never turn down an opportunity to make a friend

by Katharine on February 10, 2012

{my friend Sam and I having a pants off dance off at a disco in Prague.}

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about fate and destiny and how certain decisions I have made since March 2011 has led me to where I am today and how certain people who have stepped in my path over the last eleven months have left such an imprint.

Next month I celebrate my one year anniversary of traveling abroad.  I smile when I think about all of the incredible experiences that have happened since I boarded that plane to Prague, but recently I’ve been focusing on the people I have met along the way.

 

The decisions I’ve made, the opportunities I’ve taken or turned down, and the people I’ve met who have come into my life to make their mark in some way and push me to get here,  to this place that I consider my second home.

 

I think about the Frenchman that I roomed with in South Korea who said: “Make Australia your last stop on your journey.”  I never thought I would fall in love so hard with a country.  I can’t explain it, but I feel it.  I love everything about Australia – the accents, the jargon, the culture, the coffee, the weather – and that sometimes it scares me because I feel like I could spend the rest of my life living abroad in various countries around the world.

I think about the girl from Hollywood, California that I lived with for a month in the hostel when I first arrived in Sydney.  West Coast model met East Coast tom-boy, yet for that month we lived together, we were inseparable and it was so nice to have a partner-in-crime and someone else to share those memories with.  I think about how it really is true what people say:  certain friendships will only last during the duration of your time in the same city, because now that she has returned to California, we don’t talk anymore.  I think about all of the great times we had together – like going skydiving together after only knowing each other for two days – and how much I will treasure those memories and inside jokes we had.

I think about two of my friends I met in Prague who left to travel to Italy, Greece, and Turkey.  I think about how much my decision not to go with them has led me to Australia.  I think about what would have happened had we all decided to get that flat together in the City Center or traveled to South East Asia together to look for teaching jobs.  While I certainly miss them, I know that my decision not to follow them and my decision [later] to not take that teaching job in Thailand has turned out to be one of the best decisions that I’ve made over the last eleven months.

I think about the guy from San Diego, California who I met in the hostel in May and how if it wasn’t for him I wouldn’t have been introduced to a reason to stay in Australia for one year.

But most importantly, I think about the guy that I met at a cafe in Sydney on what should have been my second to last day in Australia.  I think about those moments I sat in his cafe, reading my book, writing lesson plans, drinking the delicious coffee he made me every day, people watching out of the window, and how just being in his presence while he was working made my world shift back into place instantly, day after day.  I think about that question he asked me that first night we slept together (but didn’t sleep together): “What one word would you use to describe your personality?”  Because that question really makes you think about yourself in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise.  I think about how open and honest I was with him with my dark and damaged past and how the act of revealing my brokenness forced me to be more vulnerable.  I think about how our own separate struggles with depression really bonded us.  I think about all of the things that relationship taught me:  the importance of communication, the importance of vulnerability in order to create a deeper connection with your partner, the importance of opening myself up to a man – even if the moment wasn’t right, even if I wasn’t looking for it – because you never know what could come out of it.  And then I think about the questions, the actions, the things I didn’t say that maybe I should have.  I think about the things he didn’t do that I wish he had.  I think about the one thing he did do that I so wish he hadn’t.  I think about how important it is not to have hatred or bad feelings towards him because as much as his action hurt me, I still believe he’s a good person and I will always want the best for him.  I think about how he has played such an important role since I’ve been here and how grateful I am that our paths crossed, if even for those four months. 

I have been fortunate enough to have met some great people throughout my travels, some of whom have become close friends.  One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned over the last eleven months: never turn down an opportunity to make a friend.  I didn’t like every single person I met along the way.  I got along with some people better than others.  But in every outing, every hostel I stayed at, every networking event I attending, and every person I was introduced to in some way, shape or form, I created opportunities for friendships.

Don’t be afraid to create opportunities for yourself because that one person you may not want to talk to or get to know or be afraid to introduce yourself to?  Well, they may very well be your next close friend or relationship.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Gina February 14, 2012 at 6:29 PM

Next month is your one-year travel anniversary? Time really does fly, doesn’t it? Next month is one year in Korea for me. I love that we started our journeys around the same time and have followed each others journeys through blogging.

I also love that I got to meet you in person! You’re definitely one of the most inspiring people I’ve ever met, and I feel privileged to call you a friend. :)

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Katharine February 14, 2012 at 10:50 PM

Everything you just said there? I FEEL THE SAME WAY.

Though I’m super sad you’ll be returning to the States soon, but I cannot wait for what this next chapter in life has in store for you. You are going to do so many amazing things and you are one incredible woman. Don’t ever forget that.

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Chris February 18, 2012 at 4:27 PM

I always love to read about how people can fall in love with the country I call home. I just wish I could feel so much passion for the place. I’m always trying to get out :-p

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Katharine February 19, 2012 at 7:32 PM

I reckon it’s a mutual feeling for a lot of travelers. Now that I’ve been abroad for a year and have lived in Europe and Australia, I don’t love the U.S. as much as I did before I left.

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