I already feel a sense of belonging and I’ve only been in Jamaica for a month. Perhaps this is a testament to how un-belonged I felt prior to arriving. Yes, I stand out. Yes, I sound different. Yes, I’m confused. And yes, I don’t know half of the cultural norms around here. But yet, I belong.
You know why? The pressure’s off.
Trying to keep up with the pressure of what society says I should be doing can be tiring. And sometimes it’s left me feeling like an outcast. I don’t own a house. I don’t own a car. I am not married. I don’t have kids. YET. And still, I’m content. (When I’m not nursing my currently wounded heart….which is another story altogether.)
I want all of those things to happen. They just aren’t happening right now and so instead I am openly embracing what I have in my life to celebrate. So many amazing opportunities. I can achieve my dreams of working and traveling throughout the developing world. My love is so big I want to move it and trace it across oceans.
When I’m not feeling contentment, it’s usually because I am comparing myself to others therefore questioning my choices and feeling like an ugly duckling. Which we all do now and then. I find here there is less to compare to. I’m a pioneer. I am proud.
I find myself surrounded by friends and colleagues here who are of the same mindset and are chasing the same dream – to explore and give back to the world while deepening their understanding of themselves. This incredible gift has reminded me that I’m not alone and that I’m not behind. I’m just taking an alternative path.
I also find myself slowing down. I have less in material wealth but I’m experiencing more. I have space to write and observe and breathe. I’m not climbing the ladder nor am I accumulating stuff. I’m doing. I’m enjoying the environment I’m in and the people I come across. I’m filling myself up while simultaneously giving back as a volunteer with CUSO.
Some highlights from my first month in this wholesome new world.