Since returning from Chile, I’ve met up with old friends and the new ones I made while there, reconnected with family and watched way too much television. I’ve tried to reflect as introspectively as usual and given the amount of free time I have now, I’m angry with myself over my lack of reflection. It could have to do with me telling my “Chilean Story” ad-nauseam. It could have to do with me being fearful of comparing my other international experiences more favorably than this one. It may have something to do with being afraid to acknowledge the negative things about myself, the things that hold me back.
They are all true. I told my tale to my parents, friends, strangers at parties, friend I met in Chile who I hadn’t seen since we parted. There was a lot to tell, but there comes a time when I realized that I’m done talking. “Tell me about you. My life is boring.”
My time in Chile had an indelible change on my life, one that is hard to explain concisely. While it was profound, it wasn’t entirely enjoyable. I lived with a family that wasn’t my own, enveloped in their idiosyncrasies and tensions while trying to keep a healthy distance. I handled death and anger and teenage angst with them. I learned from them and loved them all with my minimal Spanish language sills. But would I repeat my experience again, just as it was? Absolutely not.
There are things I did and didn’t do that don’t need repeating. I’d like to say I’ve learned from the past and have grown, but I’ve made the same mistakes multiple times and learning is not on my mind until the light of day, when I can mentally slap myself.
But life is about using what you have at your disposal to your advantage and not letting the past hold you back. It’s about creating the person you want to be, growing into the idea of your most successful, imperfect self, and sustaining a sense of happiness.
So I vow to reflect more, to do the things that I need to, to become the person I want, to not let the past hold me back, to respect my time in Chile for what it was, and when the time comes, to reflect on that experience in full. I’m thinking I may start with that right here.