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Wanderlust

Traveling has always been integral to my identity. By age 26, I'd visited all 50 states (plus D.C.), 3 provinces, 1 territory in Canada, and 18 countries. I planned most of my trips myself, growing steadily more confident in my abilities as I researched and booked everything, fitting the logistical pieces together like a jigsaw puzzle. By traveling alone, staying in hostels and taking public transportation, I got to meet incredible locals and fellow travelers from all over the world. I learned to appreciate new perspectives, customs, and food. I learned that I could navigate unfamiliar territory alone, and when I couldn't, there was no shame in asking for help. My parents learned to let their only child go and trust that I would be all right. As I'm writing this, the only time I've left my house in the past three months was to visit the local emergency room (twice in 15 hours) when I contracted a nasty stomach virus. I have ulcerative colitis, a condition I was diagnosed with at 20, but which has progressively worsened over the last 2.5 years. In addition to the unpleasant gastrointestinal symptoms that I'll spare you the details of, my frequent flare-ups include joint pain and debilitating fatigue. Fatigue that means my mom has to wash my hair or help me walk to the bathroom. Fatigue that means I can't plan ANYTHING because I never know when I'll be able to get out of bed. Even if I weren't fatigued, my immune system is so compromised from the disease and the treatment that exposing myself to the flu season's array of germs, simply isn't an option. I'll admit, each new flare and failed treatment makes me fear I'll never reach remission. This Wanderlust bracelet helps me remember how blessed I've been to experience so much in my short life. It helps me keep the faith that one day soon, all the prayers, treatments, and hard work will pay off. I'll get healthy and feel like myself again--physically, mentally, and emotionally. It encourages me to fight to make my future dream trips a reality.