Yesterday I spent an enjoyable day reconnecting with two friends I hadn’t seen in a long time. It felt really good just talking about life in general. This summer has given me some much-needed perspective. If the biggest satisfaction I’ve gained from my year abroad is learning to be at ease with myself, then this break showed me the rich rewards of relationships. I think that developing meaningful connections and deriving positive affirmation from them is one aspect of happiness. On the other hand, I’ve discovered that joy also lies in the act of giving rather than receiving.

At the risk of sounding like a self-help guru, I want to infect those around me with my happiness and positive energy. Being in a comfortable place, I want those that I love to attain the same. I want others to look upon me with wonder and comment, ‘Where does she get her radiance from?’ I’ll tell them it’s a combination of factors- knowing what you really want, finding inner peace, developing self-esteem, being open to new experiences, nurturing relationships, and rediscovering God.

To discover God is to recognize yourself as a worthy individual placed on Earth for a purpose. People make the mistake of believing that everyone shares the same purpose- wealth, success in one’s career etc. I feel that even if one is headed towards the same goal, one has to find his or her own way instead of following that of others.

A year ago I would’ve scoffed at the idea of myself being a Christian. Oh, I certainly believed in a God, but I strongly resisted being associated with ‘those Christians’. I allowed my prejudices to colour my judgement, or rather, I allowed the behaviour of certain believers and the character of churches to mask the doctrine. I refused to cave in to peer pressure. It wasn’t so much a wilful act of rebellion but the necessity of finding my own path to God, and nothing anyone said or did was going to influence my decision.

Then ironically, while alone in a foreign land, I found myself headed to church and being strangely drawn to the words of the Bible. I wanted to study those ancient verses and uncover the inspiration beneath them. While biblical stories seemed like simplistic moral tales before, reading the text in its entirety revealed their depth. Strangely, once I returned I could not identify with the beliefs and practices of many Christians here, even though we share the same God. It certainly explained why I could never have become a Christian before, following the path set by others.