As a child of the 80’s I’m so lucky to have seen so much already, and look forward to owning a car that drives itself one day. I can still remember the euphoria of getting our first NES, our first computer, my first cell phone. I can also remember doing math in my head, and a time where I didn’t doubt the math I had just done in my head or felt compelled to double-check it on my phone’s calculator. I remember knowing so many phone numbers by heart, and now I second guess my own phone number, because it’s easier to exchange emails.
I also remember the clarity of knowing that there was so much to do in a day and that I couldn’t wait to get up and get started. I took a little break-in between graduating from University in a first world country and took the road less traveled and went back to where my story started. A country recovering from years of war, civil war at that, and earthquakes that took so many more lives. A place where violence and fear are palpable and hope is slowly dwindling in the hearts of those who’ve stayed behind to rebuild a country whose beaches, mountains and country side beauty can leave you in awe and for a moment make you forget all evils.
It was truly an education no university could ever impart on me. It was the real world my parents worked so hard to shelter me from and there I was looking at it all, wondering what I had gotten myself into. No one thought I could last more than I month, to be honest I doubted myself too at first, but that flicker of self-doubt just strengthened my resolve to power through it. I decided that since I looked like everyone else there, I would just blend in and live like everyone else. Except that I was told that this was just a very western way of thinking, a north american romantic idea. The simple fact that I was there by choice, wanting to stay in a country where everyone and their cousin wants to leave really meant that I could never be just like everyone else.
But there really isn’t a norm in a place where the socioeconomic gaps is so abysmal between those who have and have not, and once I learnt this, I realized that I had to make my own path in spite of not really knowing what that meant. It’s ironic that I would be so “foreign” and out-of-place in the very place that saw me take my first breath and where more than once I felt I would take my last. But my heart was fearless, although perhaps it was simply the recklessness of youth.
I thought I knew everything in my twenties and of course had the brilliant idea that blending-in meant eating like locals and so in my first three months in the country I lost a little over 30 pounds, because my stomach disagreed with everything I ate. So you can imagine the shock on my first visit home.
It was an unhealthy weight loss to say the least and my mom was worried. I was too, but after my short visit I got back on that plane and returned on my journey, after all I had a world to change. When I look back at photos of that time it almost feels surreal. I still have a pair of jeans from those days and I haven’t tried it on in years because I look at it and don’t think it would go up past my calves let alone my thighs. But I was sorting through some things and came across it earlier today and albeit it made me regret the Dr.Pepper and KFC I had earlier it also reminded me that there was a big reason why I lived a decade of my life trying to change things so far away.
Part of it was to help others, but a big part of it was to help myself. To find myself and prove to myself that I could look at that big brave new world and stand up to it on my own two feet. So really it was mostly about me, and as selfish as that may seem to some, it really is the best reason to do something. Because doing something for you, and working hard to better yourself is the best way to help others. Even airlines know this, and that’s why they ask that in the event of an emergency you fight your instinct to be a hero and put your oxygen mask on first, before you try to put one on others including your children. Because what help would you be to them if you couldn’t breathe and passed out?
Somewhere along the way we lose sight of so much. We become obsessed about helping others and forget to help ourselves. We become selfless and forget that it’s ok to be a little selfishly authentic too. It’s ok to want some me time. It’s ok to want to do something just for you because you have to live with you everyday, so why not love you and try to be a better happier version of you everyday?
So unlike all those posts where we’re given the top 10 reasons to change, I am given you just one. You. Change what makes you unhappy for You. Don’t blame others, let go of grudges, don’t blame the system, politics, that kid in 5th grade who broke your art project, just let it go and bet on you.
They say life’s a gamble and once again I’m all in. Signing off a little later than expected at 23:23 EST, good night world, I’ll see you on day one of 4:30 AM.