Yes, here I am! Back in America with a fractured skull, three teeth down, metals plates in my face, and one hell of a pimp walk. If you’ve followed me on social media whatsoever, you probably already know that around my 2 year mark of traveling, I got in a motorbike, head on collision on my second day of exploring Bali, Indonesia. The accident did quite a number on me, halting my discoveries and sending me back to North Carolina where I’m trying my hardest to spot beauty in the familiar.
I’ve come to realize that the toughest part of all of this is the fact that I simply wasn’t finished. It was only the second day! When I travel, I’m not the kind of person who really plans ahead, yet the only thing I thought I knew for sure was that I was going to take full advantage of that free one month Indonesian tourist visa. I had dreams of climbing volcanoes until I reached the heavenly gates of Bali, hiking Sumatra with orangutans, biking around Lombok in search of secret beaches and Komodo dragons until I eventually hoped to catch a flight to Nepal to trek the Annapurna Circuit.
As I write this, it’s been one month since the accident and I have wanderlust butterflies like never before. It’s crazy to accept that something so serious and crazy has happened to me, I mean, renting a motorbike is the best way to explore a new place; I’ve only done it a bajillion times! One tragic moment won’t kill my meandering spirit and love for the open road (or “not-so-open-road” as my brother says)!
Now I agree, it’s totally laughable that the “everycountrysmiles” girl is grinning with a gap but let me assure you, no broken face or missing teeth can hide my happiness. No matter what your smile may look like, a smile is happiness and happiness is beautiful. I’ve come to believe it’s how easily a smile is offered is what makes it the brightest. It’s the way the world worked to allow that happiness to shine out of your faces and make the world brighter in a instant. As the story goes for me, the more innocent and unprovoked a smile is, the warmer the smile returned will be. Smiling for no reason at a complete stranger… it’s brave, and it’s beautiful. Is this true for everyone? Or just me…?
“If the whole world was blind, how many people would you impress?” – Boonaa Mohammed
Anyways, my original purpose of this post was to help people realize the beauty in all of us and to be confident in such a judgmental world. The more imperfect my smile has become, the braver I’ve had to become to share it. Smiling is a display of happiness and I have no reason to hold that back. Honestly, my goofy toothlessness may even make others laugh out loud and I’m happy to have given them that moment. That is why I’m sharing these pictures of my imperfect self. I’m thankful (and even proud) to be able to say that even after multiple fractures in my skull, shattering my teeth, chin and nose, dislocating my jaw, breaking my cheek, maxilla and knee, I still feel beautiful. My body has never felt weaker but my mind has never felt stronger. I’m thankful for this painful awakening. Sometimes I question myself, running around the world aimlessly, chasing fun, happiness and my curiosities, is this worth the time or a waste of it? The fact that I can look back at this accident and be happy at what I’ve learned, how I’ve grown and who I’ve impacted, makes me certain that I’ve been making the right decisions the whole time. I have handfuls of experiences that I’m happy to look back on and a future filled with new places and people to fall in love with. As corny as it is to say, do what makes you happy and follow your heart. It might sound reckless and wild but damn does it feel good to be the leader of the life you dream of living.
LET ME CHALLENGE YOU!:
Share your smile! Find a picture of yourself or a friend (with permission) who has gone through something tragic or tough and has come out stronger. Please email me your story or DM me @everycountrysmiles, what the experience has taught you, how you grew from it and how you hope your story can help others. I’d also like for you to fill in the blank, “___________ is beautiful.” If you have an open and mind and an optimistic view, I just might feature your picture and story via here or on the ECS Instagram. Together we can work together to build each other up, show support for one another and make every country smile that much brighter.
If you’d like to help me pay my ridiculous medical bills and get me back on the road pursing my passion please check out my gofundme campaign and donate what you can. Every penny helps.
What can I say? I’m addicted to bursting smiles, bright personalities and contagious laughter.
BRAVERY IS BEAUTIFUL.