Baby steps

I’ve been  in New Zealand for about three weeks and I’ve had the opportunity to meet some amazing people and do some fun things. Last night, however, I experienced the most meaningful interaction of my trip thus far, and I just can’t seem to get it out of my head.

I’ve been living in a homestay, and the family I’m living with has recently taken in a Japanese exchange student for two weeks. Yumi is one of the sweetest people I’ve ever met. She is so grateful to everyone and is always smiling. Her positivity is something that immediately struck me, and I knew I could learn a lot from her.

Yesterday she and I were listening to music, when out of the blue she said, “you have very clear opinions.” I was confused about the statement, so I asked her “about what?” Her response was simply “everything.” Instantly I thought it was a bad thing. I don’t want to seem domineering or like one of those people who always had to have their opinions heard. Nobody likes those people. I think she could tell by the look on my face that I didn’t know how to take it. She said “this is a very good thing. Lots of people don’t have strong ideas or opinions, and you do. You know what you want and want you don’t want. It is clear to you and to other people. This is very good. For this reason, I want to be more like you.” She went on to talk about how important it is to be your own person and having confidence in it. I was in utter shock. Just like that, I realized… oh my god, I just impacted someone’s life… and I didn’t even do anything. I was just being myself. My ridiculous, makes stupid faces, asks too many questions, and laughs a little too loudly self. I always had it in my head that in order to impact someone’s life, you had to go out of your way to do something substantial, like pay for a stranger’s meal at a restaurant, or volunteer your time at a homeless shelter.

I had never considered that the way I choose to live my life could directly impact and influence someone else’s life and how they live theirs.

Maybe this trip is more about me learning about myself than learning about the world. But hey, it’s only day 25 of this crazy adventure.