I found this shell while walking along the beach in front of Vel Mari. I thought about keeping it as a reminder of this trip, but I thought of a better purpose for this shell. I decided this would be a great opportunity to take this time to reflect on all of the new opportunities I have been a part of by overcoming fears. Fears of meeting new people, fears of being misunderstood, fears of being called too sensitive or too emotional. I also took time to reflect on all the fears many have overcome with those involved in this program. It is so easy to just focus on myself, but everyone was a part of this achievement. Everyone in some shape or form is a champion of their fear(s). Flying across a whole continent and a massive body of water to be where we are is a big deal in itself. I am so proud of the growth we all have made. I saw so many moments where individuals poured out their stories and through the pain, were able to connect. Seeing everyone smile and take the leap of faith gave me courage to be boundless.
I continued to walk along the beach with this shell.
Before long I had a pile of shells. I gave each shell one of my struggles or fears in my life and decided that holding on to these would only hold me back. I closed my eyes as I said goodbye to each one of them and threw them back into the ocean.
I brushed the dirt off my hands and turned back to face the party. Everyone was laughing and dancing. Everything felt right. At that moment I didn't feel sad at all. In a few days I'll be with my family...I met amazing people in Alghero and had amazing experiences with them that I won't be too sad leaving. Of course I'll miss them dearly, but I won't have any regrets.
We cannot help another until we help ourselves. I am ready to love myself and be happy. It's all we can do in life. All the terrible things that happen, try to find happiness - your happiness, wherever you are.
Melissa Centeno Martinez