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I have been looking forward to this day for a long time: touching down in Chicago after a leaving a year ago. I’ve promised to literally kiss the ground when I do. Without question, I’ve missed the place that became home after I left home.

It was about this time back in 2005 that I took a leap of faith and walked away from a comfortable existence to find a life more satisfying, if not a little less ordinary. Four short years later, I’ve finished a second overseas stint and am halfway through a graduate program that, in all probability, will become the foundation for whatever higher and better use I find for myself.

Am I any closer to finding it? Perhaps. I hope I am. Without question the realm of International Affairs is slightly less mystifying than it was a year ago. But that that is like saying one is more than zero. I now know what I don’t know. And although I can’t point to any specific direction or path, I’m enjoying finding it.

Chicago skyline at night.
The city of the broad shoulders.

When the plane took off a few hours ago I thought about my decision to try and find something substantively different than what I was doing. I returned to a question I have often thought about in relation to that move: does every meaningful change in life need to be that dramatic? Does that type of move yield the biggest results, or is it better to work around the edges and incrementally move toward an envisioned goal? Did I really need to do all of this? Call it a temporary form of buyer’s remorse.

Perhaps. Perhaps there is no real answer to that question. Maybe it's better to spend this flight ruminating on what I've gained since makings such a dramatic change. Prior to this, and prior to Jamaica for that matter, I knew nothing about this field of study. I'm excited about it and feel the possibility of applying myself toward something impactful. I have an expanded worldview, context, and with any luck, humility and perspective. Since starting down this road, I have always focused on finding the best use of my life, but was not sure if it was to feel better about myself or to improve the lives of others. Turns out it's both.

And maybe that's the learning for now. Instead of looking backward and questioning, it is more useful, with respect to making valuable change in one's life, to focus more on acknowledgement of things gained. I have about 10 more hours to think about that before we touch down.



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