what I wore to Sullivan's Island

Six months in South Carolina. I not only survived, I gained a deeper understanding of this place, its people, and their culture. I enjoyed myself. I fell in love with Charleston. One might say I even thrived here. Who would have thought? Not me. I would never have guessed.

Guys, I dreaded coming here. Probably because I wasn't sure at the time whether leaving Laos was right or wrong. I just took my instinct and ran with it.

I didn't know what my future looked like if it didn't look like Laos. 

It turns out, I was not only right about Laos and leaving, I was right about all my instincts. I'll always want to be in Laos, like I'll always long for New Zealand. But it was right to go when I did. 

Of course, I had some ideas for myself. Ways I knew I'd fill up my time and better myself. Improve certain already acquired skills. To get my full TEFL. To finish my grad work. To travel stateside.  I kept myself busy with workouts and Poppy snuggles and Skype dates. I've traveled and road-tripped around the Southeast United States. I've flown to Washington. I've even stopped by Rapid City and gave St. Louis a try. And all of it has been a blessing. 

But more than any of those fun experiences, more than keeping myself moving in some direction, I wanted to give myself something I never have before-- time. 

I've written extensively about Charleston both on this blog and in my own journal. I've documented my affections for the city, guides for how to eat your way through it and things to do on a visit. I've shared the outfits I've worn while exploring Charleston, the hard bits of life that include letting go of what you expect for the better things that are inevitably waiting, the frustrations of learning patience. I think I've covered it. So, it's probably time to wrap it up, huh?

In the last week, something inside me has changed. Like a switch has been flicked. That new feeling I mentioned? I felt it abruptly. I felt ready all of a sudden. An epiphany, of sorts. Like I'd taken time for myself, actual fucking time, and I was truly ready. I've been traveling my entire life. With family, friends, and alone. It can make a girl weary after a while. Moving from place to place. Traveling leisurely or starting a life someplace new-- whatever the case has been {and they have varied}, there comes a point when a person has to stop for a moment and reevaluate everything. The people and things I love. What I want to accomplish. What I want my 'legacy' to be. What leaving meant for my career path trajectory {turns out, it wasn't such an end-of-the-world thing}. These are all things I've been thinking about while I've been planning and saving. I've been thinking about all of that... 

...for six months.

But all that thinking has led to my breakthrough. I worked my ass off, put together a plan, and, in this last week, I've felt a shedding of old skin. I feel like I've sunken deeper into the woman I want to be. South Carolina has given me the time I needed to do that deep sinking.  

What I feel like I've gained is true confidence. Not the shallow 'I feel confident in myself' half-truth. Real confidence. I've let go of everything {and everyone} that doesn't add to that confidence. I'm not the same girl who shook a man's hand in the most awkward moment of her whole life, then beat herself up about it. I'm not the same girl that made decisions hoping they'd make something impossible from the start easier. I'm not the same girl who feels too much or the girl who fights the timing of her own destiny anymore. I needed time. 

South Carolina gave me time. 

So, what lies ahead? I can't think of a better way to move farther into this new feeling, than by exploring it somewhere new and exciting {or lots of 'somewheres'}. I'm not the girl who dips her feet into a pool. I dive right in. Full force, total body, enveloping myself. 

In that spirit, I am headed to Cuba for almost a full week of adventuring. A place that's been on my bucket list since before Americans were even legally allowed to travel there. I could not be more excited. It's the perfect start to everything that's coming the rest of this year and into the next. A new travel destination, a tick off 'the list', and living out a dream. I've been binge-listening to the Dirty Dancing 2: Havana Nights soundtrack {go watch the movie as a tribute to Diego Luna, not a cinematic work of art} to set the tone for a shimmy-shimmy trip to Cuba. 

Where after Cuba? London. And where from London? Berlin to visit my brother, Bastian. And after Berlin? More of Europe. Some old faves and a few new countries for good measure. But what about after Europe?!?!

Well, I'd tell you...

...but what would the fun in that be? ;) 

dress: {super old} FreePeople / sliders: c/o F21 / sunnies: H&M / watch: vintage Casio / earrings: c/o Rocksbox {use the code: sillylittletaraxoxo for a FREE month of jewelry!}

I have to thank my mother. She's been a true travel buddy and has encouraged me to follow my big plans. She also let me live in my parents' home these last six months, forcing her to buy kale and getting her hooked on The Handmaid's Tale. Thanks, Beej. You the real deal.