Radiating Positive F&%*ing Energy

I don’t know if the full moon really has anything to do with my life spiraling out of control once a month, but since I have moved to St. John I have definitely paid attention to the moon and what goes on in my life during the full moon. I always seem to get some text that will throw me off for a couple days, or one of my relationships will all of the sudden be strained and I just feel totally out of control and have no idea how to handle any stress other than to just cry and act like my entire life is falling apart. That’s kind of my go-to.

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In the couple of days leading up to this past full moon I started to get really anxious and I just knew things were going to get screwed up. I’ve had a really good month, I’ve been generally pretty happy, so of course I was just waiting for it to all blow up in my face. And it did! Because that’s just how shit works for me. I don’t have anxiety all of the time but when I do, it is pretty drastic. I annoy myself with how down I get, how much I over-analyze every situation, and how I can’t stop talking about the same stupid things to my friends over, and over, and over again (my friends and roommate are nodding their heads in agreement as they read this). That is pretty much how I have been during the full moons, coincidence or not, and now that the moon is going back to how I like it, I feel myself being a little less crazy.

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.” When I get into these funks, the thing I try to remind myself of the most is that you get what you give. I totally believe that we are in a universe that hears us, feels us, and picks up on our energy. When I am able to pull myself out of a slump by just screaming at myself, “YOU’RE FINE, YOU’RE HAPPY, YOU’RE SO STABLE AND PUT TOGETHER!”, I start off really not believing that any of that shit is true, but if I put off that energy, positivity will come back to me. IT WILL. BECAUSE I BELIEVE IT (kind of, but I still might be trying to convince myself).

I said goodbye to my closest family friends this morning as their vacation, and my staycation ended. I had so much fun while they were here, of course it went by way too fast, and the end always just sucks. I sobbed in the car on my way home and I called Dakota and said “Hey, I’m gonna pick you up, and I’m gonna cry, and I need that to be fine.” As always, it was, and she sat there and listened to me give myself a pep-talk, and we both laughed as I was gripping the steering wheel with white knuckles, holding back tears saying, “I am just going to be happy. I am going to radiate positive fucking energy.” Positive. Fucking. Energy.

Life is just shitty sometimes. Sometimes when you’re a 23 year old girl, totally in over your head, no real plans or commitments, it can just really suck. Sometimes life is amazing and you don’t even know how you got so lucky to live the way that you do, but then in the blink of an eye or the change of a moon phase, it can all go to shit. You have no control over the vast majority of things in your life, but what you can control is what you put into this world and give off into the universe. When Dakota got out of the car this morning, I said “Okay QUICK, give me a pep-talk!” She tried to quote The Help but totally screwed it up, so I reminded her that the talk goes, “You is kind. You is smart. You is important.” In true Dakota fashion, she added, “You is sexy. You is ready.” True.

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Let Go, Let God 

I was scrolling through Twitter the other day and my beautiful friend Bri posted a series of tweets that resonated with me. It was something her previous prayer leader taught her about holding on to things that aren’t meant for us and I’m going to do my best to reiterate what she said.

So- think of something you really love and you really care about. Picture holding it in the palm of your hand and someone trying to take it away from you. You love this thing, you want to keep it, but someone is trying to take it from you so you resist and you fight back and it hurts! They’re not giving up, you’re holding it so tightly in your palm and they’re just ripping it out of your hand. So, what if you just let it go? You trust what they’re doing, you open up your palm, and you just let it go. Sometimes God gives us things that aren’t meant for us and He has to take them back. If we just open our palm, let it go, trust in Him, it won’t hurt so badly. “Simply, obediently, and gently.”

The older I get the easier this is for me to understand and obey, but I still fight it. I will have things in my life that I know I don’t have control over, that I can’t change, but I’ll do everything in my power to try because I really struggle with letting things go. I think about this in relation to my life in general and wonder about my plan and my purpose, and the more I try to control and change the more I get hurt. I don’t really know why I’m here, I don’t really know what I’m doing, but I have to stop trying to figure it out.

When I sit down to think about my faith or just faith in general, I am amazed at how underrated it seems to be. Having faith in someone or something is so extraordinarily powerful. If you identify as being a Christian, you have blind faith in something much bigger than all of us. You send your prayers up to someone you can’t hear respond, you trust in a plan that you’ve never been told about, and you do this with faith, hope & love. Why? I was raised by Christians but Christianity was never forced upon me, I was given the resources to make my own decisions about my religion and spirituality and I chose to confirm my faith through my church. I chose to follow God, and through living this “life I imagined”, I need to give so much more credit and praise to the real reason why I am here. It is part of a plan that was put together just for me, just like every other tiny little compenent of my life. All for a reason. “God will wreck your plans when He sees they are about to wreck you.” Have faith, y’all.

 

No Hurry, Don’t Worry 

I arrived back to St. John yesterday after spending a week with my family in Virginia. I laid out on Hawksnest today, thanked God for having the day off, and let out a sigh of relief to have back my “normal.” I miss my family and friends every day, but at least for now, this is where I need to be. 

I grew up in Loudoun County which is just outside of Washington, D.C. and the lifestyle there, my old lifestyle, is such a drastic change to what my life is now. In just 7 months I have realized how much I valued things that were insignificant, how much I worried about things I couldn’t change, and how hard I tried to fit into a mold that wasn’t made for me. I looked the part- I carried the designer bags and I drove the Lexus and Mercedes around and I genuinely thought that I wanted to be successful so I could have those things forever. I still want to be successful, but in a much different way. 

Success to me is my sheets completely drying on the line before its time to go to bed. It’s spending an hour talking to Carly in one of our beds and catching up on everything we missed if we spent more than 12 hours apart. It’s being able to pay my rent and my bills with a little left over for happy hour with my friends and the occasional DJ from North Shore Deli. Success to me is walking into the coffee shop and the barista starting on my medium caramel iced coffee before I even finish saying good morning. You know how when you get your check at a restaurant and there’s a little section that says “customer” and it normally says something like “Table 6” or whatever number barstool you’re in? Success to me is having met so many people and made so many friends that no matter where I go, they always type in “Vic” because they don’t need to identify me as what seat I’m in, they know me. 

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who would want to live in a small town, but now that I know what it’s like I’m not sure I ever want to go back to an overpopulated suburbia or a big city. I love saying good morning or good afternoon to every person I see. I love being asked how my day was before I’m asked what my order is. I love knowing everyone’s name, where they came from, and why they’re here. While I was in Virginia I had several people tell me they noticed how much I’ve changed, how I seem so much more relaxed and how my anxiety isn’t weighing me down. I’ve learned to slow down and accept things I can’t change, which I think are the two things I needed to happen the most. I used to race around cramming as many errands as I could into one day. I used to try to control every situation I was in, think of every possible way to manipulate the outcome into what I wanted. I was a blonde ball of stress and anxiety but hey- I always had a fresh manicure and lipstick that matched my purse! 

I am so grateful for my friends and family for their support and for noticing my change because I notice it too. I am happy to finally be happy, and with no one to credit but myself. I wish I could pass on this energy to everyone in my life. It’s so important to slow down and stop worrying. It’s freeing. 

Overlooking Overlooks.

 

In the past 6 months of living on St. John, I have come to realize how many profound differences there are between vacationing here and residing here. While on vacation I remember craning my neck out of the taxi while driving down North Shore Road trying to soak up every glimpse of the overlooks as we passed by. I’ve noticed lately that I don’t even glance over anymore. The beauty of the island hasn’t changed, it’s just as stunning as it was last summer, but my perspective has changed and I’m not sure I like that.

trunk bay overlook

Trunk Bay

A lot has happened in the past couple of months, on island and at home, and I’ve been feeling a little numb. I go to work, I go to the beach on my days off, I hang out with my friends…but I don’t think I’m taking as much out of this experience as I should be. I’m tired of spending days in a bad mood over a stupid reason, I’m tired of not being happy enough with myself to enjoy being alone, and I’m really tired of feeling like there is “nothing to do.”

annaberg overlook

Leinster Bay 

 

My roommate had a friend visit and she had never been anywhere like the Caribbean before. She was overwhelmed with how amazing St. John is and as we sat on the beach watching the sunset over Cruz Bay, she went on and on about how happy everyone looked. That made me think about how I don’t even notice that anymore…I don’t notice the toddlers shrieking as the water splashes on their tiny toes, or the honeymooners taking too many kissing selfies, or the amount of joy pouring out of people who have worked all year for their one week. That is a pretty overpowering thought- people work all year long to be able to spend a week on this island and I can say with certainty that I have wasted a full week here being in a shitty mood.

cruz bay overlook

Cruz Bay

I am taking a vow to work on filtering out negative thoughts, focusing on my own happiness, and exploring to find more to make me feel fulfilled. There is a whole world here on this little island and it is time to refresh and see it from a new perspective. I am going to stop thinking about how I’d rather be in bed when someone asks if I want to go sit on an overlook after spending too long in town. I am going to stop compulsively checking my phone in hopes for a text while the sun is setting over the ocean right in front of me. I have been letting bad vibes and routineness cloud the views. I am going to stop overlooking overlooks.

coral bay overlook

Coral Bay

Find Out Who Your Friends Are

For anyone who hasn’t been around me or received a desperate phone call from me in the past week…here I am to inform you that my best friend left today. Krista and I met at the school where we both worked, she moved here Jan 1 and I moved here Jan 2, both from the same part of Northern VA. The day I met Kris, I told my friend Colleen in the car on the way home about her and Colleen said “Yep. That’s your girl. She’s going to be your island soul sister.” Well, she was.

I am heartbroken and devastated for selfish reasons because I just want her back here with me, but I am so proud and so excited for her taking her next step. This is part of living in a place like this…people come and go. That’s what I keep hearing, at least. I am just hours into the process of having one of my closest friends leave, but I have already learned so much. First of all, it SUCKS coming home to an empty apartment. I knew that already, but it had been so long that I kind of forgot what it feels like. I’m an emotional, single, 23 year old girl far far away from home, coming home to an empty apartment. OUCH. I needed to get out of the apartment, so Carly told me to pull myself together, grab a happy hour drink at Rum Hut and go visit her at work. I parked my car in town, called my ex boyfriend in hopes that would make me feel better, proved myself wrong for the 100th time, and walked into happy hour on the verge of tears. When I walked up to the bar two of my good friends were sitting there, my favorite bartender was working, and I sat down and felt better in about 2 seconds. They all already knew I was upset…they knew my friend left and they were there to tell me about their stories of their first friend leaving, they were there to take a shot with me and they were there to help me make a plan for my next step. I walked in feeling empty because my friend was gone, but left very well reminded that I have friends wherever I go on this little island.

Your friends are the ones that know you’re a hot mess but are going to stand behind you and tell you that we’re all hot messes, buy you a shot and give you hug. Your friends are the people you meet and know from day 1 they’re going to be in your wedding. Your friends are the ones that tell you that you really don’t seem that drunk, the mascara smeared across your face is barely noticeable, and that you can sit at their bar and keep crying into your patron margarita all night long.

Thank you to Alex and Melissa for just being at the bar when I walked in. I needed that more than you know. Thank you to Bizzy for listening, understanding, and telling me how you got through it when it happened to you. But mostly Bizzy- thank you for the bombs and for blowing bubbles at me. Bubbles make everything better. Thank you to Kim for that sympathetic look on your face as soon as I walked into bdeck. I needed that compassion and understanding, and you gave it to me before one word left my lips. Thank you to my sweet Carly Jo, for rubbing my back and telling me everything is going to be okay, while simultaneously laughing at me for being such a disaster. You know I need you, and you’re always there.

I am going to miss Kris more than I can put into words. We started this journey at the same time and everything we learned, we learned standing next to each other. I am forever grateful for her friendship and it will be one that I will cherish for the rest of my life. Sometimes you just know, and with her…I just know.

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You Leave Home, You Move On & You Do The Best You Can

The past few days have been a little off. I woke up yesterday morning to a text from my sister in a group message with my parents asking who wanted donuts. My sister sees my parents all the time, they text in the group message about meeting for lunch and dinner often, but yesterday it just hit me a little harder. I wanted a donut! I wanted to be sitting in my living room and hear my sister say “Hi!” over the jingle of her car keys as she hung them on the hook. I wanted a cup of tea from my step-mom, a donut from Taylor, to talk to my dad about cars and to watch Nathan and Grace play together.

After school today I listened to “The House That Built Me” on repeat for the entire drive home. When I got home I poured a glass of wine, laid in bed with Carly and cried over old pictures of proms, birthdays, siblings being born, old boyfriends and holidays with my family. So, these are the houses that built me.

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My dad, Claire, Taylor & I moved into this house in 2002. I was 8, Taylor was 9, and Nathan was weeks away from coming into the world. When I was little I would make wishes while blowing on dandelions and every time my wish was the same. “I wish I had a baby brother or sister.” My wish came true, a few times over, after I moved to this house. This house was my stability. I come from a huge family where things were bound to get a little crazy from time to time, but my dads house has always been steady ground. My safe place. I came home to my dad when I needed to know how to fix my car, open a bank account, or what to write on a job application. I came home to Claire when I needed to cry about some meaningless high school problem and I knew she would always be on my side, 100% of the time, without question. Almost as often, I came home to Claire to tell her about some medical ailment I was convinced I was dying from and have her tell me I was going to be fine, and I believed her every time.

In this home I found out I was going to have a little sister by snooping through Claire’s laptop. It was just her & I at home when I called her down to explain the picture from her sonogram. She claimed it was Nathan until I kindly pointed out the 2007 date stamped on the top, and so we sat in the basement and laughed and talked and smiled as I asked her a million questions and thought about my life with a baby sister. Charlotte Grace brought exuberant joy into our home.

 

We spent many Christmas mornings in matching pajamas. We spent many hours watching redbox movies and eating sushi. We all cried in the driveway when I left for college. I practiced softball in the backyard with my dad and played on the playset with Nathan and Grace. I was in my bedroom when I found out my 9th grade boyfriend cheated on me, I was in my parents room when I found out my Pepa passed away, I was in my kitchen when I found out I got into ODU, and I was sitting on my deck when I told my parents I was moving to St. John.

I will never forget the sound of my dad opening up his suitcase to give us presents after a business trip, the Sonos playing Goo Goo Dolls, or the smell of the Yankee Candle that always made me think Claire made cookies. 14 years of living in this home gave me enough strength, happiness, and wisdom to get me through the rest of my life.

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My mom, my step-dad Pete, Taylor & I moved into this house in 2002 while my mom was pregnant with Aidan. 2002 was apparently the year for baby brothers and new houses. My step-dad Rodney had passed away a couple of years before, so the years in between were difficult for all of us to find stability. Moving into this house was the beginning of a new chapter and a new family. My moms house is typically something out of a Martha Stewart or Williams-Sonoma catalogue. Black and white family photos hang perfectly on the walls, our Tiffany blue kitchen aid mixer is a perfect splash of color under our black painted cabinets and our mantle is always decorated with flowers and candles. This is the home where we would take prom pictures, have family gatherings, and where I wanted to bring my friends. All of the beautiful things in our home are a representation of hard work and dedication which is what I learned from my mom and Pete. They showed me what it took to get up in the morning, work your ass off all day, and come home exhausted with a smile on your face and be able to pull together a meal you would have thought took hours. I can’t fathom how many times I’ve walked in to my mom blasting music in the kitchen, dancing around wearing a baseball cap while doing all of the dishes or making a meal to take to a get-together. Or how many times I’ve heard Pete grinding coffee before 6am to bring up to my mom in bed to wake her up. Those moments are so pure and so full of love and looking back on them is a reminder of the light-hearted happiness that filled our home.

In this home I celebrated my 16th birthday and some uninvited guests (the police) shut that down pretty quick and I spent the next 3 months of summer INSIDE that house and NOT out with my friends. Oops, am I allowed to talk about that yet? Pete, I can feel you rolling your eyes as you read this. I became a big sister, again, to my sweet little Aidan Cooper. I wish I could put a number on how many family gatherings we have had in this home. Cookouts, crab feasts, 4th of July jello shots and surprise parties. All of those moments are a representation of how important family is and how much love is shared between so many people. In this home I’ve watched endless SNL skits that Pete had already watched 10 times over but couldn’t wait to share them with us and mouthed the words as they played. I’ve listened to Pete strum the guitar in the front room while the dog sits next to him on the couch looking out of the window. I’ve heard my mom and my sister start the sentence “WHO TOOK MY….” about a million times. In this home I threw a hot straightener at Taylor’s head, screamed at my brother at the dinner table, and slammed my door enough times that I’m surprised it didn’t get taken off the hinges. I’ve stolen bottles of Jose Cuervo out of the pantry and refilled Grey Goose bottles with water. I clearly remember being the definition of an angsty teenager in this home so I’m really glad they still like me. I was a little insane.

Taking a day to remember these moments started off a little sad but I’m really glad I did this because it is now a documented reminder of how God has blessed me beyond words with two amazing homes with two lifetimes full of memories. I wouldn’t be where I am today without all 5 parents and all of my brothers and sisters. They gave me all of the knowledge and strength to leave home but to always remember where I came from. They built me.

Cheers to 23!

I turned 23 yesterday. It has been challenging for me to accept that and to let go of 22 because 22 was a pretty amazing year. In the past year so much has happened that led to such a huge progression of who I am as a person. I graduated from college which was the end of a 16 ½ year long journey through education and that in itself opens up a door to becoming someone new. When your life revolves around school for so long and all of the sudden it’s over, you have all of this time and all of these resources that are open to you that never have been before. It’s when you get to decide all on your own and turn away from the pressure of what you’re “supposed” to do next and do whatever you want.

college educated

Reflecting back on the past year is almost overwhelming because of how much has happened. I started off 22 in a serious relationship, we had plans to take the next step within that and if I had stayed on that path I would just be moving out of Norfolk and we would have been looking for an apartment together. I thought that at this time I would be committing to being with one person for the rest of my life…and now that sounds like the most insane concept I’ve ever heard. I am still good friends with him and I still care very much about his happiness but in the past year I had to figure out that I wasn’t contributing to that at all and I was really just trying to stick to a plan or not break any promises. I was fully prepared to just live the rest of my life that way. Until I went to St. John with my family in July.

July was a turning point of 22. I met someone that changed my life very significantly, and not in a totally positive way, but in a way that I am so thankful for because it brought me here. I learned from him the possibility of picking a place on a map, picking up your life and starting it over. After I thought, “I want to do that too”, I told my family and my mom’s friend that I was going to move to St. John. I said it out loud for the first time not even believing myself and my mom’s friend laughed and said “No you’re not.” That was all I needed.family july

My last semester of college was spent at a full-time unpaid internship, working through a breakup, and planning a move 2,000 miles away. Some of my closest friends still didn’t believe I would do it. I thank God for that doubt because without it I don’t think I would be here. On the night before I left, one of my best  friends told me he hadn’t even processed the fact that I was moving because he didn’t really think I would go. I find a lot of strength and pride in that, not anger or annoyance that anyone doubted me because moving to an island is a hard thing to do and I totally understand that doubt. That doubt is what fueled me to get through my last semester and to make all of my plans, to pack up and leave home, and to get through the period of adjustment after I arrived.

I spent the last 4 ½ months of 22 building a new life on an island. I have made extraordinary friends that have turned into a family. I have seen some of the most beautiful things a person can see in their lifetime. I have gone on adventures and I have tried new things. I have had my heart broken and have fallen into a mess of sweat and tears alone in my rock hard bed, but I’ve had my roommate come in and lay with me, rub my back, listen to me and tell me that everything will be ok. And everything always is ok, because I have an amazing and very happy life. In my year of 22 there have been days that I’ve questioned every decision I’ve ever made, there have been days that if there were an airplane in front of me I would have gotten on and flown home and not looked back. I have also had days that I’ve jumped into the ocean, stood up and looked around and just started crying at how surreal and amazing this experience has been.

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22 was full of very low lows and very high highs. Overall, this past year has brought me such significant growth and happiness that I’m a little scared to let it go, but very hopeful and determined to keep exploring, keep growing, keep loving, and keep getting better. 22 has made me better and I am so proud of how far I have come. I will remind myself that I am not really letting go of 22 but I am bringing the very best parts and all of the lessons with me into 23 to make it even better. I am deeply at peace with my life, and my heart, mind, and soul are fulfilled. Thank you so very much for the words of encouragement, the shoulders I have leaned on, the listening ears, the chatty happy hours, the well wishes and safe travels, the congratulations and the happy birthdays. All of those things from all of the amazing people in my life are what has gotten me to this place of peace and joy. I am eternally grateful for each and every one of you that have shown interest in following my journey. You have helped make 22 remarkable. Cheers to 23, y’all!

When Are We Going To Get Ahead?

My roommate Carly and I decided we needed to have an “adulting” day and take care of things like paying our internet bill, grocery shopping, and checking off other things we save for cloudy days. We started talking about our finances as part of a discussion on just how expensive it is to live here and how it has been a rare and fleeting feeling to be financially secure. She said something that made me think. “When are we going to get ahead?”

Before Carly moved to St. John, she was using her degree working as Graphic Designer and was doing well, was secure and stable, but hated her job. I was finishing school where I was lucky enough to be financially supported and I could have moved home after college and continued to live for free as I built up my savings and my resume but I would have continued to be miserable. We came down here from different parts of the country, from different backgrounds, for a lot of different reasons but the one we have in common is that we were searching for something more.

When milk costs more than rum, and a cheeseburger at Doghouse costs less than buying the ingredients to make it at home, it is hard to get yourself to the grocery store to stock up on enough food to prevent you from eating out all of the time. When Rum Hut happy hour is just $3 a drink but you get 4 and tip 100%…it does start to add up, but your friend invited you that you haven’t caught up with in a while. When your friends ask you to go on a boat trip after you just went on one the week before but they’re going to a place you’ve been dying to go to…it’s hard to say no. We live in a place that you have to put in some serious effort to balance work and play. In your free time, if you aren’t at home by yourself watching Netflix you’re out spending money.

So, what’s the cost? Yeah, my rent is crazy high and I just spent $75 on groceries that I would have been able to get for $40 in the states. But, I brought my groceries home to my apartment on St. John and while I was putting them away I was watching the sunset over the ocean out of my window. I live where people write songs about, where people go to get married, where people vacation and dream about a different life. I am experiencing something rare and incredible and the monetary cost is high but the mental, emotional, physical, and spiritual benefit that I have received in the last 4 months will outweigh the cost 10 times over.

We ended our talk with the conclusion that we would much rather be broke and happy than miserable and rich. Are we ever going to get ahead? Are we going to have more than a few months rent in our bank accounts at one time? Probably not, but I can say with certainty that we are ahead. We are ahead because we are smart, independent and brave 22 and 23 year olds living out a dream. We’re kicking ass. We’re ahead, girl.

Two Months.

I feel like I was just writing about my first week here. Today marks month 2! Of course there are still challenges and there are still days when I wonder why the hell I did this, but overall, I am so overjoyed. I am so blissfully happy. I imagined a life of living on St. John, I designed it, I followed through the plans, and I am here two months later. I made a promise to myself to stop living for someone else and build a life on my own where I am the most happy. I am here.

Today I got my eyebrows done for the first time in two months which made me think about all of the other things I haven’t done in the past two months. I will share some of those things with you.

In the past two months:

  • I have not had Dunkin Donuts iced coffee, or Starbucks.
  • I have not walked into a Target.
  • I have not had a meal with my family.
  • I have not watched Netflix in bed. Or watched cable- at all.
  • I haven’t seen my dogs or my hedgehog.
  • I haven’t hugged my best friends.
  • I haven’t used an ATM without a $3 fee.
  • I haven’t put my clothes in a dryer.
  • I haven’t gone a day without putting on bug spray, or getting bit by a mosquito.

There are a few other things that I haven’t had the luxury or convenience of doing in the past two months, but I would much rather share with you the things that I have been able to do. In the past two months, I have had more carefree laughs, more genuine friends, more deep breaths, more stares up to a clear sky full of stars, and more happy hour dates than I ever have in my life. I have spent more time on the beach, and swimming in clear water with turtles than many people will ever be able to do in their lifetime.

Yesterday was a day that tested my patience. My phone stopped working and since I didn’t have internet set up at my apartment, I was NOT feeling good about going home to an empty room with no connection to the outside world. I was at school when this all started and I had plans to go for a swim with Veronica after school so despite my foul mood we went. When we got there and were sitting in the parking lot I had to use her phone to talk to the company that was bringing my car over from St. Thomas to St. John. This is the same company that handled the registration, title, plates, stickers, etc., so I was waiting on the total that I owed them. I was prepared for about $500-600, so when they told me my total was $1,256.88 I pretty much lost it. My fault for not looking into how much all of the different fees are, but on top of my phone not working, I was not being able to transfer money into the right account since I had left school and didn’t have wifi anymore or pull out that much cash at once, I just became so frustrated and so overwhelmed. I dragged my sorry ass to the sand, dove into the water and stood there and looked around. Ok- shit was kind of hitting the fan and I really didn’t know how I was going to fix everything, but I was dealing with all of my problems while I was swimming in the Caribbean Sea with my good friend on our way home from work. Who else can make a pit stop to the Caribbean Sea on their way home from work? My worst days here are still the best days of my life. A phone, a car, money…it’s all replaceable. The days I spend here, the friends I make here…I won’t get these moments back once they’re gone.

I obviously still take things for granted. I would love to say that I live each day to its full potential and I don’t bring the stress of things that don’t matter into this experience, but I am human. I live on an island 2,000 miles away, yeah- I’m gonna cry a little if my phone breaks. I think that’s ok, as long as when I calm down I remember how utterly blessed I am, how much joy I have in my heart, and how in love I am with this island and the life I am building here. There won’t be a day that I won’t have one challenge that I wouldn’t have if I lived in the states, but…I live on St. John. Two months down, how many more to come?

hansen

Just A Number.

Today is Krista’s 23rd birthday! Which means I’m basically the only 22 year old left on this island. Ok- dramatic, I have one friend that is 21 but still. I’m essentially an infant. I didn’t realize that I was going to be on the younger end of the people who live here. When I was desperately trying to get through my last few months of college I felt so old and I felt so much pressure to go off and do something crazy while I still had time. Now here I am, most of my friends are in their late 20’s or in their 30’s, and I feel so ridiculously young. I think I carry myself well and I’ve never had anyone tell me they thought I was younger than I am, and actually most people are surprised when I tell them my age. Which I am going to count as a good thing. There’s nothing worse than being the newbie AND people thinking you’re young and immature. Just not a good look my friends.

When I was planning this move I told myself a million times “if not now- then when?” and I still hold that to be true in my particular case because there are a lot of things I want to do in my life that would be really challenging to do on a rock in the middle of the ocean. But as I have met people, learned peoples stories, and learned more about this place, I have come to realize that the drive to do this and the reasons that people come here don’t have much to do with age at all. Whether it be getting away from a destructive relationship, or from Corporate America, or pursuing a dream of becoming a boat captain or simply just wanting a change- all of those things are far more common than “I just wanted to do it before I got too old.” Maybe moving fresh out of college at 22 years old is a little less complicated because I’ve had less years to put down roots, less years of accumulated baggage or debt, but I also have less experience and less wisdom. There are people who went out into the work force and used their college degrees, pushed through a job they hated until they were able to make this move. There has to be a different level of appreciation when your story starts like that. I feel like there would be more of a drive to live this life with everything you have in you and take every single day for what it is. I set that reminder in my head every day, but I don’t feel like it comes naturally because maybe I didn’t have to work as hard for it.

What I am trying to say is that age is just a number. I would rather measure my life in moments and experiences, in friends and in drinks at happy hour. I would rather it be measured in times I’ve had my heart broken and times I have learned from my mistakes. I would rather connect with people based on loving the same netflix show, understanding of the story we all have of “that one guy” or the ability to have a fluid conversation rather than the difference in numbers on our drivers license. I thought that 22 was the time and that if I didn’t do it now I never would, and I have found so much comfort in learning about all of the things that have brought people here that have nothing to do with age. I find comfort in the fact that if this doesn’t work out for me now, I can always come back. It won’t be too late, it won’t ever be too late to find passion and follow it. Age is just a number- there is so much more to life than numbers (also, I hate numbers. I failed college algebra three times).