Orlando, Florida, USA
I think it’s finally setting in that I’m back. I’m really back home, to the USA, where the dreaming to leave the country and travel for a year all began nearly five years ago. It makes me feel anxious and sad but also proud. I can look back at my last year and smile about the dreams I made come true, the lessons I learned, the experiences I had and the wonderful people I shared life with for a little while. I’m sorry it’s over (for now) but I couldn’t be happier that it happened.
It’s now been three weeks since I stepped out of the Orlando airport into the sweltering hot, humid air. Since then I’ve been on a roller coaster ride of emotions. There’s days when I have mimosas with old friends or enjoy time with family that make me feel positive about being home again, but also those days that make me want nothing more than to escape and begin a new adventure.
A week and a half after returning home, I started a temporary assignment for a paid administrative job through a recruiting company called TEWS Company, which placed me in a few temporary jobs the summer before I left for Australia so I could save money. Although working through TEWS again was something I originally wanted to avoid, the assignment they called me about appealed to me because it was with Heart of Florida United Way, a non-profit agency part of United Way Worldwide. Not to mention, putting money into the bank again sounded pretty good too. I took it as a sign and went with it.
The assignment came at a perfect time because after an adamant desire to have a career in the entertainment industry since about 17, while traveling and since being home, I’ve thought more seriously about applying to non-profit jobs to officially begin my career. As much as I believe in the power of music and love being a part of the creative process that makes live music events happen, I have begun to feel a pull in a different direction as far as my career goes. I am always recognizing the needs of communities around me and have always wanted to be a part of making them better. I think a year around the world meeting people of all backgrounds and finding homes in places I didn’t even realize existed before also contributed to my strong desire to make some kind of difference in our world. I don’t want to just make money. I want to be part of a team that is working toward making the world better because frankly, I think it needs more of that right now. That is why I took on the assignment and am now working as a receptionist 40 hours a week until the end of September. Right, it’s not the public relations-related job I hope for in the future but it’s brought me to a wonderful and powerful organization with an abundance of experienced employees for me to talk to and learn from.
The downside of my temp job is the commute and the traffic that comes with it. Like so many others, I spend nearly two hours every day commuting to and from work because of all the other people who have to commute to and from work at the same time I do. It is normally during those two hours when I have the strongest desire to get out of this city. Not only is it a long and hot drive from the blazing sun but it’s also ugly. I pass by ugly building after ugly building, get cut off by impatient drivers and pass a lot of cars with people who seem miserable with the boring and ongoing routine of their lives. It’s hard to stay inspired and excited when all you see is sad looking people and even sadder looking buildings. On those drives, I always imagine a hike through the mountains or sitting in a coffee shop in a foreign land with a view I have never seen until then. Even after just a few weeks, I wish so badly to be exposed to new sights, new ideas and new people again. But until I am able to escape to a new city and enjoy that coffee shop with a mountain view, I’ll make the most of what I’ve got.
Staying inspired and excited has been both one of my biggest challenges and greatest saviors. In order to do so, I have continued to try new things and seek new out new places, even when I think all I want is to sit on my butt and watch Netflix, because what fun is returning to the same old things when you’ve just had experiences of a lifetime? To stay interested in the place I grew up and spent 21 years exploring before, I have started trying new activities like yoga, visited restaurants I never knew existed and discovered coffee shops I’ve fallen in love with. I’ve also tried to start seeing the places and activities I knew before I left in a different light. For example, appreciating the beach I know all too well for what it is and strolling the mall with my mom with an observant mind, noticing all the luxury we are able to enjoy that so many others don’t.
Despite the craziness that continues to happen in this country and this state (I’m talking to you, Hurricane Irma), I’m continuing to adjust back to the U.S. with every day and figure out the next big move with the same optimism and determination that got me the past year. It’s time to start real life, I guess, so I’m here to roll with it.