On October 15th, 2008, I found myself hovering over a glittering Buenos Aires, expansive and golden from where I sat perched in the night sky. As I peered out the window, nervous with excitement, I wondered which cluster of lights illuminated my future nest.
I had never been more open than when I took off boundlessly to Buenos Aires. Yet, months later, I found myself back in a cold, gray New York City with a broken heart, no money, and no clue how to bounce back.
Moving to Buenos Aires was the result of years of meditation, coaxing and savings. It had begun two years prior while I was still working in a cubicle job that stifled me.
At that time, Argentina wasn’t a real place—it didn’t yet have teeth and bones or a pulse. It was an ethereal representation of where my life would begin, if I could just get there. When I was in despair, I’d search Google and daydream. What I found blended together into a romantic and promising visual feast. I felt in my heart that Argentina held something for me. It would be the place where I’d finally find and live my truth.
By the Winter of 2007, I’d made a secret plan to move there. I quit the cubicle job, switched careers and went freelance all at once, an experience that gave me courage to head into the unknown. By June 2008 I had a ticket, and I started to tell people about my plan to move to the Southern Hemisphere. I was ready to follow my heart and see where it led. Buenos Aires welcomed me with open arms. I made friends quickly and began to host dinner parties and establish a routine. On top of it all, an acquaintance from NYC had joined me at the last minute, and I was falling in love. I gave thanks for having the courage to free up my life, to get over my fears enough for this all to be possible. I was actively creating the life I wanted.
Unfortunately, it was the end of 2008 and things were falling apart. The economy in the States had plummeted, and so had the possibility of establishing a company to support my life in Argentina. Despite my desire for my relationship to grow, it had begun to cool. As his departure date grew near, it was clear we’d be saying goodbye.
Feeling alone and unsure, I returned to the States. My friends and family welcomed me with enough warmth to eclipse the Argentine sun, yet I felt disconnected, unhinged, mechanical. There was nothing to do but fight to put my life back together, and so I got to work.
Within two months, I had a job and an apartment in Brooklyn again. While I was grateful, I couldn’t help but feel that I’d reverted back to an old life. All of my daring and faith had landed me right back where I’d started. I couldn’t see the value in Argentina. I felt I had failed myself, and I was afraid to have a dream again.
Last week I launched OPEN (One Person’s Evolving Narrative), a video series and blog that explores the relationship between self discovery and travel. We sponsor individuals in transitional moments to go on a trip of their choosing that has the potential to reveal something about themselves and where they are in life, on a personal level. The mission of OPEN is to give the gift of travel, and help individuals take big steps in their personal journeys.
OPEN is a continuation of my lifelong desire to see more of this world, and help others do the same. In order to give OPEN life I had to first change my story about Argentina—from a heart-breaking failure to a valuable experience that's brought me to where I am. Changing my outlook has allowed me to reconnect with my purpose and pursue my dream again. So how does one revive their spirit after a perceived failure? What do you do when the journey does not turn out as expected? Here are a few practices that have helped me recharge:
1. Find the benefit in the "failure." Nothing we do with so much heart and intention is completely lost. There is something you gained from the experience it - identify and build on it.
2. Allow yourself to be vulnerable. Vulnerability can be uncomfortable, yet you're never more open to tap into yourself and identify what's most important and let that inform your next steps.
3. Trust the process. Though things might not have turned out as you’d hoped, there is a reason why you ventured out in the first place, and a reason why it turned out as it did. Accept the state of things so that you can move forward.
4. Surround yourself with people who know and believe in you. They will be your sounding board and remind you of who you are when you lose sight.
5. Record your journey—journal, blog, document your thoughts and experiences. Being able to look back and remember yourself and your journey as you regain your strength is invaluable. It's a wonderful way to dreamscape your future.