Summer 2011: A crash course in self-discovery

20 Aug

Last summer literally changed my life.  QLQ’s maiden voyage to the Dominican Republic and the genuine love with which we were received changed my outlook on people, the world, & my personal life goals.   Follow that with the door-to-door salesman life of Southwestern: we called ourselves “Book people” because of the 20lb bags of educational books we lugged around from house to house for 80 hours a day.  2 months, 2000 families, countless blue light specials, and more life experience than I bargained for later, and all the friends I ran into back home had the same verdict:

“You know, you’re alot different than last year.”

“Have I lost weight?  Umm… I cut my hair, are my new found devilishly good looks throwing you off?”

“No.  Seriously.  You’re alot different… Don’t get me wrong.  It’s a good different.”

Well.  Turns out they’re right.  As comfortable as those Huggies were, I graduated into big boy undies.

This time around, I want to articulate what I think I’ve learned since I seem to have a gift for learning the same things over and over again.  And again.  And again.  At least it’s a good laugh each time.

5) Me time (even for extroverts!).  I get excited for bus rides.  Seriously.  This may be a side effect of a mental disability caused by the mind-rattling 96 hours of public buses I’ve taken in a 2 months span, but I look forward to the chance to enjoy the countryside of a country and just think.  Life in the states–now in university here too–is so fast we never have time to simply chill out and reflect on our own thoughts.  Everything’s GO! Go! GO!  And we’re too caught up in the system and pressures inherent in our lives to notice when something is genuinely wrong.  “Me time” is getting a little jealous of “go out and achieve goals and accomplish things and stuff and work alot and check things off lists time”.  Don’t get me wrong, aspects of a purposeful driven life are essential to reaching a sense of fulfillment– as long as they don’t rule my life.

Some clear their heads with mind-boggling yoga positions, some smoke illicit substances, some cook delicious goodies and choose to share the love; I take chicken-buses across borders.  To each his own.

4) Being a little kid.  They have it so great!  Everything is new.  Everything is amazing.  Every walk down the street is filled with a new adventure & their facial expressions rotate like a broken record between Surprised, Amazed, & Happy.   And, yes, I’m choosing to leave out all recollection of bratty little kids; they’re not nearly as much fun.  I can’t remember having a day this summer that wasn’t amazing when I woke up loving everything around me and thinking, “Damn, I’m lucky to be here.”  Genuine appreciation for the world goes a long way to putting a radiant smile where it belongs.  Which brings me to the next one…

3) Gratefulness.  There’s SO MUCH I’ve personally taken for granted growing up in the states.  The opportunities we’re born with and don’t ever give a second thought to are mind blowing if you sit down and think about them: freedom of speech, quality education, reliable power & water.  I could go on with the endless list of things we take for granted that are scarcely seen in this world, but I’d rather mention an under-appreciated right we never think about.  The Passport.  Did you know that if you life outside Western Europe, Brazil, Argentina, Chile, the US, Canada, Australia, and Japan you have to apply for a Visa, wait a few months, fork over a few hundred dollars, and cross your fingers in order to travel to a foreign country.  Now imagine trying to travel to 8 countries.  That’s at least a grand and a few bottles of advil that never crosses the minds of privileged citizens of our beloved US of A.  We are born with the right to see the world.  In essence, the world is our playground while other kids have to ask mommy for a permission slips and call little Jimmy’s parents to come out and play.

I don’t know where this brings your thinking, but I wake up each day grateful for everything and trying to share this feeling of gratitude with everyone I meet.

2) Worries.  There are very few things in this world actually worth getting upset over.

For example, I gifted a gentleman in Nicaragua who’s life has taken some wrong turns one hell of a $400 shopping spree, then my bank decided to give me $550 a week later.  The “street name” for this phenomenon is Credit Card Theft; I like to call it a unintentional act of kindness.

Also I’ve learned to never complain or criticize unless there’s something you can do or offer some sort of way to better the situation.  Life is too wonderful to spend it worrying about things, circumstance, or what others do as long as personal dignity isn’t infringed upon.

Malesh.  Hakuna Matata.  No worries.  Tranquilo.  ¡Pura Vida!

1) Passion.  Regardless of hardships, circumstances, and anything I’ve experienced thus far in life, I’m unconditionally and genuinely content when I have a purpose.  Sometimes that takes the form of a simple goal, other times it’s a life consuming project for a brief period.  Without some sort of defined purpose I’m like a zombie going through the motions of normal people life, and it’s when I start doing normal things that I stray away from happiness.  While I haven’t found something that grabs me enough to dedicate my whole self to a project or cause, I’m anxiously awaiting the day when I find this passion.  Don’t be surprised if it takes the form of Social Entrepreneurship; it gets me as giddy as a gradeschooler on a field trip.

On a side note, reading for fun is AWESOME.  I’m officially a book devourer-er now and newly appointed disciple of Herman Hesse’s Siddhartha.  The 3rd time might even be better than the first- It’s hard to put down a book that makes you smile for days after reading each chapter.




6 Responses to “Summer 2011: A crash course in self-discovery”

  1. hormiga33 August 20, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Don’t ever stop searching Kev. Your purpose will call out to you when you’re ready. And keep up the good work. I rather really admire your writing.


    • kmmille4 August 21, 2011 at 7:23 pm #


      Man, you have no idea what that means coming from you. I admire your drive to go and *be different* after a stint in the real world. That critical decision has to be infinitely times more difficult than my non-conformity as a college kid.

      Keep being your awesome self anthony.

      Cheers, Kevin

  2. Matthew Miller August 20, 2011 at 7:32 pm #

    Hey Kevin – I’ve learned over the years that humility and gratitude are the keys to a happy and meaningful life. It sounds like you are learning this at a much younger age than me. Keep following what you’re passionate about. God has a purpose in everything and a plan for everyone. I’m certain he has big plans for you! –Uncle Matt

    • kmmille4 August 21, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

      Uncle Matt,

      Thanks! I feel lucky to have been though experiences that somehow conveyed those values through my thick head.

      I can’t wait to catch up with you and the rest of the Houston family!

      Abrazos, Kevin

  3. Jessica Neville August 21, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    This is so insightful Kevin. Funny how we learned many of the same things in South American and in Raleigh…it’s a small world, after all.

    Btw, this reading for fun thing sounds like something I’m definitely going to have to check out 😉


    • kmmille4 August 21, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

      Thank you jess!!! That means so much coming from you– the accomplished writer, stud of a Caldwell, and baller in life.

      Small world is right. It seems like everyone has their best situation to learn the same lessons. Yours a lab researching god knows what cure to the world & mine exploring latin america. Funny

      HAHA! Really? No way… 😉

      much love, Kevin

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