This is not a story with a happy ending. Nor is my intention to inspire you. This is me trying to find something – I don’t know what, and I’m not sure if I’m going to find it or not.
I’m not sure when my journey started. I don’t remember the first time I thought that I needed to find myself or my purpose in life, but the truth is that 10 years ago I made a promise to myself that changed my life.
When I was 18 years old I decided to travel abroad (for no particular reason) at least once a year to a different country. This was a challenge for me, as I was barely a woman. I was a little girl with no experience, no money, and zero knowledge of another language (I didn’t even have a passport). Now when I think about it, I realize that my promise wasn’t really all that ambitious, because even if I keep that promise all my life I won’t be able to visit all the countries in the world.
Anyway, the first country I visited was Costa Rica, where I served as a volunteer at a National Natural Park located on the Pacific Coast. Fun fact: I had a connecting flight in Panama City and after the plane landed I went directly to the next flight. I didn’t know where my luggage was, but I thought “they” will take care of it… Hell no! So, first trip, new country and no luggage.
It was a trip full of firsts though; first time I sailed in the ocean in the middle of the night, first time I had dinner with people from five different countries, first time nude on a beach, but also my first panic attack. There I was in the airport, ready to head back to Colombia from this incredible trip, and I was told there was a departure tax of $40 USD, that I had to pay prior to boarding my flight. I hadn’t a single penny in my pocket, and the hopelessness of the situation drove me to tears (so dramatic I know). One hour later, some girl, a complete stranger, who had been watching me, decided to give me the money… I’ll never know her name, I was so choked up from crying that I could barely say thanks. As I reflect upon that experience, I know that was precisely the moment when I learned the meaning of empathy, which is the most important principle that I apply in my everyday decision process.
Since that trip, my bucket list of countries continues to grow smaller, as I visit the places I have always wanted to see; Costa Rica (obviously), Peru, Brazil, Spain, Italy, Greece, Bolivia, Panama, Cuba, Mexico and the United States. I’m actually writing this from a little town called Beacon (New York) … Beacon has a few definitions in the Merriam-Webster dictionary and one happens to be “a source of light or inspiration” – Don’t forget that my intention is not to inspire you though 😉
What can I say after 10 years? That I still don’t know what I’m good for or what is my purpose in life… I enjoy the feeling of exploring new things and places, and that’s enough pleasure to move forward, maybe because I don’t like the sensation of being trapped. My point is, we (girls) have different reasons, different moments in life, different goals, different start points and finish lines that make us move, transcend, create, research, dispute, or just live. ¡So – just live!