Why I Joined

by Erin Kelly
January 10 2010

Monday, November 16, 2009 at 10:24am:

“Mom,

I want to go with you. I know that might sound crazy and might not be the most rational thing for me to do at this point…but I keep thinking about what you were told when you were about my age…how you were already making compromises at that age. One of my previous co-workers at Carol Fox, who I bonded with last summer, told me a similar thing. She was talking about how she had recently gone to live in Spain with relatives for a little awhile, but she had wished that she had gone sooner. She told me that if I want to do something, I have to go out and do it now while you’re still young, before you get tied down and keep coming up with excuses. And I know that’s something you’ve been telling me all along as well :).

I’ve been thinking about my next steps, about what I want to do, and although I don’t have a completely clear picture yet, I do know that I want to travel and do something to make a difference. I’ve been trying to figure out how I can incorporate this desire, this longing to go out and do something, to see the world and experience things….and it hit me as soon as I saw your email. This is it. This is what I can do. I can go with you and help you. I can write about it. I can help turn it into a documentary, like the narrative part…or anything, really. I just want to be a part of this.”

I wrote that email to my mom in response to her inquiry for people I might know who are “making a difference,” when she first mentioned the project idea to me. I remember the moment clearly. I was checking my email at work and clicked on the message, thinking it was another gentle reminder for me to start thinking about studying for the GRE’s (my mom is totally right, I really should be studying for those right now) :p. Anyways, I opened it up and found it to be quite a different message. While I was reading it, a strange feeling came over me. I’m not really sure how to describe it. I think the best way to say it is that it was an intense wave of excitement – my stomach filled with butterflies, as if I were extremely anxious about something, and I felt unusually determined and ambitious. I thought to myself, “I have to do this. This is what I’ve been waiting for – a way to travel and figure out my life.” It’s cliché, I know, but aren’t all clichés based on truth?

You see, I consider myself to be in a somewhat nebulous state of life at the moment. I graduated college with no definite job prospects, and even worse, no idea what I wanted to do. I still don’t. I mean, of course I have ideas, but the tricky part is figuring out how to combine all of those ideas into a plausible lifestyle. I need to define my priorities, discover my strengths and weaknesses, channel my passions into projects….just figure things out. I need to travel. Maybe it’s because I’ve grown up with the notion that self-discovery is important and that the world is meant to be experienced and explored. Maybe it’s because I was an anthropology major and I love learning about other cultures and languages. Maybe it’s because I want to do something worthwhile, something that I will be proud of and that I am passionate about. Or maybe it’s because I want to follow in my mother’s footsteps and see where it takes me. Whatever the reasons may be, I just know that this is something that I want to do; that I need to do. And that is why I have joined on in this project.

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