361 days ago I sat in Adam's car and talked about my future- whether i should go to grad school immediately or stay as the Director of Programs at Camp K for several years. I left the conversation believing that I would be in Utah for many years - and I was excited. I loved my life, I loved my job, I loved my friends, and I loved being close to Mel and Emmit. I thought I knew the direction my life would take.
153 days ago, I tearfully said goodbye to some of my dearest friends and family. These are friends that I have known for over 7 years, our relationship is effortless. They are friends who know me inside and out. We laugh, we fight, we cry, we kiss, we make up, and then we laugh about our silly fights. I knew that my leaving meant nothing would ever be the same. My life would forever be changed by this decision. My friends would move on with their lives and our relationship would be nothing more than an occasional "good to see you on your way through town" get together.
154 days ago I cried my eyes out in the basement of Ben's house because I was not ready to put my life on hold. I was not ready to leave Ashley, Adam, Ben, or Nick. I was not ready to give up my 3 bedroom townhouse with a private room for a "hostel-esque" living situation where I shared my bedroom with 3 other people and my bathroom included shower stalls and rows of toilets. I was not ready to give up my furniture, my car, or my big girl bed. I was not ready to give up the repitore I had built with my bishop. I was not ready to interrupt my eating and shopping habits. I was not ready to follow through with the consequences of choosing to move to Taiwan.
I wanted just one more month with Ashley. I wanted to be woken up by Emmit calling me "his Tiff" just one more time. I wanted just one more lunch date with Adam, where he is brutally honest about my weaknesses. I wanted one more night in my room, with my pictures on the wall, and my queen size bed I paid for all by myself. I wanted to stay in America, where I can read the labels at the supermarket and order food at the restaurant. I wanted to forget that I ever made the decision to sacrifice everything I had known and that was comfortable based on a feeling I had in my heart and a hatred I had for my co-workers. I wanted to keep the grown up life I had created for myself just a little bit longer.
153 days ago I sobbed at 12 AM while Adam tried to keep me together and put things in perspective. We came up with these decisions - First: I could not step on the plane and stay in America. Second: I could go to Taiwan and come back in December. Or Third: I could absolutely love it and stay an entire year. After talking for over an hour I realized that my desire to run from a decision always comes when something great is about to happen. It happened on Spring Summit- to think I almost never went because I was afraid blows my mind. It happened when going to Changzhou- it was there that I grew closer to my Heavenly Father than I have ever been. It happened when I decided to postpone graduation to take recreation therapy classes, and that is the semester I met some of my closest friends- including Ashley.
I am a runner. I run when things get hard. Adam helped me to see that this experience was no different. I was running because it was hard- and I very well could have a life changing experience. Plus he helped keep things in perspective by reminding me that I could come home if I hated it. I did not HAVE to stay here for a year. So with his support and the support of countless other people I boarded the plane, convincing myself I would be home in December.
While I do feel like I have made tremendous growth by stepping out of my comfort zone, I don't feel like I have had one of those, "come to Jesus, life changing moments," like I had in Changzhou or Moab. There have been some really great moments where I didn't think I could be an happier, and then there have been really hard moments where my heart literally aches and I can't stop crying. When all I want to do is get a big bear hug from the guys and eat EL Fudge with Ashley on a Friday night.
When faced with the decision to stay or go, my first instinct was to run- to go back to America in December and leave all of this behind. But I knew the euphoria of being home would only last a couple weeks and then I would always wonder "what if I would have stayed." These past 5 months haven't been too challenging in terms of what to expect- I knew what living in a foreign country meant, and the roller coaster of emotions that come with leaving your comfort zone. I have not been the least bit surprised with my emotions. However, I don't know what to expect these next 6 months.
It is crazy to think that just 154 days ago I told myself I could go home in December. I could literally be home in 4 weeks. Enjoying Cafe Rio, embracing my friends, experiencing a winter (guess you can take the girl out of MN but you can't take MN out of the girl), and establishing a new comfort zone.
I don't know how I am going to last another 6 months- I am still trying to dig deep and find the motivation to stay strong. It is difficult when I get text messages from Ashley telling me to come home every time I cry about how much I miss her, or seeing Emmit on SKYPE and having him ask when he can see me again. Getting voice messages from Ben saying he hopes to see me in December and texts from Adam saying he misses me, make it challenging as well.
I feel blessed to have such amazing, supportive friends (but more about that in the next post). It just makes it so hard to want to stay for another 233 days. But for better or worse I am here, who knows, maybe my "come to Jesus moment" is still to come.