Are you living or are you just existing?

¡No puedo creer ya es Agosto!

It’s starting to get hard to remember what I’ve already mentioned on my blog and what I haven’t. This turned out to be a lot more work than I expected (partly because the way it works is not very user friendly, especially when it comes to uploading photos! -and my apologies that my gallery page still sucks!), but I still want to continue because I know later in life when I want to really remember the details, I will be very happy I kept this up. When I went to Costa Rica with my high school, I got too caught up to remember to write about it and now I only have 3 pages and a few memories and I can’t remember anything in great detail and I wish I could.

And por eso, I shall continue this blog!

You’ll learn more about a road by traveling it than by consulting all the maps in the world” is a quote from my travel journal this week (no author listed) that seems to ring more true each day.

I remember how worried I was to come down here. Yes, deep down I was excited because my true self really loves to travel and make friends and love people, but my other self (I swear I’m not a schizophrenic) was afraid….

What happens if this happens?
What happens if I end up in a hospital?
What happens if someone robs me?
What happens if I can’t communicate with anybody?
What happens if I get lost and I can’t use my cell phone?
What happens? What happens? What happens?

Shoot that shit out of your brain right now if you ever have this type of thought process. In your every-day, normal, comfortable life, you can’t even prepare for these things, but the thing is if you are living the same life every day, you start to get comfortable. And the more things that don’t happen, the less you think about these things that worry you. The truth is, no matter where you are, anything can happen. The thing with our brains is that when we change our day to day life, we start to worry too much because something is DIFFERENT and UNKNOWN. But the reality is that every day life is different and unknown; it just gives us a false sense of assurance when it seems like our every day life is the same and will always be the same.

Well, here I am, nearly a month later and what happened? Lots of things. But nothing bad. Nothing that I worried about. Ok yes, I did get sick and that sucked a lot and made me worry even more that I wouldn’t make it six months. I thought I would go home and return to my normal boring life and hate myself for being such a coward, but here I am. I’m better. I’ve been better for 2 weeks with no signs of that whatever-that-was returning.

Here I am only a month into my trip wondering if I made this trip long enough. If it weren’t for Christmas, I would consider extending my trip! Before I left, I thought for sure this would be the hardest and longest time of my life. Nope. I am already getting sad just thinking about leaving. The last of my original roommates, plus the newbies that only came for a week (which were awesome by the way- Barry, Jen, and Deborah) left this weekend and I get sadder every time more people leave. I can’t imagine how hard it will be in 5 more months to leave sweet sweet Isolina and Maynor. I can’t imagine.

And here I thought, I would be down here every day counting the days ’til I could return to my comfort zone.

So now I’ve come to this conclusion with this thought that I’ve been pondering on for quite a while and I think I do really believe this the more I travel and the more I learn:

If your life does not surprise you, you are not really living!

Why did I come down here? What decisions led me to this trip? I believe I mentioned in my first post that I wanted to talk more about this issue in a later post. I am pretty sure I meant to do that within a few days time, but I’ve been having so much else to say that me olvidé (I forgot). For this reason, prepare yourselves for another book of a post so I can touch on this topic before I forget again.

I think every person can relate to this at some point or another, whether it was in a down spell or whether this is your typical every day feelings like mine have been. I am most certainly a dreamer and I think of how much I would like to do something some day. The problem is when I have a thought like that, one of 2 things happen:

a. procrastination
b. “realistic” (more like negative) thinking

Por ejemplo…

Oh. I would love to travel the world. Ok… well.. I don’t have a lot of money. Maybe when I have more money, I’ll do it. (But I never “have enough money”) (Procrastination).

Oh. I would love to travel the world. Ok… well.. I don’t really want to go by myself so I’ll just look for someone who might want to join me! Oh, that person can’t afford it right now? Ok, I can wait for someone else. Oh, wow, actually. Traveling is pretty expensive… Maybe I should get a real job first. But then if I have a job, I guess I can’t travel because I won’t have any vacation time. Well, that’s okay. You’re supposed to get a job or whatever after college right? You’re supposed to work your ass off so you can pay to live, right? Ok, well maybe I can’t travel… Maybe I’ll just have to wait ’til I retire. Or maybe I just am not one of those lucky people that gets to travel. Or maybe I just can’t do it because I am too afraid to go by myself. No surprise. I never do anything exciting anyways. Forget it I guess. (Negative thinking)

Excuse me? Here’s my favorite line: “…so you can pay to live, right?” Yeah, no. YOU’RE NOT LIVING IF YOUR LIFE DOES NOT SUPRISE YOU. Now, don’t get all offended if you’re feeling like I’m attacking you with these comments. I’m yelling at my other self too for being silly in the past. I’m trying to show you what I go through sometimes so if you can relate, my experiences can help you. I really REALLY want to encourage people to go do what they want and what they love if the only thing that’s stopping you is fear (which it most likely is. If you disagree, you best step back and take another analysis). For example, it seems like a rather logical reason to not quit your job because you need the money. Now I’m not saying that it’s bad to stick it out at a job you hate sometimes because you need the money because sometimes that IS really necessary, especially if you’re in debt. Sometimes its good conditioning to keep at something you dislike or at least try to find something you do like about it.

But if you’re sticking it out with something you hate for an extended period of time? I think it’s time you best be quittin’. It’s something you have to decide for yourself, but I think if you are truly unhappy somewhere for a long time, it’s a good sign it’s time for a change.

In my situation, I’ve disliked GA for a long time. Nothing personal to any of my friends in GA because they are the main reason I had so much trouble leaving, but I have always been bored with my life there. But I was always too chicken to leave my friends for too long of a time. I’m not sure why, but possibly because I was afraid I wouldn’t make friends elsewhere or I would lose the friends I had in GA (There’s that fear thing again). But see, I can make the fear part disappear and make it sound completely logical: I don’t like GA, but my friends are awesome so I don’t want to leave them. See what I did there? Sometimes it’s hard to realize that you’re afraid of something because it’s rather easy to convince yourself that you just can’t do it for some good reason. It’s not that you’re scared, but you just can’t. That’s probably just your brain trying to block out the fact that you’re actually scared of something. If there’s something you want to do and you’re not doing it… You’re afraid of something. I promise.

So what led me here? Fear of being fearful my whole life. I’ve seen how it can destroy a person (and so that I don’t embarrass or call out anyone, I will not name any names. Besides which, I’m included because obviously, I’ve watched myself grow up). I’ve seen how it can ruin so many beautiful opportunities. I’ve missed out on so many things already at 24 years old because I was too afraid. And I was too afraid to tell anyone I was afraid because I didn’t want to get made fun of for having such a silly fear. Afraid afraid always afraid.

I wanted to travel here for many reasons, but that is the main one. I wanted to conquer a huge chunk, if not ALL, of my fears. I’ve wanted to speak Spanish fluently since I took Spanish in school, but always wondered how that would happen because I didn’t think I’d ever study abroad unless I found a friend to go with me. So, to come on this trip would mean I had conquered the fear of going alone. Check.

To come on this trip conquered the fear of thinking my friends would leave me if I was gone for too long or if I moved away. Now, when I return, I get to move to Charleston to live with a huge chunk of awesome people who will still be waiting when I get back and I couldn’t be more excited. Check.

To come on this trip would mean conquering the fear of being far away from anyone familiar and the fear of being independent. Check.

To come on this trip meant I would have to overcome my fear of trying other food. Suffice to stay, I’m still a bit picky when it comes to what I like to eat, but now at least I can say I tried when someone asks if I like something or not! Kind of check?

To come down here would mean I would have to conquer my fear of children. Ok, not fear of children, but I’ve always said to everyone my whole life how much I hate kids for fear that they would think I wanted kids or for fear that by saying I don’t mind kids means I would end up with one. The truth is, I just really don’t want one of my own EVER, but that doesn’t mean I can’t love on other ones. And I shouldn’t be afraid of what other people think is going to happen to me because they are not in control of what happens to me. I’m not going to have kids, but I do enjoy kids (sometimes. only when they behave well. never when they’re behaving poorly.) I love Isolina’s kids and I love the girls at my project. Check.

¿Que más?

I’m not sure I even remember what other fears I was trying to conquer, but my point is… Do you remember all the comfortable things I had to give up to come here? Do you remember how worried I was at the airport and how sick I was? Have I elaborated enough on how difficult this was for me? Then why are you still reading my blog? Go find what you love and do it. Afraid of quitting your awful job because you may never find work again? Afraid of taking a long period of time off from work because you might run out of money? Afraid afraid afraid? Just stop! Just go. Just quit. Just do what you love. If you don’t know what you love, stop what you’re doing and go figure it out. Stop dying and start living.

Honestly, I can’t give any further suggestions. Just do it. (As Nike would say..) That’s the only way I got here. In about a week’s time, I decided to come here, booked my trip and paid for it before I could chicken out. When I started couch surfing, I just decided to sign up and look for a place and go before I could turn back. Two of the best decisions in my life. Now I’m moving to Charleston when I get back and know some of the most amazing people in the world because I just stopped and just did it.

Speaking of couch surfing, time for a shout out to James Banicar for being my first couch surfing host. When you first start couch surfing, you can’t have any reviews on your profile because you haven’t stayed with anyone yet. I could have been any old creep trying to fake a profile and kill someone, but James extended his trusting invitation that I was a real girl and let me come to his house. And not only do I now have an amazing group of friends in Charleston (no thanks to James), couch surfing has changed so much of my life. If James hadn’t been such a welcoming host and shown me what couch surfing was really about, I wouldn’t be here today in Guatemala. Couch surfing helped me come out of my shell enough to decide to try to conquer my fears further and come here. So thank you, James. You really did change my life. (John, you too. I was fearful my first time couch surfing and James took me to a party down town and I was still coming out of my shy box and shut down. If it weren’t for John, I probably would have stayed shy the whole time and not have had as great of an experience. I’m better with one-on-one conversations with people at first and John took me to the beach to walk and talk. After this, I was so much more comfortable. So I must say if it weren’t for James and John, my life story would be hella different right now. HELLA different.)

Thank you Audria (the girl from the first week I was here) for adding hella to my vocabulary.

And in conclusion, for a final reiteration…. Please. Go live. It’s fabulous.

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