“The truth may set you free, but first it will shatter the safe, sweet way you live.” — Sue Monk Kidd, The Dance of the Dissident Daughter
I recently uncovered this quote in Steph Jagger’s Unbound: A Story of Snow and Self-Discovery, and it feels fitting to not only this post but to where I’m at in my life right now, so I’m just going to leave it here — if for no one else but me.
This morning was our first official orientation as a group, and as Jonathan, Liza and Simmone introduced our group to both Unsettled and Medellín, I couldn’t help but be struck by something Jonathan shared. Among Unsettled’s principles is a commitment to being true to yourself. For me, among the exploration, the community, the friendship, the adventure, the intentionality, the unknown, the learning and the growth that this month will inevitably bring, I think this idea of being true to myself hits at the heart of what I want to get out of being here.
It is something I have thought through quite a bit lately. I’ve been in Buenos Aires for four months now, and during that time, I feel as though being in a new place has tested who I am. More specifically, I think it’s tested my faith and strength in who I am — remembering that I know my values, know how I value spending my time and who I value spending my time with. Remembering that the way other people want to live their lives — as well as the way they think I should be living my life — shouldn’t affect me, shouldn’t negatively influence me, my decisions and my actions. That I am my own person and that’s okay. That’s more than okay. That, to borrow an idea from Erin Sullivan, I am not for everyone. That I do not need to be for everyone. That, before anyone else, I need to be for myself. Or rather, I need to be true to myself.
To be completely honest, during the past four months in Buenos Aires, I feel as though I’ve lost a bit of who I am. To be fair, I’ve found myself in quite a few places, too. Adjusting to life in an entirely new, entirely foreign place on your own and adjusting to the influence of the people you’re meeting, for better or worse, is tough to navigate.
The ways in which I’ve “lost myself” aren’t terribly crazy, but I do feel as though there’ve been moments when I’ve compromised pieces of who I am, of who I know I am. That’s been tough. It doesn’t feel good, but it’s also nothing I can’t bounce back from. And as is the case with so many things in life, I think it’s important to live, learn and move forward. I often think of the motto my college swim coach set for our team: sempre avanti — or “always forward.”
So what am I looking for this month? How do I want to live into my time here, the community I’m part of and this experience overall? I want to keep an open mind and an open heart as to what this experience is for me, as to how it unfolds for me. I want to embrace this community, the conversations and adventures we’ll share. I want to live intentionally, and through it all, I want to make sure I’m staying true to myself. I want to make sure I’m taking care of myself.
What I think has happened in adjusting to life in Buenos Aires, and what I think can happen here, is that I’ve gotten so wrapped up in the speed of life. Of living in fast forward. In Buenos Aires, I think that came from a place of so badly wanting to fall into community, of wanting to find my place within a new place.
I can’t say that’s happened to me before in that way, but testing the waters and pushing your limits will do that to you. I’m not saying I want to close myself off to new people, places and experiences. Because I don’t. I want to keep taking risks, pushing my boundaries and stretching my imagination — I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t — but I want to make sure I’m taking care of myself, too, and going at a pace that works for me.
Because in order to genuinely connect and contribute to this community and this experience, I need to bring my best self to the table, and to do that, I need to take care of myself.
I want to fully embrace everything my time here has to offer. I want to be present for myself and for those around me. This is an incredibly strong, incredibly inspiring community, and I feel so privileged to be part of it. Honestly. To have the opportunity to connect and collaborate with and learn and grow from this community of creatives, entrepreneurs and like-minded individuals in an intentional way is unlike anything I’ve experienced before. I am in awe of the people around me — people who come from various places, who have diverse skills and experiences and who range in age from 24 to 44. It’s a great reminder that our commonalities are so much greater than our differences, be it nationality, gender, race, age, etc. What lies within us, what drives us carries so much more weight than the surface of who we are.
I hope that this month opens my eyes and that I return to Buenos Aires with a clearer vision for the year ahead — who I want to be, where I want to go and what I want to do. I cannot know who I will be on the other side of this month, but I hope I am better, stronger, wiser, more courageous and a bigger, more focused, more actionable dreamer.
This month, and moving forward, I want to get back to the root of who I am, the heart of who I am. I want to stay true to who I am today and who I want to be tomorrow and the next day and the next. Because taking care of myself, being true to myself is the foundation of living a healthy life, the foundation of all great things to come.