“It’s not a goodbye ; It’s a see you later” – Justin Julian
Time to destination: 6 hours
Distance to destination:About 4000 miles
Speed: 538 mph 864 km/h
All my life, I have been fortunate and blessed to live my life. Everyday, I am reminded of that. I have a loving mother who supports my endeavors always. I have two young, incredible, intelligent brothers who I would give my life for. Life has left me with scars during my adventures, but I believe that life without problem is not life but rather mere existence. How can you call it life, if you are sheltered from the world?
Everyday, I am reminded of what gifts I have been granted. From being able to sit down and watch my younger brother perform in speech or attend France as a student, I have been reminded of these treasures and opportunities. So… despite my knowledge of the English language, my understanding of my gifts, and my pure bliss from adventure can I not summon words? Why can I not summon words to express to you why this trip has changed my life?…
I cannot express to you just how life changing this trip has been because truly, words do it no justice. No string of words can express to you the amount of joy, honor, and confidence this trip has bestowed upon me. I feel as if my understanding of the world has been shattered by this experience, and I am more than okay with admitting this has been revolutionary in my life process. Before, I thought I understood the world. My thoughts stayed locally within the nation with only the concept of outside the nation. Now, I can say that I understand … almost little to nothing. This world is truly grand, and I am happy to know that I am unaware of it all. All the more reason to want to chase knowledge down. I want to chase knowledge all across the world… this trip made that a goal for me.
Have you ever stopped to admire where you are? Perhaps you don’t because you’re not happy where you are. Maybe you are resentful or just a busy person. Unable to stop… Well, I agree with you. I can almost feel the response people get just from reading this. The questions that froth to the surface. How can you tell me you agree with me with not admiring the area you’re in? You just went abroad! I’d hope that you would at least admire the area! Well, yes of course. But I am not talking about abroad.
I am asking you about where you are in life. Are you stopping to admire your life around you and the things you do daily? Now while I understand the response I will receive may be more negative than positive, I am not surprised. Nor am I claiming innocence. I understand what it means to feel like where I was in life was not what I have been craving. My life, despite how grateful I am and how blessed I have been, and I hope I always will be… seemed almost lacking… something.
I spent months pondering what could this… something… be. What could be so crucial in my life that I haven’t seized it already or at least try to? How do I pinpoint what this something is? What is MISSING?… During those months in my life, I realized I was doing my absolute best in school, work, and I was still working on my family and searching for a greater calling. Clearly, I was trying to make the best out of myself, yet I felt so incomplete.
The best feeling in the world in my world is when an answer long sought after arrives in a torn-up package When I can unwrap the box without care about delicate delivery or fancy wrapping. I love knowing that I can just dive into whats really inside this package, and I can apply it to the problem I have worked on for months… And I found that messed up package with the answer I longed for in France.
I realized that I was doing absolutely everything correctly. YES EXACTLY. Momma was proud of me, my brothers and I are working together, and I can say to myself I am striving for the stars in my academics, social life, and global understanding. I truly can. When it comes to my efforts, I realize I have reached for everything I could… What was missing for me was never in my site in the first place. Even if it was for brief moments, I never realized just how important it plays in life. I always assumed international travel and global education was something my professors threw my way because it is the most common thing to encourage a student to do, but I underappreciated that advice.
I felt like the puzzle I have been twisting and turning had been almost solved. As if someone realized I was struggling, and they realized I had left puzzle pieces inside the box still. You can’t complete the puzzle without all the pieces… Or can you? Yes, you can. You can complete a puzzle without pieces. People have been doing it for ages. For many reasons both extremely understanding and not, people can abandon puzzles altogether if they feel like they no longer need to complete the puzzle they started with. They can turn a blind eye to something if they don’t feel the same passion, will, or reason that guided them to start it. This abandoning nature can be frustrating, but do we understand just how common it is? Have you ever started something and left it because it was too hard, too ambitious, or too costly to something?
I never would have been able to make my dreams come true had it not been that my mom who gave up it all to raise me and my brothers. She gave up part of her life to ensure that her kids who went homeless once, starved never. She did everything for us. My mom is my driving motivation to continue despite the temptation to call it quits when it gets tough… Despite this nature we have adapted to let go when it gets rough, she helped forge my want to see things through. This is why despite it all… I decided to chase my gnawing feelings of incompleteness to this program. To study abroad. The best choice of my life.
Granted, I must address this before anyone gets the wrong idea. There are more than enough reasons to abandon something. If you’re truly unhappy, being harmed by continuing this, or genuinely have lost interest in the subject or topic, I believe you are free to decide whether its worth seeing through. Never let anyone or anything discredit or invalidate your emotions towards something. However, if you truly love something… and you just enter a rough patch? Don’t call it quits. I believe the best things in life happen when you least expect it, and I believe that your dedication towards it will define if you reach the point where you can see amazing results or lose halfway there.
My hardships in my life had ensured that I should have abandoned my dreams long ago. I should have not stood up and kept walking. I lost so much.. lost so many loved ones… My dreams once turned to nightmares and they would haunt me day and night. I would wrestle with how I really felt about my life that I should have stopped caring because it was easier, but with the right support, determination, and ambition… I stand with my hands open to the world, and I am screaming.
“CHASE YOUR DREAM. CHASE IT!!! YOU CAN’T GIVE UP HERE! I KNOW IT’S SCARY BUT THE FEELING OF NEVER FINISHING HURTS MORE THAN TRYING TO THE END AND FAILING! DON’T STOP RUNNING TOWARDS THAT GOAL! HEAVEN KNOWS HOW LONG TILL THE END … SO MAKE LIFE WORTH EVERY. FREAKIN. SECOND!!!”
I can’t believe I had this experience… I can’t believe I have the answers I needed. Now, I can write the ending to a chapter that has been open for far too long, and I can begin a new one. The challenge now is just how I want to organize this chapter… but to be honest. That’s for me to figure out. Right now, I want to leave you with my last thoughts.
Despite the problems, you need to continue towards whatever goal you have set for yourself no matter how small or big. You need to be willing to take risks. One of my greatest problems was not knowing what was truly missing from my life… I found that abroad, and I believe you can do something similar. Because… no matter what your goal is, learning from somewhere else besides your home country is nothing but beneficial to you. No amount of money can substitute for the incredible gift of experience you find throughout your adventures. From my time in France, I realized that there are many adventurers out there whom are seeking their own answers. They’re travelling to find out more about language, culture, culinary, history, mathematics, engineering, architecture, and everything under the sun.
Just interacting with these kind of people contributes to your own adventure. You pick up pieces of information, stories, and lessons across everyone. However, you have to be willing to journey outside your comfort zone. The comfort zone shelters you from the possibility of problem and allows you to pretend that nothing is wrong… when in reality you’re harming yourself from not wanting to expand your views and understanding of your area… but of the world.
The journey of a lifetime begins with a single step in the right direction. You can find a globe (literally) full of people whose stories may be similar to you, and you can create solutions to problems you would have never thought of because you never mingled with minds besides that of an area you are already settled in. You need to be willing to seek answers outside in the world.
Take to the world. Remember that you are as incredible as you truly believe you are, and the hardships do not take away from who you are or what you want to be. You can leave puzzles unfinished, let dreams turn into what-ifs, and allow for the world to take you by storm…
Or you can become the storm…
And let the world see just how powerful you really are.
And people wonder why we name storms after people…
God bless the FEA, the RFD, my momma and my brothers, my friends I made during this trip, my friends back home, my mentors, my dreams, my thoughts, and everyone who said this was impossible… I am soaring 35,000 ft in the air, planning in my head where else I can take my education in the world, right now, because of YOU.
… Thank you for giving me what I have been looking for… Who would have thought I would have found it in France. I am looking forward to becoming part of this Alumni full of people whose lives have been changed forever. I am honored to be able to join these ranks with pride, happiness, and excitement. Hopefully, I can share my experience with as many people as I possibly can. As a first generation college student with brothers slowly climbing up the ranks, I hope I can guide them to this magical part of life, for they will find answers they would have never dreamed of if they would have never taken the chance.
Take risks. Live in the moment. And Travel the world.
This may be my last entry, but this is not goodbye. Just know it’s a see you later. Who knows? If you can join us in traveling the world, I hope I bump into you. I can share some more crazy stories with you. Thank you again to everyone who made this possible. Thank you Foundation for Education Abroad for sponsoring me. I have a dream to continue traveling the world thanks to you. It’s time to come home… but now… I finally know what I am going to write in the last chapter.
Thank you for everything – Justin Julian