You don’t know until you go: home is wherever you are

| December 13, 2013 | 0 Comments
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The Christmas tree in Piazza del Duomo in Milan, Italy. Photo by Ryan Hess

It’s Christmas time in Italy. The largest tree I have ever seen was placed in Piazza del Duomo by crane; she’s now receiving her strands of lightwork.

There are so many red tents wrapping around the cathedral as Christmas markets take over Milan.

Walking to school is now an event in and of itself.

As sneaky as the Italian Mafia, lights and decorations are popping up all around the city—some entire buildings have been gift-wrapped.

The lights won’t be turned on until Milan “officially” starts celebrating the holiday cheer in a few days. Anticipation builds.

It’s that waiting-to-open-presents excitement all over again. For the first time, however, I’ll be spending the holidays abroad.

Despite the distance, I won’t be alone. I’m headed to Lago di Como to celebrate Christmas with a big Italian family and hitching a ride to Rome for New Year’s Eve.

Still, the distance has me thinking.

I’m awfully grateful for this opportunity, and with my last month upon me, I can’t help but thank everyone who managed to make this dream a reality.

That theme overall keeps coming back to me: the people around you make your dreams happen.

If you’re looking for an opportunity, it’s not just you. It’s not just “hustle.” Whether it’s an internship or a dream job, an opportunity is found in a person. And for those starry points to align, there’s a warmth that you need to share first—in being vulnerable and open, in accepting the love and opportunity that your life deserves.

We get so worked up over the holidays with wanting, with perfecting, with resolution-ing. Try giving out more love than you could possibly receive back.

Open up more hearts than presents (this is metaphorical, nursing major).

I marvel at how aware we need to be, in how awareness makes our lives joyful.

Dreams, opportunities, moments; your whole life will pass you by if you don’t slow down from your day-to-day rushing.

If there’s anything I’ve learned from the Italians, it’s that your accomplishments do not make you who you are—your relationships do.

Every person you’ve interacted with has made a mark on you, no matter how small.

Perhaps, this holiday season, it’s time to refine the signature you leave on everyone’s heart.

This series was never about travel. You don’t have to travel to change who you are. You can change whenever you’d like, and it’s not too late.

If you’re lost on where to start, perhaps take an unsexy step toward a big and scary dream, or remove what isn’t working, or practice awareness and gratitude this holiday season.

You’ve got everything to need to love right here—beating behind 24 ribs.

You’ll rarely regret living right here—in being grateful. Suddenly, the future takes of itself when you‘re aware of the here and now.

Look around you. Take in your friends, your family, Charlotte, your hometown. Take all that love in and reflect it right back, greater.

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Category:Columns, You don't know until you go

Ryan Hess Ryan's a writer currently studying abroad in Milan, Italy. Through everything, he tries to stay on the good side of Lady Fortuna. Try as he might, things usually go awry. His series collect those moments and lessons.

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Ryan Hess Ryan's a writer currently studying abroad in Milan, Italy. Through everything, he tries to stay on the good side of Lady Fortuna. Try as he might, things usually go awry. His series collect those moments and lessons.

Twitter