They say home is where the heart is. I had a home.
I thought of myself as a very empathetic person. I thought I was one to quickly love, to welcome strangers to my heart with open arms. I was half right.
I’ve learned that I do hold a great capacity for empathy, and though I’m one to very quickly find a reason to care, it takes me a while to love. It takes me even longer to show that love, which is a very difficult realization to come to in my position, preaching the importance of honest communication yet struggling to do so, myself. I was a hypocrite. And I don’t doubt that I still am in many ways. But if one were to never admit and even seek out his or her own flaws, all sense of personal progress is lost. To cease progress is to claim perfection, and I strongly believe that the road to the perfection of character is one that never ends, if it exists at all.
So I’ve finally come to admit it. I was such a hypocrite. I demanded open roads to open hearts when I had a wide open road to a heart encaged in steel. But realizing the issue is only the first ring in a long chain of steps to true growth. I need to address the flaw. I need to change the action, the root, that causes the problem. I want to change it. I want to grow.
Pre-departure training gave me the opportunity to do just that. Over 100 Global Citizen Year fellows for the 2017 cohort were brought together, everyone eager to get to know each other, myself included. But I was scared to. I always have been.
UWC-USA was the first home I had. The first genuine home. Graduating left me stunned. I was left homeless. Two years with some of the most inspiring students I have ever come across, I began to pull apart the steel cage. Steel is difficult to mark. Hearts are much more fragile. So my heart was scored, by friendship, failure, pain, and by love.
If home is indeed where the heart, I was sure I’d lost my heart in losing my home. But I was wrong, again. And so begins another chain of change.
The marking of a heart is a difficult, painful process. Little did I know it’s exactly what my heart needed.
They say home is where the heart is, and I found my heart exactly where it’s always been: with me. The marks on my heart on my home. The bruises, the tears, the laughter, and the love are all a part of my heart, now. Together they are my home, and my home goes wherever I go. I thought I’d lost my heart. I’d found it. I thought I’d lost my home, when in reality it never left me.
So it is with this bridge year that I chose to break down the last of the cold steel cage and build a home as infinite as the love I’ve been given and hope to give. I was once told that they best way to receive is to give away what you seek.
With open arms I welcome this year and with an open heart I launch myself into it. I wish nothing less than the best for my friends starting college, and for my fellow fellows beginning their bridge. May you all hold onto your hearts. And may you all discover a home.