“There is freedom waiting for you,
On the breezes of the sky,
And you ask ‘What if I fall?’
Oh but my darling,
What if you fly?” — Erin Hanson
It’s 4 a.m., and I’m sitting at Puerta 14 at AEP in Buenos Aires. I got about an hour of sleep last night, and I’ve got a long day ahead of me — four flights. Buenos Aires to Mendoza to Lima to Bogota to Medellín. I get into Medellín, Colombia around 7:30 ET tonight and then have roughly an hour drive down into Medellín.
It’s early, but I’m using this time to reflect — to think about where I am, what I’m doing and how I’m feeling. There’s a lot to this moment. This moment of leaving Buenos Aires for a month and embarking on an entirely new adventure in Medellín. For so many reasons, I am a mix of so many emotions. Excitement, uncertainty, adventure, fear, sorrow, patience, etc. etc.
I’m feeling every emotion under the sun, and most of them spring from this lingering sense of “not knowing.” Not knowing what the next month holds. Not knowing what the months that follow it hold. Between going to Medellín, returning to Buenos Aires and whatever comes next, there’s a lot I don’t know at the moment. For me, that’s simultaneously exciting and slightly terrifying.
Why Colombia? Why Medellín?
I’m traveling to Colombia for a month of living, working and exploring Medellín alongside a group of 20 or so creatives, entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals with Unsettled. Click the link, and check them out. The month-long adventure I’m about to embark on is uniquely awesome. We’ll be sharing apartments; sharing a co-working space; sharing thoughts and ideas during workshops, meals and more; sharing adventures in and around Medellín; and much more. I’m truly looking forward to entering into an intentional community for the next month, and beyond, and feel ready and open to what this experience has in store for me.
That said, I’m traveling to a new city in a new country with a group of people I’ve never met. I don’t know what awaits me in Medellín. I really don’t know what this month will be like. But I do know there was a reason I signed up for this and that I am looking forward to the month ahead — especially exploring in and around Medellín, as it looks as though the February Unsettled group had some grand adventures, including some off-the-beaten-track.
Through my excitement as well as my uncertainty, I’m reminding myself to keep an open mind and heart about what this experience is for me, how it unfolds for me. I want to be open to what it teaches me about myself, about how I learn, grow and move forward.
Leaving Buenos Aires, the community I’ve started to build for myself
Even with all this excitement, and a bit of uncertainty, as to what the next month holds, I’m also quite sad today. I’m a mix of bittersweet emotions. I’m sad to be leaving Buenos Aires. Sad to be leaving the community I’ve started to build for myself here. A month feels like a long time to be away. I realize, in the grand scheme of things, it’s really not. But it feels like it. This moment is tough for me.
I’m sad to have moved out of the apartment I was living in for the past three months. The guy I was renting my room from has been traveling in Southeast Asia this summer, and he returns next week. So I will be a bit of an orphan looking for a new home when I return to Argentina.
I’m sure I will land on my feet, but there is a feeling stirring inside me at the thought that my home base — the place and people who’ve become home for me throughout the past three months — will not be the same when I return. My center in Buenos Aires will inevitably shift. That’s been tough for me to stomach lately because I really grew comfortable in and really grew to love the place where I was living and the people who live there.
Looking back, looking forward
Basically, if you didn’t catch onto this already, I’m in a bit of an in-between state at the moment. There are a lot of unknowns on the horizon for me, so in many ways, I feel as though I’m back to square one with this South American adventure — although I know that’s 100% not the case. I’m four months in. Four months in. I’ve learned quite a bit of Spanish to the point where I can carry conversations with others in Spanish, can navigate my way around Buenos Aires and have really started to build a life for myself in Buenos Aires.
I also know this: that even while there are still plenty of challenges and tough, tough days, I have fallen in love with Buenos Aires and Argentina — and in a way far different than I thought I would. It’s not a head-over-heels kind of love. It’s not even a lovey love kind of love. It’s a kind of love where I appreciate the city for the ways in which it’s shaping me, through thick and thin. Because it is 100% both.
Buenos Aires is challenging me in ways I’ve never been challenged. It’s quite unlike any place I’ve ever lived. I’ve never had to build community completely from scratch, and I’ve certainly never had to do so in a foreign location. In a foreign language that’s just that — foreign. It’s testing my limits, and while there are times when I really, really despise that, there are also times when I can see, understand and appreciate the good in that. I’m tripping up and making mistakes, but I’m also recognizing that that’s okay — that I can always learn, grow and move forward.
Embracing the unknown
Through everything, I think the biggest unknown of the next month is the unknown of who I’ll be a month from today. How will I learn and grow throughout the next month? When I get on a flight back to Buenos Aires a month from today, who will I be? How will I have changed? How will I be the same? How will my life look?
The unknown, the uncertainty is here. It has to be; it always will be. That’s life. I think we just experience those unknowns and uncertainties to varying degrees based on who we are, where we are and what we’re doing. Like our attitudes, and so many other things in life, we also get to choose how we deal with the unknown. We can shy away from it — or we can run and fall on the floor as we tackle it and embrace it in a giant bear hug of sorts.
I don’t want to lock up and ignore my unknowns. I want to embrace them. I want to embrace them for everything they are and everything they can be. Because they aren’t going anywhere — and often, in those moments of uncertainty, we’re on the brink of magic. On the edge of discovering something great. Within ourselves, within the people around us, within the space around us, within the world around us. In embracing the unknown, we turn the key and unlock the door to a whole other world, a world full of wonder, magic and opportunity. A world we didn’t know existed within us until that moment, that moment we chose to accept and embrace it. So this month and always, I want to live in a world where I embrace and dance with the unknown.
March 3, 2017