Roughly 18 years ago, my parents sat me and my brother down to give us some important news. I was 11 at the time, and like any American kid, I crossed my fingers that it was Disney World. (We actually did go there that same year, but that was not the news they had to share.)
“We’re having another baby.” My wildest dreams were coming true! I always wanted a baby around but never thought it possible.
I vividly remember holding her for the first time in the hospital the day she was born. I remember the day she took her first steps. I remember showing her snow for the first time. And I remember how crazy life becomes when a cute little baby turns 2, 5, 13…
Well now Colleen is 17, and today she leaves for a class trip to Italy, which she has worked incredibly hard to pay for by herself. Proud doesn’t begin to describe how I feel about her for making this trip happen. Last June as I flew home from Spain, I wrote her this letter that I gave her before I left for Colombia. To celebrate her big adventure, I’d like to share that letter here. Enjoy!
“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us.” – Anonymous
As I sit on the plane back to Boston reflecting on my two years in Spain, I can’t help but think back to Perugia where I began my travels and where my eyes and my heart were opened wide to the world. That city changed my life in so many amazing ways. I think it’s incredibly cool that your first international experience will also be in Italy. I know you are going to love it as much as I did!
I wanted to share some advice with you that the world has gifted to me. Take it with you on your journey 🙂
Be open to new experiences and be patient with the differences you encounter. They inevitably give us what we need to grow. Be tolerant of other viewpoints and values but never lose sight of your own. Be gentle to people who seem like they need your kindness most. Talk to people; listen to their stories. Share your own. Write. Dance. Smile. Explore. Be CURIOUS!! Surround yourself with interesting people. Allow them to color your world and be sure to do the same in return. Always listen to your heart because it knows exactly what it wants and needs, and it will lead you to the most beautiful places and the most incredible people. Lean into your fears and use them as tools to keep things in check – but also challenge them because most of the time they’re just there to keep you inside your comfort zone. And whatever you do, never let them stop you from following your dreams.
I’m so excited for you to hop on that plane and see where the world takes you. I’m very proud of you for working so hard to make this trip possible. Your journey will be different from mine and that’s the greatest part about it all, but I’m also excited for our travels to take us places together! So, where to first?
I love you so much!