15 of the things I learned on my first solo road trip

1- You do not need anyone to accompany you in order to have an amazing time trying something new; For me it was almost more exciting to be alone on an adventure. I got to go where I wanted and stop when I wanted. It also helped me realize #15

2- I am still not a fan of catcalling (what-so-ever); Yeah yeah some guys catcall as a form of complimenting someone, but how are girls who are from 16-29 supposed to take it as a compliment when all our life our parents have been drilling thoughts such as: “You can’t do that, you’re a girl.”…“No you can’t walk there alone, someone might take you”…”Go change someone might get the wrong idea”, into our heads causing us to feel constantly afraid in certain situations? (like when we are being catcalled) I mean the amount of times I have heard those phrases is ridiculous and now its all I can think of when I get catcalled. 

3- Your thoughts can be destructive; My mood can go from 100 to -36 with one negative thought about myself, where I am going in life, or what someone might thinks of me. Man, I learned on this trip that I do not only need to filter what I allow myself to say, but what I allows myself to think. This is because my thoughts may not effect other people but it can effect me and my mood tremendously.

4- People take life WAY to seriously; Driving down the road stuck in traffic what is more entertaining and rewarding then letting yourself rock out and bob your head to your favorite song? Sitting in silence without a smile on your face apparently, because that is what every car I saw on my 8 hour drive was doing…. UGH this aggravates me, and to be honest makes me fearful. Why is it so hard for people to let loose, be crazy, and let anyone and everyone see the raw version of yourself. So what someone thinks you are too loud, or are annoying. So what if someone gives you a weird look because they don’t get your joke. Just be you!

5- It is so important to make connections with people in college because they will be the ones to drop everything, loose sleep, and open their home for you; I could not be more grateful for the friends I have and the friends I stayed with while in LA. They opened their home and fed me and loved on me, and wow I would not have had that amazing of a trip if I had stayed in a hotel alone. 

6- True friendships are not defined by the amount of times you talk on a weekly basis, but by how easily it is to reconnect once you finally see them again; This is an important one to me. So many people that I have known (and even me myself) has taken it offensively when one of their friends did not talk to them every so often or make that effort. When in reality why does that matter. What matters is the moments when you haven’t talked in months and you get a random text message saying “Hi, how have you been? You’ve been on my mind.”. And what matters most is that you have the ability to pick up right where you left off, no buried anger, no awkwardness, just joy to be talking to them again in that moment. 

7- Hugs oh hugs are my favorite; I will never turn down a hug (unless you are sweaty) because they have the power to speak 100 phrases whether it be saying I love you, I’m SO glad to see you, or I am here to support you. 

8- Sometimes it only takes a few words to comfort the worst of feelings, and sometimes silence is the perfect way to ruin an entire day; Do not disregard the power of words and the lack there of. 

9- The thought of seeing certain people can make your stomach drop to the ground (in a good way) those are the people you need to fight to keep around, because even if you don’t know it they mean a lot to you in some way; That feeling ^ is not something you feel everyday, it is not a feeling you get when you are walking in the front door of your home, or when you see a stranger walking past you. That is the feeling you get when you cannot even express how much you wish you could see that person, that is overwhelming nerves, that is someone you want to be around so you should make that happen. Get over those nerves and hangout with that person that makes your stomach drop. 

10- You find out who is first on your list of people to tell the most random things to; Mine is my mom and dad lol I called my mom about 100 times and when i saw random things I couldn’t help thinking “dad would love this”. And I believe you need to remember that because they mean a lot to you, obviously my choice does lol they raised me but even if it is not your parents make sure you appreciate them.

11- I do have voices in my head; Not the “I’m crazy and need meds kind”, but the type Chris Young talks about in his song Voices. While on my trip I could hear the voices of my friends and family telling me advice such at my dad telling me to “Keep your distance, because you never know when the car behind you will get distracted and hit you”, and my mom telling me “You look amazing in that, and I can tell you love that outfit.” reminding me not to second guess something I feel amazing in. Plus the lovely advice of my friends telling me ” You are you, and who you are is unique. Not everyone will understand, but those who know you, love everything about you. So don’t let those who don’t have the honor of knowing you tear you down.”

12- Some people don’t care about you as much as you thought they did; When I have those moments where I think “I could totally break down right here and be stranded”  it is normally followed by me mentally making a list of people I could call. Well I learned on this trip I shouldn’t be so sure about that list I made (same goes for you if you do this too). Because I definitely learned that the people I thought were on my list actually could not give a damn. While people I thought didn’t care, actually should have been on my list the whole time. And the only reason they weren’t is because I disregarded them thinking that since I would think twice about going to pick them up, they would do the same. That leads me to the next one ->

13- I want to be on EVERYONE’S list; I desire to be the person that would drop everything to drive an hour and a half to pick up my friend stranded at an auto shop only to drive back home, feed them, let them stay the night, and then drive them back when their car was ready. Think about how much that would mean to you if someone did that for you – then think about how amazing you  would feel after you did all that for someone. Yeahhh, I want to be on everyones list. I want to be known as the person who absolutely cares about everyone so much so that they would drop everything in time of need. 

14- Pay attention to the things you think about around the 5th hour of a road trip alone it teaches you a lot about who you are; This one relates a lot to #3 (your thoughts can be destructive) but really long road trips alone can tell you a lot about yourself. For example I thought I was the prime example of a positive person, but man did I go head on with my dark-side on this trip. Everyone has one and it is very likely you will meet it, if you haven’t already.

15- No one can make all the decisions for you. Only you know what will make you happy; Unknowingly everyone is influenced, maybe even just a little, by the people around you. What type of food you might eat around them, of how much you spend, or what types of places you go might change according to the people you are with. Yet when you are alone it is only you and your desires to influence you, and make the hard decisions. This is when one gets to learn about what makes them happy, and their actual desires. 

Mexico 2014 – Heartbeat

How could one put into words a trip that impacted one’s life? It is difficult to do so, but I shall try anyways.

This year was my second time going with Bayside Church to Mexico for a mission trip, but this year was FAR different from last. Both happened to be touching and eye-opening on opposite spectrums, and in opposite ways. I can’t lie, last year was irreplaceable. I mean it was the year I rededicated my life to Christ. But with all that said, this year deeply affected my character in a way that last year did not.

Most people will tell you the little niños are what impacted them the most on these sorts of trips, and normally it is true. For me though this year was different, the other high schoolers and adults impacted me more than the niños. This was shocking to me because I did not expect that to happen at all. Approaching departure day I had multiple doubts about whether or not this year would affect me in any way. I was convinced my team was filled with duds (people who had zero fire for Christ and no desire whatsoever to be friends). I drilled into my brain that the only way to not be judged by them was to be sheltered. I was scared, and told myself “everyone on your team hates you, just stay quiet”. Man oh man how reality struck me on that first 8 hour car ride. As everyone among me let their walls crumble down, I saw what truly lied beneath. My eyes saw opened and willing hearts for Christ, they saw vulnerability, but most importantly they saw a longing for love. Almost every one of my team mates was broken in a different way. Brokenness is not something that can be explained by the lips, but only by actions that paint a picture of who they truly are and what their hearts are missing. I encountered various pictures, among which nearly all managed to touch my heart and clear my blurred vision. My Impact team was full of broken people gathering together with a similar purpose, and craving for Christ. We referred to ourselves as The Band of Misfits, yes cliché I know but it fits us perfectly.

This Band of Misfits taught me numerous lessons. This Band of Misfits built me up. This Band of Misfits loved on me. This Band of Misfits changed me. There is no possible way I could thank them for everything they unknowingly did for me.

Jameson revealed to me what confidence looks like; he helped my step out and be myself in confidence.

Gabby is a true model of what it meant to be obedient to Christ in all you do. She put gasoline on the fire I had for Christ.

Alyssa showed me the importance of staying true to who you are. She is my constant reminder to not chip away who I am to mirror society.

Both Ali and Chloe were mirrors of true strength. They are perfect examples of what it means to trust Christ in everything he does and in all his plans for you.

Chris revealed to me the importance of silence. And taught me that silence creates a mood of peace and comfort, which is necessary during certain times.

Cole showed me how necessary it is to be open to new friends. He also opened my eyes to see our world is drowning in judgmental people, thus teaching me the importance of not judging others.

Blake showed me true passion and determination. I have never seen someone with such drive, especially in furthering his knowledge of Christ.

Ellie was the one person who bluntly told me I need to build more strength. Strength: to defend myself, to be able to carry others burden, and strength against the enemy. I cannot describe how overly joyed I am that she did this for me.

Although I did admit that my team impacted me more than the niños did, I never said they  have no effect on me. Two niños in particular touched me in a way they could never understand. Cesia was a 4-year-old young lady who had eyes you could get lost in. Just the sound of her laugh alone could put a smile on anyone’s face. By the third day my Impact team was on site, Cesia knew only my name and was introducing me to her mom. Just the sheer honor of her knowing only my name was touching, but her introducing me to her mom was heartwarming. Then there was Monse. Her simple, silent presence pulled me in. She was a girl of few words, yet I couldn’t find myself ever wanting her to leave my side. Luckily she never wanted to anyways. I will never forget her wrapping her arms around me, looking up with a giant smile, followed by the biggest squeeze she could give me. We broke out into laughter every time. Finally, on the second to last day she opened up to me. Monse held a full conversation with me where she told me all about herself and her family. Within that conversation alone I had watched her eyes brighten far more than they had been on any other day. Little did I know at that time, she had never spoken to anyone else on my team. To be honest I never knew how much I meant to her untill I was saying goodbye to her. While I was hugging her I looked down at the treasure chest craft she had made, surprisingly instead of looking down and seeing the chest filled with the signatures of my entire team… I looked down and saw only one signature, mine.

My favorite moment on the trip:

There were many amazing moments that I could never forget, but to be honest affirmations was by far my favorite. Pathetic, I know. We had two twins on our team, both of which gave me an affirmation. They told me how memorable I made this trip for them. Then continued to compliment my laugh saying how someone could walk into a room where I was laughing and immediately start laughing too because my laugh was so contagious. One of the twins told me that I was an example of someone who stayed positive in every situation and found happiness in the little things. Sweetly, the other told me I was one of the people who made them crave to know more about Christ. Ellie was another person who gave me an affirmation, though hers was definitely out of the ordinary. She explained that she was convinced she could not like any girls whatsoever, but I gave her hope that she can not only like but also be friends with girls again! Though Blake, Cole, and Ellie all gave me very heartfelt affirmations the one that affected me the most was the affirmation I received from our translator, Oscar. Oscar went on telling me I reminded him of his sister, explaining that compliment was the highest compliment he could give anyone. This man who had become my friend complimented me saying I was so full of happiness and life that I create a chain reaction to those around me. But lastly, to top it off he told me I helped him find his fire for Christ again, and straightened his priorities in life.

I never knew just the raw version of myself could make such an impact on those around me, even when I’m not trying to. Hearing those affirmations truly opened up my eyes to see the truth. The truth is: who I am does not matter as long as I am obedient to Christ, and as long as I have a relationship with him. How others define me lacks importance, and how they view me should not be a worry in this mind of mine. This truth has set me free.