A few weeks back, I got lost in the black hole of the internet and came across a thread. Someone was asking people to name one thing that someone said to you that changed your life.
It’s a big question. Lots of people responded with proposals or finding out they were having a child. If I ever experience those things, I might feel the same way. But as soon as I heard the question, I instantly knew what my answer was.
When I was 17, my high school was planning a trip to Kenya. And I wanted to go. Well… I thought I wanted to go. At the time, it was one of the biggest decisions that I had ever made. I over thought it all. My parents weren’t exactly in full support of me going, but at the end of the day, it was my decision to make.
So, one night I was at the horse barn to go riding. And I was talking with someone else while we were grooming the horses. I remember telling her about the trip, and how excited she was. How she thought it was just the best opportunity. And I remember telling her that yeah, it was great and exciting and everything… but it’s so far away.
She asked me why else I shouldn’t go, what else I was afraid of. The only thing I could come up with was “It’s just SO far.” She looked at me, and then went back to grooming the horse. All she said was “Well, maybe the world isn’t as big as you think.”
In that moment, I decided to go. My parent’s hesitation didn’t matter anymore. I was going. Because… well, how would I know if the world was that big if I didn’t go?
That first trip to Kenya led to another trip 6 months later, and eventually, applying to my undergrad program, which led to my first trip to Nepal and well, led to me being here.
Because when I was in Kenya, those words were stuck in my head. “Maybe the world isn’t as big as you think”
And, as I learned very quickly, the world was not nearly as big as I thought. The people I met in Kenya taught me a Swahili phrase “Tuko Pamoja” meaning “We are together”. No mountains or oceans can truly separate us.
I have carried this phrase with me as I’ve moved through other experiences.
And, over the last 6 years. I’ve learned that my friend was right. The world isn’t nearly as big as I once thought. The friends I’ve made along the way, of all cultures and backgrounds, living all over the world, are proof of that.
While I rarely speak to this person anymore, those few words that she said that winter night still resonate.
And that changed my life.