Looking Back to Look Forward

When I go home at night, I go home to an empty apartment. It’s full of stuff, and if I had the motivation, I swear I would throw most of it away. An unfinished scrapbook. Language books, of which I’ve only read the first chapter. Presents to be sent off. Piles of laundry. An empty suitcase. Unread GRE study guides…

Ardith Laverne – July 6th, 2009 – I’m Back

That was nearly three years ago. My heart aches when I think about how scared and alone I was. I panic, wondering if it’s cyclical, if what appears to be an upswing is just a fluke.

But then again, I am hopeful. I am hopeful that I have learned enough to be more intentional in my work and in my play. I have looked inward before turning my gaze outward.

Tonight, I find myself in a room that’s bursting with books. I still have those language books, but I have a plan to pick up Spanish again because I get a tuition waiver at my new employer. An employer that is providing me with a job that is literally a dream job; my dream job, it turns out, is progressive, challenging, meaningful, and relevant to the well-being of communities. My dream job supports me in my development as a person and as a professional. And in the face of challenges, it tells me, “You’re the right fit for this. I can’t wait to see what you do.”

Those laundry piles I mentioned are still around, but they’re full of articles of clothing that evoke feelings of happiness. A lot of those clothes come from cities to which I’ve traveled. I see a shirt and I think, “Oh, I got that in Hawai’i over Christmas with my mom.” Or, “This is my favorite shirt, the one I found in Vegas.” Superficially materialistic, I’m aware, but I have attached meaning to these objects, and overall, that meaning is lighthearted.

I had presents, up until recently, that needed to be sent off. They were gifts from travels. Some of them I eventually mailed; the others were hand-delivered.

Lastly, let me tell you, those empty suitcases have been filled. Those empty suitcases traveled to many faraway places in the past several years. Those empty suitcases were tossed into the back of a car or the belly of a plane so many times that I bought a new set of suitcases to fill and lug around.

I don’t know how I did it, looking back. I don’t know how I even took the steps needed to open those GRE guides, write those letters of intent, track down a volunteer organization overseas, and take a major detour from the path I was on. It wasn’t easy, but I got there.

So now, I should tell myself… don’t be afraid. You have traveled in darkness. And when everything seemed hopeless, you still found a way. Nothing will stop you.

You are unstoppable.


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