The Most Important Lesson I’ve Learned on Remote Year

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No one signs up for a program like Remote Year anticipating tears. We apply because we’re greedy for the highs that traveling the world for a year promises. Realistically, though, there are going to be some lows and a lot of self-reflection. It’s a year-long social experiment that we voluntarily agreed to when we handed over that first $5,000.

I’m a 27-year-old independent lady. I’m true to myself and don’t shy away from letting other people know who that person is. But I’m also a sensitive person, and this year has forced me to confront my inner daemons in unanticipated ways. The particular little devil that keeps rearing its ugly head is my constant awareness of being left out. This has been the thing I’ve struggled with most on RY, but it has also turned into my most important lesson, that is: being ok with being excluded.

The root of this insecurity goes back to my childhood. The word “exclusion” was introduced to me by my mother one teary afternoon and became a constant in my...