I am not going to lie, I was the cliche' angsty high school teenager who talked about how as soon as graduation came, I would be as good as gone from Ohio. I wanted to move to New York, and California, and meet new people and be a free spirit and have adventures that people in Ohio could only dream about. To a certain degree, I thought the things I would be leaving behind could never compare to the things I would encounter somewhere else. Somewhere different. Somewhere "better." Fast forward to now, almost a year after I walked across a stage with a diploma in my hand, and a smile on my face, and here I am, sitting in the same bedroom I have been sleeping in since eighth grade. I am not backpacking across Europe, or drinking kale juice on the beaches of California, but I get the distinct feeling that God has been doing a lot of things through me. I get the feeling that while I may not be where I wanted to be, I am where I am supposed to be.
First and foremost, God has humbled me. I was so sure the plans that I had for myself, were the only ones that mattered. I thought that I needed a new town, a new atmosphere, a new life to be happier. I thought that the life I had here in Ohio could never offer me the things that I needed to be the best version of myself. Turns out it was not a new life that I needed, just a new perspective.
I have never had a big family, at least not a family here in Ohio. In all honestly, this was the biggest factor that contributed to me believing leaving was the best thing for me. If I left Ohio it would be easy, I did not have a big, close-knit family in Columbus the way a lot of my friends did. I thought it would make it easier to leave. Looking back now, I know how wrong I was. I now know that family has a lot less to do with blood, and I lot more to do with love.
I wanted to leave Ohio for so long because I had convinced myself that it wasn't my home. That I would be happier elsewhere. However, I have made a family here; a makeshift group of people that I love to no end. People who have my family over for holidays, people who will drive around at three am with me and talk about anything and everything, people who let me be a character in their story. These people may not share blood with me, but there is no other word to describe them besides family.
I was going to move to Tennessee earlier this year, I changed my mind twice. I found myself grief-stricken by the thought of missing out on adventures with my family. I thought about missing out on seeing the baby I watch learning to walk. I thought about missing getting to celebrate birthdays with my best friends, my sisters. I thought about missed opportunities to drive forty minutes to see my best friend at school, and the feeling of excitement I get when she shows up at my work on weekends to surprise me. While these things might seem silly to some, these moments, these little pieces of life, they are everything to me.
The things you do, the adventures you have, they are important, but what is more important is the people you are doing them with. The people in my life, the ones that speak into my life on a daily basis, they are the people I want my adventures with. While I know that life is weird and plans change, I am happy where I am now, even if it is not where I originally wanted to be. I am proud of my life and my story, and I am proud of the stories that mine has collided with.
I cannot wait to travel the world one day. I still cannot wait until I can backpack all over Europe and Australia. I cannot wait until I am able to go volunteer in orphanages in third world countries. I cannot wait to see everything on God's beautiful creation. I cannot wait for all the adventures. I look forward to the little adventures I have everyday. More than anything though, I am so happy for the lives I have encountered. The lives that have made me better. I cannot wait for the adventures, but I am more excited to know when I have them, I will be able to look next to me and know that the people I get to share the adventures with, they are the reason I ever made it this far. I don't want the adventures if the people I love aren't a part of it.
I know now that I have a family, I have a story that is more beautiful than before because I wrote it with other people. I know now that the adventures are out there, but that here is home.