In my lifetime, I have been to 31 countries across three continents, over 500 cities, approximately 30 islands, 1 US territory known as Puerto Rico, and 1 UK territory otherwise known as Northern Ireland.
I’ve hiked in the Rockies, the Himalayas, the Alps (Tyrol baby, hells yeah), the Catskills, and the Appalachians. I have basked in the suns of the Andaman, the Mediterranean, the Aegean, the Caribbean, the North Sea, the Bay of Bengal, the Arabian Gulf, the Indian Ocean, the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico, Long Island Sound, and of course, the Atlantic Ocean. I have marveled at the sun rising over the Arctic Pole and over Mount Everest, been horrified by the airport staff at Frankfurt, been amazed by Singapore Airlines’ in flight food and Emirates’ entertainment, seen the clouds rolling in under the Burj, watched turtles nesting on an empty beach in a completely uninhabited island off the coast of Culebra, went to Dracula’s castle in Transylvania for Halloween, carried a python around my neck in Mussoorie, nestled a bald eagle on my arm in Colorado, figured out how to avoid ferrets in Brooklyn, and walked the South Rim of the Grand Canyon.
I have danced the night away in Phi Phi, and watched blue crabs scurrying over the water in the early morning in Koh Lanta. I have sat in jacuzzis with celebrities at 3 AM in Mumbai, watched the sunset at the Acropolis, gotten lost in the Vatican, and learned how to make pasta from scratch while couch surfing in Milan. I have almost been shot by hunters in Innsbruck, and was impressed by the buses at the border of Monaco and Nice, tested all boundaries of my limitations with normalcy, eaten delectable food in Siem Reap, taken train rides from hell, tuk tuk rides where I was thrown off, had two passports stolen, and yet I have grown to trust strangers in a way I never thought would be possible when I let go of my reservations at the beginning of my journey.
Additionally, I interviewed over 500 UNICEF beneficiaries in some of the most astonishingly impoverished regions of the world, speaking to them on issues of child marriage, child labor, HIV, nutrition, and corporal punishment, and reporting on these for impactful communications about human rights topics that really matter. I also got an MA in International Relations from a reputable European institution during this time, although I could have done without the neo-Nazi logics currently on the rise in Budapest.
Why do I tell you this?
Because 7 years ago, about only 9 countries covered in the first 24 years of my life, I had an accident.
The doctors said I was lucky not to break my neck during the nasty fall I took, although the 11 recuperative surgeries and 243 stitches over the next three years felt like anything but lucky.
At the end of those three years, I left New York- not because I don’t love the city, but because it’s true- NYC hardens you. Leaving the city is the best decision I’ve ever made. It led me to other adventures, none of which would have happened had I decided to stay in my comfort zone.
What I have learned can be summed up in just a few lines: just remember that every dog has their day, and if you haven’t had yours yet, you will, one day, as long as you remain open to the possibilities, because you’re whatever you want to be. Don’t ever forget that.
And if you’re even remotely jealous of me, then just think of the me 7 years ago, with my face and chin disfigured with scars. It could happen to anyone, so it’s important to seize the day. You will never be worse off for doing thus.