Thank you. Gratitude is a hard thing to come by these days. The world seems to be so full of suffering and sadness. You can barely watch television without hearing of the darkness of the time in which we live. We have a choice though: we can let it consume us or learn to overcome it. I prefer the latter. One of the biggest (and often hardest) things is learning how to be thankful. Taking my recent trip to Europe as inspiration, I have a few thank you’s to give.
Thank you Europe for welcoming us back with open arms. Thank you for sharing with us your culture, your history, and your people. Thank you for teaching us the lessons you wanted us to learn. Most of all, thank you for another opportunity to grow. One of the greatest parts of traveling is the people you go with and the ways in which you grow in your identity and your relationships with others. This trip was no different.
To my aunt Lisa and uncle Jeff: thank you for welcoming us into your home. Thank you for all of the planning that went into making this trip not only possible, but also one of the most amazing I have had. Thank you, Lisa, for showing us around and helping us to navigate the craziness that is London. I’ve always loved hearing the stories of your traveling while you’ve lived abroad. I love getting to try various meals that you have picked up due to your time overseas. I’m also extremely grateful that my mom had the chance to visit you again and spend time with her sister. I know she misses you, Lisa. I’ve loved getting to know you two more through our visits. I love you both and already miss you.
To Kate: you have been such a support for me in medical school. You are one of my great friends and I am so happy we were able to go on this trip together. Keep being you, goofiness and all. I love our talks about life and can’t wait to see where you end up. Medical school is indeed a stressful time, but I am glad you are along for the ride.
Most of all, thank you to my mom. Words cannot adequately express how lucky and grateful I am to have you. You have always been there, and I know you will continue to be. Traveling with you is one of my favorite things. On our first trip abroad, neither of us really had a clue what we were doing. This time, however, we could focus more on being with each other. Thank you for mapping out the intricate details of the trip. I know you put in countless hours trying to make it all work. It showed in the smoothness of the trip overall. Thank you for coming. Thank you for being here with me. I love you more than anything in the world (along with dad and Bret of course), and I cannot imagine life without you. I am so proud to be your daughter, and I can only hope that someday I am as good of a mom as you are. Thank you for being my mom. Thank you, for being you. I love you so so much.
If you ever get the chance to travel, go. Do it. If life has taught me one thing it’s that the more you can experience, the more you will learn who you are. Each time I travel and see another culture or meet a new person, it forms me into who I will become. This is a direct lesson I will apply to my future patients as a physician, yes, but it will also be a rule of life for me with everyone I meet. You never know the impact you will have on someone or the world, so why not treat each person and experience as an opportunity to change the world in which we live. In a world so full of darkness, we need lights to shine through. In actions, in our relationships, in ourselves, we need love and kindness. So get out there, explore, learn, grow. Do something. You never know who you will meet or what experiences you will have along the way that will utterly change your life. Arguably, any experience could change your life, but only if you let it. Let the world change you, so that you can return the favor and make this world a much better place.