So, what’s next?

I was drifting around a perplexing European city. I didn’t know where exactly, but it seemed familiar. My surroundings were unclear because the cityscape was comprised of small circles, like an abstract painting. It was blurry and confusing and void of joy. People moped through the streets with hunched backs and sadness swelling in their eyes. They avoided each other like the plague, but this appeared to be normal as they carried on with their daily, mundane routines. I couldn’t understand what was happening or why. I felt trapped and I didn’t know how to escape, but I shared in their sorrow as I dragged my feet aimlessly through this obscure melancholy world.

Eventually, I stood up a little straighter, held my head a little higher and looked forward. My eyes aligned with two of the circles that created the bewildering landscape and suddenly I could see clearly. It was like I found a pair of new glasses with a strong prescription and I could finally see the happiness and bright colors that surrounded me. Kind of like one of those Allegra allergy commercials. At last, I felt free. As I was adjusting to this newfound blissful world, I was overcome by a powerful voice. It said, “Once you find what makes you happy, don’t lose sight of it.”

And then I woke up covered with goose bumps. I have never had a dream like that before.

My plans for next year have been on my mind a lot lately. Should I return to Spain? Should I try to find a “real” job at home? But what would that job be? I can’t even begin to think of a starting place.

For me the hardest aspect of life is the direction I lack. It weighs on me daily and I constantly wonder if I’ll ever find “my thing.” You see, I didn’t come out of the womb wearing a fighter pilot suit like half of my family. I didn’t enter college with a specific career in mind. Some days I desperately wish I could have wanted to be a doctor or a teacher or a lawyer, and so that’s what I could have studied and that’s what I could have become. But it hasn’t been that easy for me. It’s never been that easy for me. I mean, I changed my major four times in college until it was my senior year and I just needed to settle with something, anything really, to graduate on time and avoid more student loans.

The only thing I’ve consistently been sure of is my deep desire to travel and explore this world. I’ve only ever been certain of my wicked case of wanderlust.

When I decided to move abroad for the first time last summer, it was an impossibly difficult decision for me to make. I felt like I was swimming upstream and going against every social norm and expectation. Trying to make a decision transformed me into a monster and I hated every single minute of the process. I made it unnecessarily difficult for myself because I wasn’t focusing on my own happiness.

However, I’ve decided that it’s not going to be so difficult this time around. I could spend my time searching for some job in some office in Dallas or Fort Worth, trying to conform to what is expected of “grownups.” But I know every day I would look back and think something like, “Ugh, last year at this time I was surrounded by whales on a boat in the Canary Islands but that adventure has ended and now here I am in—what the hell am I doing?” I know my heart couldn’t handle that. My heart isn’t ready to give up this adventure. And the scary part is, I don’t think it ever will be.

So I’m not going to wage a war against myself this time. I’m going to listen to my heart, and my heart only. And that feels good. If I’m happy and content here, why should I change that?

I want my life to be “the opposite of loneliness.” I want to chase the one thing that undeniably brings me bliss and makes me a better person. I want to continue to share my stories, my photos and my writing with you all.

So, simply put, my plan is to return to this beloved city. Plans can change, and I’m prepared for that, but for now this is how I intend to keep my happiness in sight.

But as much as my heart lusts for travel, I absolutely cannot wait to spend some much-needed time at home this summer. I’ll be returning to the great state of Texas at the end of June and I imagine I’ll be eating Chipotle everyday for quite some time.

On July 7th, I’ll be packing up again and heading north to Alaska for some quality time and adventures with my extended family.

I also plan to travel to Tucson, Salt Lake City and Los Angeles for more friend and family time.

At the end of July into early August, I’ll spend a week volunteering at my favorite place on Earth, Camp El Tesoro de la Vida.

Then, in late August, I’ll help my littlest little brother settle into his new home and university in Malibu.

And sometime in September I’ll make my way back to my beloved Madrid to spend another year working with smiley Spanish kids and making the most of my time living abroad. I expect to have even bigger adventures, some, I hope, with my family in tow.

I’m probably going to need a way to make some money this summer, so if you have any odd jobs, want a family portrait, need a babysitter, or want someone to plan your vacation, I’m your girl.

Thank you for your endless support and encouragement! It means more to me than I could ever explain.

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