I was brave once. That was when my whole life changed.

September 28, 2016

When I was just about 20 years old, I decided to (despite the disapproval of my family and friends) take a year off of school. I was not happy with my lukewarm life, I was craving something more, something completely different and I couldn’t put my finger on what exactly that was.

So I did what a lot of people do when they feel how I felt; I travelled.  I left the country for my first time in my life and I travelled nearly 9,000 miles to Thailand, to assist an acupuncturist in her mission to provide medical relief to the ethnic minority refugees from Myanmar.  Little did I know this moment of bravery would completely shape me for who I am today, 6 years later.

Today, I am almost 26 and living in a rural community in Ecuador as a Peace Corps Volunteer living my real-life dream, rereading the journal entries I wrote while I was in Thailand, some were as followed:

  • “They transport people in the back of trucks and people ride motos with 5 people on them!”
  • “A lot of people aren’t wearing shoes”
  • “I met a woman named Dee, she escaped from the ethnic cleansing in Burma (Myanmar) and started a church here in Bangkok.”
  • “People here are so nice
  • “People here have almost nothing (in materials) yet they seem happier than most people I know in the States with everything. It’s like in the United States we are so materialistic and we are always looking for something bigger, better newer to make us ‘happy.’  Why can’t we be like it is here; they have their family and friends and they are truly happy??”
  • Day 1 at the IPD (internally displaced peoples) camp. I feel like I am experiencing something so unique and special that it will change the way I think…the way I live…”

I can honestly say, that if it wasn’t for the moment of bravery when I said yes to the invitation to Thailand I would not be where I am today.   I wouldn’t have learned so much about a world I hadn’t even known existed, but more importantly I wouldn’t have been able to learn so much about myself that had been buried under layers of my comfort zone, and the years of fear of being judged, or the fear of failing.

I owe it to my bravery 6 years ago for the life I have today.

I am not telling you to pack up and move across the world.  What I want you to take away from this is just to be brave, don’t be scared of failing, or not having your family and friend’s approval, because being brave is the biggest gift you can give yourself.  Take that job/school offer in Arizona, go to a movie by yourself, chop your hair off, go without makeup for a week, dress like a complete weirdo, date someone who isn’t your ‘type,’ stick up for someone, whatever!….Just BE BRAVE.

I was brave once.  That was when my whole life had changed.

Xoxo Anna Sombrio