completely comfortable asking someone to meet for coffee- something I would have been too scared to do this time last year. The changes in scenery and culture that accompany a move abroad are nothing compared to the changes I’ve witnessed in myself. And I will be forever grateful.

Chances are, you won’t be able to answer in this much detail the next time someone asks you why you like living abroad at a dinner party. They’ll probably excuse themselves to the ‘bathroom’ before you reach point number two. But if you know why you love expat life, they will take notice. Some of your love is bound to rub off on them, and if you’re lucky, they might decide to go home, pack their suitcases, and join you!

Thanks for reading friends, have a good one.
P.s. I originally wrote this post as a guest blogger for this blog. Check it out if you’d like!