In July 2015, I traveled to Spain for a study abroad program through my university. This was my first time outside of the United States, and I had never taken a Spanish class before, so I figured that having this experience (or lack thereof) would be unique and challenging, but nothing I couldn’t handle. Boy, was I wrong.
The first two weeks in Spain sucked. No one spoke English in the city where I was studying; there weren’t any activities for us students to do; my host mom wasn’t the least bit helpful in learning the culture; and this was the first time in a long time where I couldn’t go do whatever I wanted when I wanted. It was like moving to a brand new city where you knew no one, and you end up living with complete strangers who told you what to do.
To say it was not fun would be an understatement. The first few days were the worst because that was when the differences in ways of living were the most apparent. It was also when I realized I missed home the most. I called my dad as much as I possibly could (I didn’t have data so I could only call when I had WiFi) and he continuously encouraged me, reminding me that things would eventually get better.
Thankfully, he was right. I did eventually learn enough Spanish to speak a little to my host mom, and I technically got into better shape from all of the walking around I did looking for ways to keep myself busy, so there were definitely positives to my trip.
I felt spoiled because I was having an opportunity of a lifetime and couldn’t enjoy it; I felt overjoyed when I learned how to cook some authentic Spanish food; I felt alone because there was times where I just wanted to text my friends and couldn’t; I felt great when I understood the information in my Spanish class…you get the idea.
But each day I had one goal: just make it through. At night, when I was reflecting on my day, I would take in all that occurred throughout the day and make it a point to appreciate everything that happened, both the good and the bad.
Every moment taught me something new about myself when I handled difficult situations. I also discovered how vital the other students in my program were because whenever I was feeling down I could always go talk to one of them about my problems, and they too could use me as a way to express any struggles they were facing. That sense of community meant so much.
Each day was needed in order for me to make it through to the end. (I mean, it was literally the only way to make it.) But, each day was also just one day that added value to my life.
As a 23 year old, I have lived a lot of days, but those 30 days abroad really taught me one of the best life concepts: the power of one. I heard so much about ‘the power of one’ when I was in high school and college, but never really thought it could be applied to the ‘power of one day’ too.
Each ‘one day’ defines who we are as a person, and I believe that is what leads to the true meaning of ‘the power of one.’ It is incredible to think that there is literally no one else in the entire world like me. There might be someone who looks like me or acts like me, but there is not another person that is me. Of the seven billion people in the world, I am the only me.
There may be traits or talents I have in common with other people, examples being that I share the same physical qualities as thousands of people in the world (Caucasian, male, 5’10”, brown hair, blue eyes, etc.) and I share the same interests as a ton of people (tennis, traveling, cheesecake, etc.), but no one in the world has all of the same exact qualities as me. When you put every little detail about me together I am the only person who fits the description.
And, because of this simple concept, I automatically add value to the world that no one else can. How cool is that? My purpose is irreplaceable. No one – not a single person – can do all the things that I can do or am capable of doing. I am the only person on Earth that is supposed to do whatever I am supposed to do. But, what am I supposed to do? Great question.
That’s the funny thing about life – the only way to know your purpose is by living your life, and to live your life means to take lit one day at a time. All of the days we live teach us more about who we are, what are strengths and weaknesses are, and what we are interested in.
Even though my days in Spain weren’t technically the absolute best ones, they brought me to a new understanding of who I am as a person and contributor to this world. And, even though I don’t think my purpose was defined during my trip either, it sure did help me figure out how strong I really am.
Your actions and the people you surround yourself with define your days, and your days define who you are and what you are meant to do. We need you in order to make the world a better place. Even when you have 30 days where you feel like you aren’t making a difference and you are just trying to get by like I did, know that those days are designed to add value to your ultimate purpose. Use your friends and family as resources to maintain a healthy mindset about the power you can make.
No, it is not easy to comprehend all the time, but it is the truth. I am still developing this idea and would love to one day (ha, get it – one day) share it with more people. I truly want everyone to know how powerful they are. Who would have thought that my days in Spain would have taught me more than Spanish 101?