Times are changing

sun, rydellWhy is it that I look at my life and see something lacking? For a girl of 21 years of age, I have had an incredible life; all the friends I have made, the places I have seen, the people who I have loved and who have returned that love. I was born in Africa for goodness sake, and having that experience, even if I was only 4 years old when we left, changed me for the better and made me who I am. I’ve spent my entire life hanging out with international students, meeting people from all over the world who teach me their culture and call me their friend. How blessed am I? And those international students, my friends, are still my friends from years and years ago, relationships that will last a life time. They taught me to be non-judgmental, welcoming, easygoing, and confident. I’ve learned to love spicy, sweet, even raw food and I have thoroughly enjoyed all the cultures I have learned about. More importantly, I have always loved creating friendships with people of so many different colors, beliefs, and habits. I may have lost some good friends in my life time, but I have kept so many. And they always do something to show me they care and love me, yet I doubt some times? Why is that? Why can’t I look at my life and see how wonderful it is?
My parents are loving, kind, and I spend almost every night with them watching a movie because I absolutely adore doing so. They are my friends as well as my advisors and parents. They’ve taught me to serve others, to be humble, to stand up for what I believe in, and be myself. They love me unconditionally and they support me in everything I do. I have a wonderful brother, who is fun and talented and absolutely amazingly smart. I have a brother who actually wants to be my friend and hang out with me and teaches me daily more about literature and movies than I could ever learn on my own. I have an inspiring sister who fights for what is right in this world. She is my hero and she is often the reason why I get through a lot of problems in my life because she gives me advice on how to deal with them. She is hilarious and fun and I am proud to say she is one of my best friends.
I have a wonderful church that teaches me so much and got me started with helping out with children. My bible study group is my family, truly, even if I had a hard time realizing it. They make me laugh, they pray for me, they compliment my brownies, they listen, they talk, we serve together, they fill up my Wednesday nights with so much joy. They help me grow in my faith and encourage me on the path towards Christ, who is my best friend, father, guide, and savior.

I live in Arizona, a beautiful, unique state. It has such incredible history, with famous stories of gunslingers and Native Americans. It’s hot there, but I love it!!!! The heat in Arizona is like a welcoming oven whenever you return to it from a faraway place. Its beauty surpasses most places I have been, the beauty of the desert, the sunset and sunrises, the cacti standing proudly, the barren landscape with red rock and sand, Arizona. And it is such a diverse state, with forest and so many other climates. The people in Arizona are so easygoing and friendly. I never feel unwelcomed anywhere and I find a smiling face behind almost every counter and everyone is good at joking and has a positive attitude. I’ve enjoyed great schools, great teachers, teachers who have treated me well, encouraged, and motivated me, who have taught me so much, I wish I could say thank you again and again. I love Arizona and I am fiercely proud of it.
I have been able to volunteer at the Phoenix zoo for the past 6 years, 6 wonderful, exciting, challenging years. The Phoenix Zoo is a zoo that trumps all other zoos. It balances its goal to educate and “entertain” guests with treating their animals well by giving them great exhibits, behavioral enrichment, and attention. The conservation effort there is all towards native animals and I have been able to take part in that! The people, every single person that has worked there, are incredibly friendly and kind. I have never not gotten along with someone who works at the zoo, the staff are fun and crazy and inspiring. Most importantly are all the zoo teens I have worked with. From when I was a zoo teen to now as a zoo teen supervisor, I have always felt so at home with them. I have made so many friends who share the same passions as I do and let me freely be who I am. I’ve never had more fun than when I am with zoo teens. They teach me so much too and they respect me as I respect them. I am also so thankful for all the animal experience I have gotten at the zoo. I’ve been able to hold snakes, lizards, amphibians, skinks, turtles and tortoises. I’ve gotten to feed a komodo dragon, pet a baby komodo dragon, feed the giant tortoises (the best animals in the world) every Saturday, feed an elephant, watch an elephant get a foot bath, I’ve been able to take care of all these amazing creatures and I should never look back and think I missed out.
I got to go to Nova Scotia and study mammals for goodness sake!!! How many people can say they went to Canada to study mammals with actual scientists studying climate change? I got to experience the most beautiful place I have been to, a different beautiful than desert, green, lush, water everywhere, rocky beaches, wildlife all over the place. And the people I bonded with their, my friends, they were all so welcoming and free. We ate ice cream and played telephone every night. We all worked hard together to better the world. We sang and danced and there was never any judging. Even now, as I am writing this, I am participating in an internship. It is an internship that isn’t quite giving me the experience I want, but I am still beyond blessed to be here, to meet the other interns, to LIVE at a wildlife refuge and get to wake up to green and lake every morning. All I have to do is step out my door to nature and wildlife. It might be tough at times but I am still blessed to have this opportunity.

So, why do I compare myself to others or want what others have? Would I seriously trade any of the above for something someone else has experienced or owns? There is no way I would. How could I trade all those incredible memories and lessons? I might not be good at lifting things, hooking up trailers, driving ATV’s, reading maps, but I am brilliant at other things. I can keep a group of kids entertained for an entire day and have them want to hang out with me still at the end of it. I can present a python to an entire group of strangers, or put a Madagascar Hissing Cockroach on my shirt and talk about how cute and awesome it is. I can write a 10 page paper on a classic novel and get an A and enjoy writing it. I can write a novel of my own working that is over 200 pages long. I am a loyal and loving friend who sticks by you always. I am funny. I am smart. I have my talents and my weaknesses. I have my faith in God which defines me completely and fully. I may have hard times, I may fail, I may not be as good at some things as others are, but I should never look at my life and myself and think I need what they have or that I am lacking in anyway.

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