Moving to Brazil, and doing it with Vinh, has been one of the best decisions I have made for myself in years. Life moves slower, is sunnier, and fuller (even though we do much less). It’s tempting to think we have to “produce” something, to justify our time and efforts. I was taking a year off and still I felt the pressure (much of it internal, societal, cultural) to have “something” to show for it. “I’ll write a book about bucket list adventures!”; “I am going to do yoga everyday!”; “I will find my life passion while traveling and unwinding.” .. the list goes on. I really made myself believe each platitude too, as if by producing that item for whoever to see would justify why I had to take a break.
Somewhere in the middle, I realized that I had intense writer’s block. I could not get myself to write, because I had attached too much meaning to what the writing was for. Before, it was just for me. I am a talkative person, and I love to emote. I love to write and share my feelings and thoughts. It’s how I interface with the world. FB and IG are very natural media for me, since I get to share and reach more people with my thoughts and opinions. And yet, I was paralyzed. I didn’t write for the first 3 months of my year off. Then my second post came 2 months after that. And then nothing until month 9 of my year off. I couldn’t figure it out until I realized that I was pressuring the writing to become some amazing best-selling travel book overnight. Just not realistic. I convinced myself so many eyes would be on it that I couldn’t start the first sentence. So instead I just lived my daily life. I explored, went to the gym, sunned at the beach. I jumped in waterfalls and took road trips. And slowly, I let go of the pressure of producing something, as I became more convinced and ok with the idea that no one was watching. Everyone has their own lives to live – people are curious and people care. Beyond that, I always was, but now finally felt free to, do whatever I wanted to do with my time off.
And letting go of that need to produce something “of merit,” whatever that means, and allowing myself to just live, has been the best gift of all. I’ve recovered bits of myself that I wasn’t sure were still there — it’s amazing how resilient the soul is. I’ve felt a peace within myself that I hadn’t felt in years, maybe a decade. And I’ve felt genuinely happy.