I said I’d come back and rant about the things I’d learned in another post. Here I am! It’s a shame that sometimes my thoughts are such a mess that I can’t get them down on paper. I started this blog, as you remember, to encourage an alternate perspective of the world and encourage others to get out of their comfort zones and start changing their lives and I don’t feel that I’ve been living up to my word. It’s not because I haven’t tried; it’s that I have such a hard time explaining my thoughts to other people. I feel like I jump around or go in circles or don’t always get my point across or possibly don’t even write exactly what I meant to say because I just kind of jump off from my ever-running thought process. But I hope that I have at least inspired one person or surprised one person or opened the door to a new perspective for somebody reading.
If one could climb inside my head and know my whole life story and how I’ve always been rather negative (even though in comparison to many people, I’ve had quite a blessed life), you wouldn’t recognize my thought process that has developed through traveling the last few years, especially what has developed in the past few months in Guatemala.
As I sat by myself in Belize one day by the water a little over a week ago, reflecting on my entire trip out of the U.S. and all the things that have happened, I couldn’t help but shed a tear. Oh, how the stubborn and strong side of me hates to admit that to the public, but it’s true. I felt so incredibly thankful for my life in that moment and knew that I was blessed beyond comparison to be able to take a trip like this. To make it even more cheesy, I stared into the sky and all I could see in the clouds were hearts and flowers. How much God loves me. I’ve had a lot more moments like this recently since I’ve started traveling where I just feel so overwhelmingly blessed in my life and happy for the first time ever that I can’t help but cry tears of joy. Make fun of me if you wish.
And then I began to think of everything that I’ve done that I never would have expected to happen to me.
I’m in a foreign country learning a beautiful foreign language and after 3 months, I can already communicate rather well. I can at least understand one-on-one conversations and if I can’t understand or am looking for a word, I can usually explain it in other words and get my point across. And I am even slowly beginning to pick out words in group conversations.
I’ve been away from home for the longest I’ve ever been away from my home in my life. Sure, for some people, you moved away for college. Something held me back from jumping that rope when I went off to school. I chalk it up to the fear of the uncertainty of change. But here I am, in a foreign country where EVERYTHING changes constantly. And I’m okay.
I’ve ridden a motorcycle without a helmet, climbed a volcano, stayed out in “dangerous” streets til 3:00 in the morning, ridden in a Chicken bus through the supposed “most dangerous route” in Guatemala, sang in front of strangers in a cafe, fallen in love with a Guatemalteco and had my heart broken, road-tripped through a foreign country alone, met a drug dealer and made friends with an ex-drug dealer, ridden a yacht in the caribbean, slept in the same building as a tarantula, ridden on the edge of a pick-up truck over steep and windy unpaved roads, battled endless different sicknesses for over half of my trip, met a famous singer, met some pretty cool people and some pretty awful ones, climbed through a cave with only a candle to light the way, jumped off cliffs in a cave, jumped off a huge rope swing where I knocked the wind out of myself, and been hit on so many times that I don’t think I could ever be able to think poorly about my appearance ever again.
And what I have learned in all of this trip and all of these experiences is something that Nike likes to remind us every day: “Just do it.”
Just do it, you say? Oh how these words grate on the ears of a perfectionist who needs to plan out all the details. How can I just do it? I’ve got to find out where I’m going to stay and what I’m going to do and how much it’s all going to cost and make sure I have enough money in my account and make sure it’s safe and well, what if this happens? What if that happens? If this happens, I would do this…. If that happens, well I could do this or that.
Hey guess what? You just started to make yourself worry about something that you have probably no control over. Why do I say just do it? Because you have absolutely no idea what is going to happen in the future no matter how much you plan it out. (Well, obviously if you don’t WANT to do it, don’t just do it. I’m not saying you need to get out there and try some drugs or go sleep with everyone that asks you or attempt things that could leave you dead. But if you got a little spark in you about something and you can recognize that only fear is holding you back, just do it and kick those fears in the ass!) Just do it is the best way to get over your fears. I would know from experience. I worry constantly because I am a perfectionist planner that loves to be in control and I don’t know how to handle things that aren’t in my control. But this trip has taught me something that Belize likes to blast from it’s music players 10 times a day “Don’t you worry ’bout a thing. Every little thing’s gonna be alright.”
In fact, after meeting many fellow travelers along the way who don’t really have much of a plan and are just deciding “where to go next” along the way, I have come to discover that not planning a trip may make it a better experience. I planned out my Belize trip as far as I could (if I could have planned all my shuttles and bought them in advance too, I probably would have). I had everything booked up through Flores. Well guess what? When I got to Belize, I wanted to stay longer and had to make a ton of phone calls to push my tickets back one day and then wanted to stay longer again but decided against it because I didn’t want to keep making more phone calls and bothering people. Had I not planned it out and booked my next location, I could have stayed as long as I wanted (and could afford, that is).
I paid for all of my time in Antigua in advance because I didn’t want to chicken out and go home early. I booked a round trip ticket so I couldn’t back out and go home if something came up that made me uncomfortable. But now I wish I hadn’t because I found out how incredibly much I paid for housing, when the family doesn’t even receive half of what I pay. I also found out that I would have liked to travel a little more instead of stay this whole time in Antigua, but because I worried and planned it out, I’ve lost more money than I needed to and I’ve made myself obligated to stay in one place. I’ve booked my flight home and I do want to go home for Christmas and do have another trip to go on in January, but were it not for Christmas, I would not want to go home (but since I planned it out, I would still have to go home or else waste all that money from the plane ticket).
So you see… Just do it. The one thing that I did “just do” was decide to come here, book it all, and pay for it within a week or two’s time. I had no idea what in the world I was thinking, but it just felt right. And I just did it. And it has been 100% the best decision I have ever made in my entire life.
What else have I learned? Forget what you don’t have and be thankful for what you do. What a spoiled brat I was in my country (Ok, not as bratty as some people that I’ve met in my life) but very much more spoiled than anyone here. I wasn’t happy with my life. I was always wanting this or that “Oh, if I just had this, I would be happy.” But if you keep thinking like that, you will never be happy. If I just got a raise, if I just made this much money per year, if I just had a boyfriend, if I just, if if if if if. What I’ve found with the change of perspective is if you find time to sit and think about what you have to be thankful for and remember to think about it every day, you will be happy. Whether you believe in God or just want to whisper thank you to the air, whatever. Just be thankful. Because I guarantee if you’re reading this blog, you’ve got a way better life than a lot of people in this world.
The people I’ve met here may never in their lives have the opportunity to leave their country. Some of them don’t even have the opportunity to visit somewhere different IN their country. I’m here traveling and having a blast. Some of them have to work their whole lives just to survive. I’ve never been too hard of a worker and I’m still getting to travel and take off 6+ months from work! I’ve got a laptop, a nice phone, a savings account, a good amount of clothes and shoes; things that some people will never see in their entire life. I can essentially decide where I want to go and what I want to do, as long as my budget allows and if my budget doesn’t allow, I have the opportunity to live in a country that has pretty good working opportunities (even aside from the fact that unemployment is rampant, we definitely have WAY more work opportunities and better paying jobs than the people do here).
Material things aside, I have some of the most amazing friends and family in the whole world. They’ve always been there for me. I’ve never had to worry that one of my other friends or family members might sleep with my boyfriend. I’ve never had to worry that my friend might hire me to work for him and then fire me without paying what he owes me. I know I could call some of my friends at any hour of the night and they would jump up and be by my side. I have known some of my friends for 10 years now and no matter how long we go without talking because our busy lives separate us, I know that they are still my brothers and sisters and that whenever I need them or they need me, we’ll be there for each other. I’ve never known what it’s like to have a bad friend because I’ve always been blessed with good ones.
Here, I’ve become even more thankful for that. Someone told me when I got here that when I leave, people are just going to forget me. I didn’t believe him, but now I see why he’s said that. A lot of people here are on survival mode. Every man for himself. Not ALL the people are this way so don’t get me wrong, but I’ve noticed that a lot of people just take advantage of someone who is actually giving and helpful and then move on when that person can’t help them anymore. I’ve met a lot of people that seem to have a good amount of fake friends. They kind of appear as friends, but don’t really seem to care deep down about how you are doing or what’s really going on in your life. In fact, a lot of people make fun of others when they’re suffering and tell them to stop acting stupid when they probably really just need a good hug. I’ve made friends with quite a few people that I don’t feel are ACTUALLY my friend. I’ve felt like a lot of people don’t even know what it means to be a true friend. Maybe I’m wrong and am completely misreading this place, but I swear some people have never had a good friend in their life. I never knew such a tragedy existed. I couldn’t imagine a life without my real friends. I couldn’t imagine a life where I have to worry if someone’s playing with me or if someone really has feelings for me in every relationship I go into. Or if someone’s using me or is my real friend.
So be thankful. Because somewhere, someone has a worse life than you. And if you go all your life wishing for something more to make you happy, I guarantee that you will live a miserable life and never figure out what that one thing is that really could make you happy. The one thing that can make you happy is the same one thing that I said about living your life: “Just do it.” Just be happy.
Now onto other issues… I’ve tried to keep a fairly neutral religious perspective on my blog, as I’m not a fan of starting debates, but I’m sure you’ve seen a mention of God here and there so perhaps it’s obvious that I believe in God. I’m not sure what I consider myself, however. I don’t like labels and if I were to choose a label, I don’t know what I would pick. I don’t like to associate myself with the “Christian” label because of the bad rep that it carries. I am no one perfect, but I am most certainly not a fan of the way many Christians act these days. You go to church? Woofreakinghoo. What do you do the rest of your week? In fact, I don’t even like church. Nothing against all churches, but in my experience, they’re pretty judgmental and hypocritical. God is good, all the time. Amen Amen Amen. TO HELL HE IS! You know the people that repeat those words at church don’t actually feel that in their heart. I know a lot of people are just repeating out of habit, but are really thinking “Yeah? Well if He’s so great, why’d he let my mother die? Or why’d he let me lose my job? Or why why why?” Ergo… Hypocrites. Anyways.. I’m getting on a rampant and my beliefs in God vs. church are a whole ‘nother ballgame. I just want to get my point across that I don’t think people that go to church are any better than people who have been awful to me here. The people in church have a whole different set of problems. We all have problems. We’re all people, all created differently, and not a SINGLE one of us is perfect.
If you don’t believe in God, you can choose to ignore whatever I have to say. But even people that don’t believe in a higher power usually tend to agree that religions do have something good to say morally speaking. But I can’t continue on to the next part of this post without mentioning some good ol’ Jesus!
So as you’ve read in my blog, I’ve encountered some pretty nasty and selfish people here. I haven’t mentioned EVERYTHING that’s happened because my blog posts to facebook and I don’t want to publically humiliate anyone. But from their actions, it’s rather obvious that they don’t give much of a flip for me and seemingly think that I’m just a toy to be played with. The culture doesn’t really respect the voice of women too much as a whole. Sure the fact that they think I’m precious and adorable and sexy all at once is flattering, but I’m more than just a hot body and a pretty face. I like when people listen to my perspective and look up to it or at least let me have an opinion that’s different than what they think is right.
So chalk it up to culture, or chalk it up to other things but a lot of the “good” people that I have met have told me I need to stop talking to some of the “not so good” people. But in my little softie of a heart, I just can’t. In fact, it kinda makes me sad when people tell me things like that. I realize for the most part people are just looking out for me and don’t want me to get hurt, but it also makes me think about how much we judge people (me included!). We have no idea what another person has been through. It is one of the hardest things in the world to not judge people and to love unconditionally.
As many times as some people here have hurt me or disappointed me and how many times some people have said I shouldn’t spend time with them, I just don’t feel good about cutting them off from my life. Maybe they will never be my friend, but I feel that I would hate myself more for not trying to be a good friend to them. Maybe those are the people that need a friend the most. Maybe the reason they treat others so awfully is because they’ve been treated awfully their entire life. Maybe the reason they shower people with flattery but don’t actually follow through as a true friend when it really counts is because no one’s ever been there for them either. Maybe they’ve been lied to their whole lives. Should we kick them to the curb and forget about them? Well, I don’t think so. If everybody’s done that to them their whole life and then I do it too, they’re just going to keep on believing the same thing and doing mean things to others. Tenemos que ser la diferencia, verdad?
Jesus hung out with prostitutes and lepers and liars and all the kinds of folks all the “good peoples” said to avoid. I don’t think I’m supposed to give up on loving these people. I got hurt here a lot, but when I went to Belize and got time to think and got to make friends with a(n) (ex) drug dealer (who I would normally judge as a horrible person, but whom I never would have guessed was a drug dealer because he was perfectly nice and sweet as a pancake), I thought about the fact that we’re all just people and we’ve all got a different story and I laughed a little at my friends that just don’t seem to be my friends and forgave everything that happened. More than I think I’ve ever forgiven anything in my life. I usually have to fight to forgive someone, but I just laughed. How amazing of a mind traveling can give you. My head felt so clear and I felt ready to come back to a fresh start here. A fresh start that still includes my not-so-great friends, but that doesn’t allow them to get to me anymore. Now I can just shake my head.
But I feel the main lesson to get out of the Bible is to love other people. The more I learn about life, the more I feel that this is the most important thing we can get from the Bible. Forgive and love. It’s not the rules. It’s not the “Well God says to do this or else.” He even broke his own rules and helped people on the Sabbath day, which he says to respect and not do anything on that day. The Pharisees are the ones who “follow” God’s rules to a point (but guess what? They don’t because they’re breaking the “judge not” verses by judging people who don’t follow God’s laws). So stop with the judgment and start with the love. Because that’s what most of us need and seek the most is love. Acceptance for who we are no matter how many times we’ve messed up. I think some people have probably messed up so much that it’s hard for them to accept love and so they push away something that might be good for them, but should that mean that we push them away as well?
So now I begin the last half (probably already less than half) of my trip. I have a fresh mind. I’m ready to start again and try to continue to be the example that I set out to be when I left. I’m going to try to just love these people ’til they gag. And not just because the Bible says to love, but because I want to. Because in reality if we’re listening to what the Bible says but it’s not in our heart to do so, we’re not really listening to it- we’re just living fake life that we loathe. But I feel it in my heart to love these people; they are my friends no matter how lame they are. And I’m going to continue to try to be positive because I love this new side of me. And I hope that I’ve encouraged some of you through reading my blog to try something new. I hope I’ve encouraged some of you to just drop your job (if you hate it) and start over happier.
Don’t worry about the money. Don’t worry about when you’ll find a new job. Don’t worry if you don’t know what you should do with the rest of your life in this moment because it’s probably going to change anyways. So stop worrying and start doing and go live your life! Get away! Clear your head! Figure things out all over. I don’t care how old you are. There is nothing more valuable than happiness. So if you’re not happy, get out of your comfort zone and start living. Because I know from experience, it’s muy rico ser viva!!!!!!!!!!!!