I believe living in the moment, living without regrets, living for the story. The choices I make, the things I believe, are all shaped by the situation I am in. I used to be someone who obsessed over small interaction or conversation I knew I would have to have. I tortured myself over mistakes I made, over conversations I had with a girl who, I convinced myself, hated my guts, because of the way she reacted to a joke. Overanalyzing used to be my way of life and my life was miserable because of it. It was impossible to believe that anyone really liked me, if I was being used, or if the only reason I was kept around was because I was some inside joke that everyone was in on but me. I was a paranoid kid and this way of thinking and living lasted until about the end of sophomore year in high school. I cannot say that I don’t replay conversations in my head, because sometimes I do, or that I never have a moment of self doubt, but the fact that I take things how they come at me now has made me a happier person. At least I thought it has. This philosophy of life that I do my best to live in has made my interactions with certain people a lot more genuine and has helped me figure out the type of person I am, instead of trying to be a person others want me to be. Sometimes though, it makes it hard to really comprehend what I am really feeling, because, everyone, absolutely, has to think about things sometimes. And when I found out my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer for the third time, I didn’t take time to understand what that meant. It was an email which read, “I’m sorry we didn’t get to talk yesterday. We have had something happen very fast and surprisingly here. Tomorrow I am going to get another nodule removed that is breast cancer.” I was stunned. It has been a little over a year since my mom recovered from her second time having breast cancer and this came like a sucker punch. No that’s not right, because I can take a punch, this came at me like a truck. This hit me so hard I didn’t even realize I had been run over. It was something I understood and something I had been through before so I felt like I was handling everything well, and with all of the work I had been doing with my host family in Ecuador, It was hard to keep at the front of my mind. I was never able to sit down and think about what I was going through, what my mom was going through, what my 13 year old sister was going through. No one could have seen this coming, so there was no one who could help explain how this situation makes sense. I would vent with my aunt in emails with the subject, “F###åÊCancer,” where we could complain about how unfair this is, but even then I didn’t really get that this was actually happening. Being thousands of miles away, living a completely different life than what I hadåÊmakes analyzing different. It wasn’t until I had my first training seminar, the main purpose of which is to take a step back and analyze everything that has happened to you in the past two months, that I started to feel something. The amount of factors that lead up to me breaking down are so vast that I probably can’t even name them all, but I can say I know the biggest reasons. First of all, at this seminar I was able to reunite with, who is without a doubt, my best friend in Ecuador, Isabel Nardi. It was honestly the only reason I was excited for this training seminar because I thought it would be fun. I was having a great time with my host family and really starting to get accustomed to everything, so I felt no reason to be excited for the seminar besides the fact I would get to reconnect with my closest friend. Which I did and it was incredible, but I did have this really truthful moment with myself where I realized that I would never be able to connect so perfectly with mostly everyone. The second thing that factored into my moment of clarity was the fact that I was having so much fun. My life with my host family is fantastic, I get along with everyone and I honestly enjoy the things I do every day. And with all of that said, it is still really hard. I still struggle with Spanish and 12 hour work days are not easy. So this was the first time in two months where I didn’t have a single moment of struggle beside having to choose between vegetable, chicken, or fish for lunch. (I chose fish obviously). Lastly, and probably the biggest factor of them all, was the fact we were staying at a beach house type resort. I could wake up to the ocean waves and go for a morning walk looking for beach glass, which is my moms favorite thing on earth. So after a few days of laughing, catching up with people, taking pictures, and swimming in the ocean, things started to sink in. The moment this ticking time bomb went off, I was at dinner with everyone and we were having pizza, and people were complaining about how long things were taking, and I was ranting about bullshit comedy routines, and then I just couldn’t do it. I couldn’t put on the nothing is wrong face anymore so I turned to Isabel and told her I was going to the beach, and she said ok I’ll make sure to save you a slice. I then ran out of the restaurant, down to the beach, and sprinted into the water. I needed to feel something real. I needed to be put into my place. I needed nature to show me what power was, because the past two days were nothing but laughs and I needed to understand that in a week my mother was going to start chemotherapy, while I was in Ecuador, at a beach resort, having some of the happiest days of my life. And that just didn’t feel real, it didn’t seem fair, and it didn’t make sense. I took a moment, standing there letting the waves crash over me, to really think about what is going on in my life. I took a moment to breathe, because I didn’t realize I had been holding my breath for this long.