For someone who’s made a lot of changes throughout the past year and embraced a lot of challenges — many planned, many unplanned; some good, some I wouldn’t choose to relive; some new, some repeats — change still scares the sh*t out of me.
Tomorrow I’m traveling back to the U.S. for my cousin’s wedding, a visit with family and friends in northern Michigan and a trip out to California for work. I’ll then be returning to Bariloche, a place I’ve come to love deeply, a place in which I feel at home and at peace, a place that inspires me to keep chasing and living big dreams.
This post isn’t about Bariloche, though. This post is about change and some recent thoughts on it. Throughout the past week or so, as I’ve thought about stepping back on U.S. soil and spending time in familiar spaces, if only for a few weeks, I’ve reflected quite a bit on change and how returning home after considerable time away often reveals change.
Let’s talk about failure.
Why does this word carry such negative connotations? Why do we fear failure? Why are we so afraid to fail? To accept defeat? To be knocked down?
I suppose it has a lot to do with the way failure makes us feel. Both in the moment and sometimes long — far too long — after the moment has passed. Failure stings. It doesn’t feel good. It’s tough. It’s humbling. It can feel unfair. It can have everything to do with us; it can have nothing to do with us.
No matter how it feels, I’m learning it’s important to remember that failure isn’t half-bad. The more I live, the more I realize there’s actually a lot of good in failure. There’s a lot of good to be drawn from failure. We learn a lot from feelings of failure; we grow a lot from feelings of failure. In fact, there’s often more to be learned from failure than success.
Life is not always easy. It’s messy. It is a balance of ups and downs and everything in between.
Sure, it seems obvious, but I sometimes think it’s worth stating the obvious.
Throughout this journey, this journey of living abroad and this journey of living life, I think it’s just as important — maybe more important — to share the pieces that are tougher than tough. Because while I’ve had my fair share of exciting and inspiring adventures since moving to Argentina and traveling in South America, the moments I’ve shared on social media are not my everyday life. They’re pieces of my life; they’re a fraction of my life. They’re moments I chose to share, and they’re part of a much greater story.
I choose to share moments and thoughts with those around me — whether that’s in live conversations, in emails, on social media or somewhere else entirely. We all do. They’re often my better moments.
But don’t be fooled. Those moments are not my entire life.
“You have the need and the right to spend part of your life caring for your soul. It is not easy. You have to resist the demands of the work-oriented, often defensive, element in your psyche that measures life only in terms of output — how much you produce — not in terms of the quality of your life experiences.” — Jean Shinoda Bolen
Three weeks ago, my friend Ashwini and I were riding in a jeep through the Colombian countryside near Guatapé. As we took photos and marveled at the lush, green, thriving mountains and the adventure we were on, I tuned in and out of a conversation between the Irish guy and Canadian girl — two fellow travelers, not in our group — with whom we were sharing the jeep.
As the jeep lurched and hobbled down the dirt road, pulling us back and forth with it, the guy and girl began talking about St. Patrick’s Day. As they did, I became lost in a momentary conversation with myself.
“What month is it?” I considered the question in silence for moment before looking at Ashwini.
“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.