sailing on

jardin des tuileries

I woke up realizing I left Paris four years ago. Four years. A (college) lifetime. Has much changed? After several solo trips abroad, my first job, and making my first apartment into a home, I feel like many things have changed. Yet many of the realizations I had that summer are still the same. Still confident yet terrified. Still alone but not lonely. Still a firm believer in the kindness of strangers. 

Since then, I’ve kept the Paris dream alive by visiting every year and taking several French classes to improve my language skills. While I still don’t know what’s next, I’m still optimistic as ever. 

fear is a choice

paris - lesley siu

Total girl moment: I’m writing about my feelings.

As I begin this Parisian journey, I can’t help but wonder… What really made me do it?

In college, everyone is in the same boat: celebrating newfound freedom, choosing a major, going through the motions of getting a degree. You meet people on campus, and you can relate to all of your friends.

But after college, no one holds your hand. No one tells you what to do or where to go. There isn’t a set path you have to follow.

Graduating is only scary if you don’t have faith in yourself. We all go through those “What am I doing with my life?” moments—it doesn’t matter if you have a job, the highest GPA or a 5-year plan. For the first time, you’re truly on your own to figure things out. And it’s totally okay. Whether you want to jump into an entry-level position, see the world, start a family or continue your education, it’s up to you.

I chose to travel. I’d say I can’t believe I’m here, but I can. I wasn’t influenced by a book, movie or tv show. No one in my family has even been out of the country. I’m not following anyone or searching for anything. I made this choice on my own.

Don’t get me wrong—I’m not saying you should drop everything and blow your savings on a huge apartment, a brand new car or a trip abroad like mine. Life is about taking calculated risks. It’s about setting goals, working hard and learning along the way. It’s experiences that shape who we are.

When I was 4, I shed my training wheels and taught myself how to ride a bike. In a world full of pessimism and doubt, motivation is a tricky thing. As cheesy as it sounds, self-motivation keeps me going. If you don’t challenge and believe in yourself, who will?

I’m grateful to have been engulfed with encouragement throughout my school years.

Reach for the stars.
Go for the gold.
You can do it.

Now that I’ve graduated, is it any different? Sometimes, we succumb to external factors and lose sight of what we want. Boarding the plane, I didn’t have any regrets… I did have a lingering sense of doubt. But fear is a choice. By going on this adventure, I’m proving to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to. I know the world doesn’t revolve around me, but seeing it gives me an open mind.

So, what’s holding you back from reaching your goals? Fear, finances, friends? Pinpoint the problem, and tackle it.*

Shed your training wheels.
You can do it.

*Don’t tackle your friends.