You know what’s been one of my favorite parts of Remote Year? I feel like this experience is helping me to figure out what I want in my life.

Not necessarily because of some cliche notion of finding myself. I don’t believe that that’s what something like Remote Year is for. They even tell you not to go on Remote Year to find yourself, though that doesn’t stop people. But, I personally believe that finding yourself doesn’t happen principally through experiences. Yes, the experiences, the constant change and the challenge are helpful in that process. But it’s not the crux of it. “Finding yourself”? that shit takes some serious internal work.

But I digress.

What I love about Remote Year is the concentration of experience. The sheer number of challenges, changes and uncomfortable moments packed into this year.

Each month I have a new living situation with completely different personalities and different lifestyles, sometimes from different countries. The ability to adapt to those new environments and personalities is admittedly challenging. Especially if you’re someone that has lived by themselves literally since you graduated college. We also have a new type of apartment of varying degrees of “nice” every month. It’s being flexible and having the ability to integrate the new space and what’s available to you in the space into your life. Is the kitchen tiny? Are there not enough cups? Do you have to wash your dishes by hand (seriously the bane of my existence…#firstworldproblems)? Do you need to share a bathroom?

We’re also in a new city each month with new cultural intricacies. This month in Medellin has been fascinating for that reason. Seeing the pride that these people have in a simple cable car or Metro station…it makes you realize how much we Westerners take for granted. These systems have enabled people from some of the poorer communities to have a job and livelihood that they can depend on and that doesn’t lean so hard on the drugs, crime, etc. that they could succumb to in their neighborhoods.

I try new foods and go on new adventures. I had never eaten papaya before! Not a fan. I had never eaten passion fruit (ie. maracuya) before…and don’t let the snot-like consistency fool you, it’s AMAZING! I have never eaten lunch out of a banana leaf and it’s to date one of my favorite meals I’ve had in Colombia! I’ve never gone freaking waterfall rappelling and I fricken LOVED it. Who would have known that that’s something I enjoy?

This concentration of experience is teaching me a lot. But mostly it’s teaching me the subtleties of what I want in my life and the kind of experiences that I value. I value adventure, challenge and change. It’s taking personal growth for me to a whole new level. It’s taught me what I want in my relationships as I’ve realized how I miss the connection of the people that I left behind back in the states. It’s taught me which adventures make me feel alive and which I can do without (give me all the waterfall rappelling, but I don’t necessarily need to make a 50ft jump off a bridge!).

Interestingly, it’s also taught me what makes these different places feel like home and what makes me feel like an outsider. Give me a cup of coffee, a view, and a place to kick my feet up and it’s amazing how at-home I can feel in a country where just communicating directions to my cab driver is still a struggle. Give me a place to karaoke. Give me a place to read. Give me the ability to go outside and hike, photograph, etc.

And, importantly, it’s taught me what day to day, week to week, month to month I can tolerate and what I can’t stomach. The kind of situations I avoid because frankly the confrontation just isn’t worth it to me and what kind of situations that I passionately feel like voicing my opinion over. The more I experience on this trip, the more I become aware that I am confrontational. But only selectively. Only when I have a passionate opinion and one when, frankly, I care. I’m coming to embrace that aspect of myself.

Concentrated new experiences.

That’s what Remote Year offers. And when you have that, it gives you so much clarity on what things you need, what meaning you want in your life and in your relationships and what is important to you! That reason why you’re living and what motivates and fulfills you, for me, is becoming much more clear. And that’s freaking priceless and is the biggest reason why I’m obsessed with this experience!

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