There are parts of you waiting in different countries, on certain continents, at jobs and in organizations. You must listen to each and every call to go somewhere and do something. That is you calling you to yourself. If you ignore any call, you will wake up decades from now (or even years … maybe even months) and find that part of you is missing. You will try and find it in people and you will search all of yourself trying to figure it out and then you will give up and say oh well. Don’t say oh well now. Don’t say oh well later. Take note of where the call is coming from and follow it. Follow it immediately or follow it later when you realize you are not whole because of it. Whatever you do – make sure that you listen and obey. No matter what. No excuses.

I know that’s easy for me to say as an Opportunity Program student with a full ride. The opportunities and experiences that I am allowed to have are not necessarily a given. I understand that money is real and going places requires real money. I understand that sacrifices need to be made. I wouldn’t be here if sacrifices weren’t made. What I do believe, without a doubt, is that God will not call you anywhere He will not provide for you to go. I don’t care if you are just as poor as me or poorer than me or if you have no scholarship or a partial scholarship – it doesn’t matter. (How you gone say it don’t matter, Bri, when you just said you know money is real). It’s because I know that God is. I know, from experience, that God is more powerful than money. I know, from experience, that no matter who you are or where you come from or how much you don’t have, God will make a way to get you to where He wants you to be. This is not idealization talking, this is not romanticization talking, this is not privilege talking. This is a dire urge for you to reach out for and grab what is waiting for you – without excuse, without fear, without worry. If you hear the call, don’t worry how you’ll make it there – just answer and say “yes” and you’ll see it come to pass.

I said yes. I followed the call to Australia and found my confidence, faith, healing, openness, forgiveness, cleansing, security, and ability to receive. I honestly believe that if I’d missed out on that calling, I’d have missed out on the me that I came into contact with here in Melbourne.

Study abroad is not just about studying (although I love study very much). I have found myself most during a bush dance I (at first) was reluctant to go to, but which I couldn’t stop smiling at. I’ve found myself on girls’ day struggling to climb a tree. I recognized myself during 2 hour long dinners with mostly strangers. I come into contact with the me who called me here when I have freshly squeezed orange juice for the first time and make pancakes at a friends house and see beaches that take my breath away and have photo shoots at church and eat Greek food and Somalian food and Korean food and Ghanian food and Pilipino food and go to conferences and album release parties and host sleepovers.

I have seen myself reflected in the way that people halfway across the world crave hip hop and popular culture – created by people who look like me. I have better understood how powerful a smile is (once again) when I smile at people and they smile back. I have met myself being single (really for the first time in a long time) and cooking alone in my apartment, listening to music, and being overfull of joy and peace. I found myself walking this city like I’ve lived here my whole life, leading someone (who has lived here their whole life) to familiarity (using my handy building landmarks).

I have cried tears I didn’t know I had and laughed with such warmth that I wasn’t sure I had access to anymore.

I didn’t know I’d be here now. I didn’t know when I got here all I’d do. Though I am a writer and it’s my one and only job to put into words how I feel – all I can write is that it feels like being born again with memory of my old self without the weight or pain of who I was before. I will hate to leave this place and these people I have grown to care so deeply for. I know, because of this place, that leaving sometimes is necessary for discovering the parts of yourself that will, in the end, make you whole.

Piece by piece – I am becoming. More than my dreams (and the dreams of those before me) being realized, I am realizing myself. It isn’t my dreams that those before me sacrificed for – it was for me to become. The dreams are a mere result of my daring to be who I am. Grandpa says to say “I am welcomed no matter where I am”. Align yourself with yourself and find the strength, power, and courage to come fully into yourself. Know and say to yourself, in your own words and your own way, “I came to Australia and didn’t know that I’d be able to walk into any room and know that I am welcomed, because I know who I am – and now I can walk into any room and know that I am welcomed, because I know who I am, because I followed my voice calling me here to let me know. I won’t ever forget.