My flight leaves in less than 10 hours. While there are thousands of things I *could* do before I take off, all that is really left to do is zip up my suitcase, say a few more goodbyes, and board the plane.

When it comes to the practical things to prepare, I’m totally set to go (I think).  I’ve done all the paperwork, gotten all the shots, bought all the bug spray.  Cuso has given me helpful instructions for all the placement-related things (like the 5 notarized references I need to bring to open a bank account), and friends and family have helpfully advised on house insurance, choosing an executor for my will, where to buy the best/least expensive mosquito net, and their preferred method of contact (Skype, FaceTime, Whatsapp, e-mail…) for staying in touch.  If there is something I missed, it can’t possibly be that important.

There is, however, no advice or checklist that can guide how I should face the emotional aspect of leaving my home and loved ones for a year.  While I am gone, my sister will likely move apartments and two of my dearest friends will have their first baby.  My parents will enjoy another glorious summer in my childhood home.  My boyfriend will have a tumultuous (but hopefully fulfilling) year at work.  Strangers will live in my sweet little apartment for longer than I have.  Countless other things I can’t even imagine – both good and bad – will take place, and I won’t be there to laugh and cry, celebrate and mourn along with my loved ones.  Missing out on so many things can be a hard pill to swallow and is one of the only reasons I can think of not to go.

Which actually makes it easier to leave.  When love and friendship protect your heart, it is incredibly easy to be brave. Friends and family have shown me throughout my preparations that I am supported by their love no matter where I am or what I do. I’ve been overwhelmed by the kind words, cheers, and helpfulness of those around me. My heart is truly full of gratitude for their kindness.  If that kind of encouragement doesn’t make you think you can take on the world…

This isn’t the first time I’ve gone away, so I know first hand that, while things will change while I am gone, the parts that are good and true will stand the test of time. So even though it is hard to walk away from a whole year of life with the people that matter most to me, I am excited to go, do this work, and make them proud.

I’m as ready as I will ever be.

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