What a ride, eh?
We started this journey about a year ago. We knew that a year would go by fast, but who knew we could cram so much into it? I look at our Instagrams and pictures we’re tagged in together on Facebook, and I can’t help but be amazed. We have done so much. And there is no way that I could have gone on this journey without you. I’m so lucky to have been placed in the Darien group of Remote Year – a weird special group, but, now, a family.
Because the end of the year has passed and because I’m feeling all sorts of sappy, what better place to put that emotional energy than on the internet? Forever? That’s right, there is no better place. Bring on the feels.
I am incredibly in awe of these humans that have become some of my closest friends – and, dare I say, truly a modern version of family. What’s cooler than traveling the world for a year with about 70 random people? Traveling the world for a year with about 70 random, talented, creative, loving, sharing, grateful, and supportive people. I am so so thankful to be a Darien. This is especially true as I look over our most recent posts and notes to each other – both private and public.
That said, before I get into my own thoughts, I want to highlight some of the beautiful goodbyes that some of my friends have created and shared for us:
Eddie made a video that still makes me tear up every time I watch it. It’s not uploaded yet, but I’ll update that link when it is. There’s a private link floating around, but I want you to see it when he’s ready to share it with the world.
Chris also made a video. It’s a perfect tribute to the beautiful faces and spirit of this group.
Rob created a montage of our smiles. Which is exactly how I want to remember us forever.
Molly wrote an incredible piece about the impact we’ve made on each other and on herself<3
Kelly put together a one-second-a-day video about her year. It contains the most exciting and some more “normal life” moments, which is a perfect reminder that this was still a year, even if it was full of adventures.
Now that you’ve seen all that, I’ll try my best to live up to my family’s greatness with these emotional and humble words:
Never in my life did I dream that I could love so many people. We became like a family, we fought and annoyed each other, but – boy – how I loved you. I’m so grateful for the love you gave me in return and all of the memories we made. And all the things you taught me…
- My Cordoba Roommate taught me the importance of trying new things – and working hard at them. He taught me to protect myself in dangerous situations. He led a Startup Weekend and encouraged our group to get creative and create and not procrastinate. He also pushed us to create a website and fundraising model for an incredible monkey/animal sanctuary in Argentina. My roommate is one of my role models – and he’s still traveling through South America, so he’s a travel role model too. I am so excited to have his advice and his friendship.
- My Lisbon Roommate taught me to be unapologetic about what I want and my goals. She has created a life for herself that is incredibly impressive. When I quit my job, she came out for a happy hour drink with me and spent hours giving advice and listening. I am so thankful for that time. She also showed me vulnerability, which was truly valuable, as – before those moments – I thought I had to be strong all the time to learn from her, but she showed that you are made stronger by embracing your emotions. I can’t wait to see her on the road again.
- My sushi date taught me to stay curious. We had some great conversations because of his openness and willingness to ask and answer nearly any question. I’ll miss trying all the sushi – especially trying to avoid all the ones with cream cheese, why is that a thing? I’m definitely looking forward to future sushi dinners and more long conversations. Maybe in Asia next time?
- One of my first male friends on the trip taught me to have confidence in myself and my views. He is equal parts one of my favorite people and one of the most frustrating people I met. We pushed each other outside of our comfort zones at times. We critiqued each other and held each other to higher expectations, as the best brothers and sisters do. And I’m hopeful that we will continue to be that person in our lives – constantly pushing to be the best version of ourselves.
- When I was having a rough time as I was quitting my job and dealing with a lot of emotional baggage, one of my lady friends grabbed breakfast with me. The conversation we had was equally uplifting and a kick in the pants. She taught me to be honest with myself and to be honest with others, with a good intent. I am well known for beating around the bush (or being passive aggressive), but she pushed me to break that habit. I am so excited to visit her in her new life.
- The guy who came a day late to the party taught me unconditional friendship and support. He took the time to get to know almost everyone in the group – whether through side trips or meals out. And he reached out to them often and tried to take care of them or support them in any way. We lived together in Morocco, and I had a tough day at work one day. When he got home, he noticed and poured a glass of wine and found a macaron and set them on the table beside me. And he would do things like that for any of his friends. I’m lucky that he’s going to be living near me most of the next few months, so I don’t have to say a real goodbye just yet.
- The baby of the trip (although, only three weeks younger than me) taught me to put my heart into my work and to not be afraid of the outcome. His creative mind continuously blows me away. His passion for life inspires me. And I wish that we could have spent more time having life-impacting conversations, because those we did have were some of my favorites. I’m incredibly confident saying that he will stay part of my life in the future – our creative souls will reunite.
- The one who trusts me and let me into his life taught me about the most frustrating parts of myself – and helped me work through them. We both had a lot to deal with on this year abroad, but we were able to face most of it together. And I’ll forever be amazed that we found each other in those first few days – because we are so alike and so good at supporting and encouraging each other, but there is no other scenario in my life where I could see myself meeting him. In typical fashion for us, we already have plans to eat a wide variety of foods this summer and a whole list of places to visit. And I can’t wait to get started!
- My Belgrade Roommates taught me to take care of myself. They are two of my favorite women in this world. They stand up for and believe in themselves. They are also hilarious and beautiful. I want to have reunions with them every year forever, for the comedy value and the friendship. Whenever I had a problem, I would talk to them about it. When no one else seemed to understand, they would talk it through anyway. And if we couldn’t solve it with advice or quotes, we could find some kind of inspiration in a cup of ice cream or a glass of wine. BBs 4Ever.
- My ladies from day one were continuously the girls I turned to for a good night – out or in. We found the best places to eat food and go out at night. We can talk about basically anything – the good, the bad, and the messy. We brought each other things from home – or more accurately, had our friends and family bring things from home. We spent hours together in the workspace. And we created that incredible yearbook. With the help of others. But I’m glad that we got to work on something together before we went our separate ways. See you this summer <3
- A number of great humans (including the remaining Husinecka boys, my two bald friends, the videographer, the comp-sci nerds, the New Zealand girl, and my moms) taught me to be true to myself. They are all doing incredible things with their lives. From photography to creating companies to pushing others to see the best parts of life, they are all doing their part to make this world a little better. And I look forward to crossing paths with them again.
- Everyone in the Darien family taught me to embrace the mess and the level three fun. It wasn’t always easy. But it was an incredible adventure and a surreal year. Thank you for being part of my life and letting me into each of yours.
I’m back in the US now. When I am served something I didn’t order at a restaurant, I can speak up about it and be confident in my response. When I want to finish eating in a twenty minute window, I have options. I don’t have to ask for the check when I’m done. Target, Chipotle, and Convenience Stores make my life so much simpler and less stressful. But no one that I’ve talked to about this year seems to understand the impact that it made on my life. It wasn’t just a year of travel. It wasn’t just a year of new food, pictures, and friends. And it definitely wasn’t a gap in my life. This was a beginning of a new chapter of my life. So, even though it has ended, it was the end of the beginning. And the rest of the chapter is unwritten and unknown right now, but it is guaranteed to be an even bigger adventure – and I can’t wait to be part of this family for the rest of my life. We’ve got great things in our futures, Darien! <3