• Dustin C. Kinard

The Four Year Journey; A Reflection

It's May! And it's finally warm here in NYC!

It's hard to believe that four years ago, this month, I moved to NYC for my first time. I was so much younger, I had so much to learn, and was so naive and ignorant to so many things back then! I still remember the night my ex and I arrived and unpacked the car. Laying on the blowup air mattress that was our bed, and listening to the loud horns and sirens outside. Completely exhausted from the long emotional drive, and overwhelmed by the not-so-planned-out move, we laid there and cried.

To say I'm in a different place now, compared to then, would be very much an understatement. I am very happy to look back and see the growth, I wouldn't change a thing- but I would never be interested in going back there! And, honestly, I am excited to continue to grow into the best version of me!

Four years ago, this month, I officially started the most difficult and emotional journey I had ever encountered. Not for the faint of heart, that's for sure. Plenty of tears were shed. However, I've become a version of myself that I am very proud of, and am thankful for the life lessons along the way (albeit, very taxing at times.)

Four years ago, I had to leave behind A LOT of familiar things. I had to cut very close people out of my life, I had to make really hard decisions, and I had to believe in myself, become extremely determined, independent, and learn to live life on the edge.

In the past four years, however, I have met some of the most amazing and talented people, ever. I've worked alongside beautiful artists, musicians, and actors. I've had the privilege of seeing some of them on stage here in NYC, and even backstage access to their Broadway shows. I've met famous people that I looked up to as a kid, I've attended concerts and events at venues that I only knew of from the movies. Heck, I've even taught some of those famous people's children and helped them tie their shoes. I've created lasting memories, crafted new traditions, and lived a lifestyle true to who I am.

In the past four years, Ive had the privilege of seeing the world. I've explored multiple countries on multiple continents. I've submersed myself in new cultures, learned about new religions, experienced new awakenings and had complete mind shifts. I've searched for Nessie on Loch Ness, I've watched the Tango performed on the streets of San Telmo, I've practiced yoga in Bali at the Yoga Barn, I've taken a boat ride on the Ganges River and even dipped my feet in, I've been searched by sketchy police in Colombia, and most recently, spent a crazy two weeks in Hawaii!

The world has become my playground. I'm living a life that even the childhood version of me couldn't have fathomed.

The hurt I experienced four years was hard. It was tough. It was confusing. And it could have been paralyzing BUT- it pushed me into a place that I cannot be anything but thankful for. I've learned to think for myself, to always be curious, to never think I know it all, and always have an open ear to learn something different and new. My heart has grown to a place that I can love deeper than I ever thought, feel more empathy for my neighbors, and thrive in a environment that is supportive and understanding.

In the past four years, I've had the opportunity to speak and work with people who have similar stories. People who felt they would never be happy with who they were, who would never be accepted by the people who claimed to love them, and who could never grow more into themselves without feeling immense guilt. Thankfully, I've also seen so many of those people find peace in understanding and release the chains (although anyone who has ever been hurt knows that the scars still last.)

It's the day before Cinco De Mayo, and I am about to pour some margaritas to celebrate early!

So, here's a toast to the journey!

To learning.

To growing.

To being willing to be vulnerable.

To learning from your mistakes.

To not listening to negativity.

To being you.

To allowing yourself the room to thrive.

To seeking the truth.

To seeking YOUR truth.

To love.

To relationships.

To adventures.

To life.


- Dustin

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