Being thankful on my 25th Birthday

Today is my 25th birthday.  And I’m in Rome, I don’t think I can plausibly ask for anything better. My plans for the day involve resting, because I am somewhat sick, and then going to get pizza and gelato with a bunch of my friends that I’ve made over the last two months.  I’m also going to have a couple of beers as I wander the streets, something that I won’t be able to do once I get back to the US.

Today I think about all of the wonderful things that I have to be thankful for. I have family and friends who care about me, I have a masters degree, my health, I have had the opportunity to travel all over the world.  I am so blessed.  In my lifetime I have been to 15 countries (not including the US)!  That is amazing!  In other words, I have so many things to be thankful for.

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And still, I find myself freaking out, for lack of a better term.  The past few weeks have been hectic.  I know I will be back in the US and I am trying to find a job, not an easy thing to do when a) you’re a teacher and the school year has already started and b) you are currently in Rome.  I have literally applied to dozens of jobs in the last few weeks and have been rejected by all of them.  In both Florida and Virginia I have applied for teaching jobs, non-education jobs, waitressing jobs, hotel jobs, and a plethora of others.

It’s funny, when you’re traveling or living abroad, you are so confident, you can take on the world.  Or at least thats how I feel.  But when I think about going home, and getting a job, determining where I want to live, and trying to figure out how I’m actually going to make a decent amount of money, and have enough time to travel, I turn into a ball of hysterics.  Literally, my mom the other day told me to ‘slow my roll’, which is funny in hindsight but at the time it made me even angrier.

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I’m not exactly sure how I let myself get to this point.  I’ve traveled the world alone!  I finished my Masters degree when I was 23!  I have a bunch of awesome qualities, why am I a nervous wreck when it comes to finding a job and growing up?  I would like to think (or hope) that other people feel the same way.  Sometimes facebook can be an enemy, I look at my friends from high school and college who have great jobs and have their lives ‘together’ and I think, if they can do it, what is the matter with me?

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I went to Belgium last weekend with my best friend from college.  She is teaching abroad in Spain, and I’m in Rome, so we decided to meet up.  I told her about how down I was about not being able to find a job, and being nervous about not having my life together.  Which she responds by saying, ‘Kelly, everything happens for a reason.  I know its cheesy, but its true (she has said this multiple time over our four year friendship, and I agree with her 100%). Look at what you’re doing, and what you’ve done, you’re traveling the world, people would love to be able to do what you’re doing.’  And you know, she’s right.

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I don’t have a job yet because the right one hasn’t come along.  So its taken me a bit more time to get into my career, but I have experiences that not a lot of people have.  And I am so thankful.  I know not everyone has traveled the world, but everyone has amazing and unique experiences that have led them to where they are today.  Instead of comparing ourselves to each other, I think we need to be thankful for everything that has happened in our lives.  Because it’s amazing.

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I leave Rome on Sunday and arrive back in the US on Monday.  I’m still not exactly sure what I’m going to be doing when I get back, but I’ve chosen not to worry about it, just give it my best and see what happens.

So, in honor of my birthday, I wanted to share with you all a journal post that I wrote a few weeks back.  It doesn’t have too much to do with traveling, more about other parts of my life.  But I think, or hope, you will read it and get to know more about me, and also, think about your own life, and all the little things you have to be thankful for.  Write a journal entry.  Often times I think we think about the big things we are thankful for and forget about the little things.  After writing this blog post, and this journal entry, I feel a lot of things, but the main thing I feel?  Thankful.

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‘’I was laying out today by my host mom’s pool when I realized something.  I am going to be 25 in less than two months.  I’m amazed that I am going to be 25, and find myself repeating some of the phrases that I’ve heard so often from people who are older than me, time flies, I can’t believe I’m so old, ect.  But the part that really makes me think is the fact that anywhere from 1/3 to 1/4 of my life is over.  And that is a pretty crazy idea when you think about it.

So I spent a couple of hours thinking about my life thus far.  And I discovered something that I have most of the time, throughout my life, taken for granted: I have lived a wonderful life.  The funny thing is I don’t have a good memory, at all, unless someone reminds me of something, or shows me a picture I can’t remember certain things.  But as I was laying out, flashbacks just rolled through my head.

I remember summer time when I was a kid.  My Mom left me and my sister money on the counter for pizza.  Megs and I would ride our bikes to the pool for morning swim practice, and then stay at the pool playing all day long, ordering pizza for lunch, and making our way home when Mom came home from work.  Saturdays were filled with swim meets and fun dip, pixie sticks, coca-cola, doughnuts, and hot dogs, feeling cool because our Mom ran the swim team.  It was friends and towels and wet clothes.  It was this feeling of endlessness and happiness.  But not because we knew what being happy was, we just were, plain and simple.

I remember soccer games, and orange slices, water balls, and running through the tunnel.  I remember being best on the team every year until I was 12.  The autumn leaves and the fall air that smelled like crisp apples and pine, fresh air, and hope.

Christmas at Moo’s and Poppy’s.  The big fireplace lit up, the big old house that was like a mysterious old friend, with new things to be discovered every time I arrived, but felt like a warm hug.  My grandmother fixing Christmas morning brunch, my uncle, alive, smiling, up in the daylight of those big floor to ceiling windows that looked out over the woods.  People that I loved with everything that I had around me, loving me.

Trips to the beach house, my Mom waking me up before dawn to see the sunrise.  Walking sleepily in my glasses, sand between my toes, bundled up in a jacket, on the lifeguard stand with my mom and sister, my two best friends.  Reading the footprint poem in Smokey’s restaurant before ordering chicken fingers, french fries, and the best hush puppies in the world, while playing trivia.

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Its the little things, going to church on Saturday nights, then to the dollar store, then to Victors to eat pizza.  The cinnamon smelling stars we made with church choir for Christmas, and the halloween parties and musicals.  Oranges with cloves stuck inside, handmade Christmas ornaments.  Going around the table and telling everyone what we were thankful for. Mom driving through magical light displays.  Always love, so much love.

Growing up. Marching band practice, and being in high school.  Football games and band competitions, having friends.  Being part of something bigger.  School, and being in love with classes and teachers and the hallways.  Playing sports on fields and in pools and on tracks.

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Starbucks, and concerts, aim messaging and myspace. Eating ice cream, and driving a car.  Visiting my horse everyday after school.

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Taking a trip to Italy and Greece and Turkey that changed my life.  Discovering I have a passion for traveling.

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Going to college and being scared.  Morning time gym routine, sitting in D2 and watching snow fall gently on campus before winter break.  The color of the leaves in fall, walking to class across the drill field.  Football games, and yelling, pulling my keys out, driving a lot because I don’t like to drink.  Discussions on literature that I love but am too shy to take part in.  Wine night and greys anatomy.

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Heartbreak.  Good friendships, being sad, but also realizing that life is amazing.  Understanding and learning how to move on.

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Florida.  Mermaids and sex in the city.  Back porches, cigarette lighters, surfboards, ramen noodles and starbucks, again, of course.  Laughing and walking and simple things that are so wonderful.  Being content right where you are in life and not wishing away one second.

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Yoga and book club.  White room weddings.  Walks on the beach, driving in the car.  Disney world and Harry Potter world.

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Three week Europe trip that turned into three and a half months.  Changing in ways I didn’t fathom, meeting people and seeing things that leave me breathless.

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Traveling and home.

I am thankful that I can walk and talk, that I have all my body parts, that I can do amazing things with my body, I can hike a mountain, ride a horse, stand up on a surfboard.  Thank you God, you are amazing.

There are so many things I want to do in life but I think sometimes I get caught up in the things I want to do and do not focus on the things that I am doing.  I have so many happy memories, so much to be thankful for.  I am so incredibly blessed.  Twenty five years of wonderful memories.  Cannot wait for whatever else life has in store for me.”

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