Exactly a month ago I was on my way back home from home, Portugal.

I still cannot comprehend that a month has passed already. 31 days ago I was saying goodbye to people and places that have changed me forever and start taking further steps and rewriting my future plans. I had to change plans as I have changed. I can’t take the same small steps I did before, I had to change the way I walk to go along with the new changes in me. Now I feel I have to jump sometimes, others run, and even more often pause and breathe before taking another step.

I’ve been trying to write about my EVS experience since yesterday, staring at the laptop screen for hours, writing few words then deleting, then going again into the screen. Two days in the same pace of confusion and overwhelming thoughts.

The least I can say is that my life path has changed the day I started volunteering at Rato-adcc, or maybe it hasn’t changed, it became clear and obvious, I’m not sure. I believe each person has their own path in life, a path full of steps an individual takes towards something. These steps may be slow or fast, have an increasing or decreasing pace and speed, sometimes shared with other footsteps, even other times these steps could lead back where we start. The difference between one footstep and the other is who is actually leading these steps and where to, the reason we’re actually taking these steps and how, the purpose we move forward.

My EVS was full of steps, some where actually random. I was aware of the random unplanned ones, but took them anyways, in hope the unknown will be an enlightening experience, or just a mistake to learn from. My EVS experience was a mixture of moving forward, staying still and a lot of times stepping back. I’ve never been happier about taking steps backwards in my life, maybe because this time these backward steps meant I realize when to just step aside and understanding my limits.

Four months and 15 days were all steps that I’ve learned from and helped me realize who I am. I’ll be forever grateful for this experience and happy I took this time for myself to know who I am before knowing what I want to do, know what makes me happy as I realized I can’t enjoy life, can’t actually be the support I want to be in the field I work in without understanding what makes me happy.

Every experience, small and big, every “Ahaa” moment I had, there was always the people I’m forever grateful for, my colleagues , my flatmates, my friends and my family, the people I spent most of this period with, the souls that helped me find my own without they even try. Thank you for making this experience worth every second. I can never be luckier with such group, with amazing support in the office and outside and always will remember how each and every person has a beautiful quality that I have learnt from. For the kids we worked with in schools, I hope and wish you a better future and Thank you.

Always and forever thankful for the person that underestimates his effect and affection, the one who always had questions backfiring in the back of my mind and making me realize and understand the world and myself, the person who tried so hard to convince us how horrible he is even though he is one of the most HUMAN living persons with such a big heart (regardless the countless times he tries to hide this side of him), Nuno. Thank you for every single discussion we had, for trusting in me and giving me the space to realize and see, and for the realistic slaps I badly needed.

I always go back to one of the activities we did that included pairs of shoes. I always had a thing for shoes, even my Instagram is full of photos my own shoes reminding me of a journey or a memory. This specific activity means a lot to me as it was a life visualization of how I see life. Shoes are a representation of life itself: It’s a path we take, footsteps representing decisions and mindsets leading individuals towards a purpose”. This is how I see it, and EVS was boxes of shoes that I’ve taken back with me and will be wearing again and again, praying these shoes lead me to my purpose. .