Growing up, I used to be told “A lot can happen in 10 years.” Then it got knocked down to “A lot can happen in 5 years.” But nowadays, it seems like a lot can happen even in the next two years. Especially now that I’m out of college and on my own, it seems like anything can happen, and my whole life could change in the next 24 months. Who knows if I’ll still be in Raleigh, or what I’ll even be doing.

This past year has been pretty bitter-sweet for me. It’s been nice to be out of college, away from the all-nighters and ridiculous homework assignments, but I also miss not having classes on Fridays and the perks of student discounts. It’s also been bittersweet because even thought it’s been great to have most of my college friends still in the area, we all know that this won’t be the case forever. For a lot of us, this year is a transition year. It’s a year for us to step back from the college lifestyle we’ve grown accustomed to for the past 4 years, and try to figure out the next stage of our lives. Some are more along in the process than others, and the reality of their decisions have been pretty tough to swallow.

In particular, my friends Paul and Maggie have been accepted into the Peace Corps, and will both be heading to Africa this year. While I still have about 3 months left with Maggie, Paul heads out to Madagascar on Sunday.

Even though I’ve known about his plans to go into the Peace Corps for a while, the “oh s!@#, you’re leaving for almost 3 years” factor is finally registering with me. 2.5 years of literally being cut off from your life in the States, can’t be an easy thing to wrap your head around and might even make you freak out a bit. To be placed in a completely different culture, with a different govt, type of currency, different food, living arrangements, neighbors, etc. etc. for such a long period of time has got to be life-altering. I can’t imagine how all the mixed emotions of excitement, happiness, nervousness, and a little bit of fear this kind of realization could put on someone.

I have no doubt that Paul is going to excel in Madagascar, and make his village a better place in the end. I have no doubt that he will settle in well with his people and make amazing, lifelong relationships. I have no doubt that he will live this opportunity to the fullest, and be appreciative of what he’s been given. He is the perfect guy for this type of journey, and I am proud of him for wanting to go through with it.

But I can’t help but wonder what it’s going to be like in 2013. We keep making jokes with him about how I’ll be a millionaire by the time he gets back, or how  technology will be so advanced that he won’t know what to do with himself, but really….things will be really different in 2013. But through all the worries of where people will be when he gets back, or what new obstacles we’ll come across, I know that no matter what, we’ll always be friends. And that’s really all that matters.

So to Paul, best of luck my friend. Your courage and selfless attitude is inspiring not only to me, but to all of your friends and family. You have an immense amount of love and support back home, and I for one can’t wait to hear about all your new adventures. I know things will be different in Madagascar, but don’t lose sight of what makes you who you are, because who you are is already pretty special.