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December 20, 2013

What I Learned From Moving to Buenos Aires Alone.

What’s the ballsiest move you’ve ever made?

Well for me it entailed a literal move, to Buenos Aires, completely on my own.

Moving to any new place is unnerving; moving to a new country is intimidating; moving alone to a new place without a single contact or idea of what to expect, well that can be downright daunting.

And exhilarating and life enriching at the same time.

Upon graduating from college, I knew I needed to move to Buenos Aires. There was a huge, deep, driving urge within me and the only certainty I felt for sure was relocating there.

I was so scared, yet beyond excited. You know that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you’re half terrified of what you’re about to do (totally jumping into the unknown and putting yourself out there) and simultaneously more joyful and enthusiastic than ever before? Well, that’s how I felt.

And it taught me a lot.

First lesson: Passion.

I’ll admit, one of my most journaled about thoughts before moving to Argentina was a craving to experience true passion. And not just the passion felt between a man and a woman (or any two lovers), but passion for all aspects of living. And believe you me, Argentines are passionate! They are passionate about family, food, tango (in BA), carne, dancing, music, and maybe most of all—fútbol.

I was elated to live in a country where people didn’t stifle their passions for pleasantries, or worry about keeping face just to prevent a ‘scene’. Argentines taught me the same lessons as The Way of The Peaceful Warrior: ‘let it flow, let it go!’

And trust me, I made a scene or two myself. Most of the time not even the convenient store clerk batted an eye, but I loved that it was totally the norm and that nothing was being held back. How exhilarating: full throttle passion in all arenas of life.

Lesson Learned: Do what you love, express how you feel, and give whatever it is your all.

Second lesson: Confidence.

When we challenge ourselves to do something that is out of our comfort zone (yet beckoning nonetheless) and follow through with it, confidence is built.

It takes making that first step and seeing where it leads. Most of me was thrilled, but part of me was also terrified at what I was doing.

There were nights that I felt so lonely, so alone, so unsure of what was going to happen next. But I knew that I had put myself in that position (which felt totally freeing) and that there was nowhere else I’d rather be.

When you make a move like this (or anything that takes total chutzpah) you build your confidence reserves. I learned that I really can do whatever I set my mind to. I still have fears but I also now feel fearless. I know that I can handle whatever craziness and uncertainty life throws my way.

Lesson Learned: To instill confidence you have to take actions that scare you, ones that you’re unsure of; you’ll never know the results ahead of time, but if you avoid following your heart and your hunches, you’ll always doubt yourself.

Third Lesson: Trust.

Knowing how to embrace your passions instills confidence; tangibly seeing the results of those confidences builds trust, like nothing else can.

There are times when we just have to trust. A million unknowns can always be found (if you look for them) but often when we really want something, we just have to trust.

Before leaving, I wondered how I would pull it off. Earning pesos and living paycheck to paycheck (without barely any savings) worried me. How could I survive? The hard times were hard and there were plenty of instances where the most I could do was be as clear as possible on my intentions and place trust in the outcomes.

And guess what? It always worked out, most of the time better than I could’ve even imagined. As with confidence, you have to test trust out to believe in it. It takes knowing the basics of what we want, throwing our hands up in surrender, and just believing.

Lesson Learned: Once we build trust and confidence in ourselves, nothing can nor will take that away from us.

Fourth lesson: Relationship.

We are creatures of habit.

It can be hard to extricate ourselves from the norms of who we’ve become. But sometimes we need to figure it out for ourselves rather than relying on all the past ‘who we’ve been.’

Moving to a new country is a most excellent way to do this. Expectations and preconceived notions are dropped. It’s like a sociological experiment, trying out different ways of acting and behaving, voicing parts of yourself that were previously buried or repressed.

Turns out I wanted to try out being a black haired vegan (in the country rated among the worst to be a vegetarian in). Oh, and a yogi (see next lesson).

I learned to love every bit of who I am and act primarily for my self—some would say I found myself. And from that moment on, it’s all I could want for others.

I came back with a renewed sense of wanting to get to know people in the ways most important to them. My family life flourished; gone were the catty competitions of teenage sisters and welcomed were the chances to see my sisters for the beautiful beings they really are.

Lesson Learned: By accepting yourself for who you are, you create space for others to do the same; people will feel more themselves around you, your relationships will flourish, and your confidence, trust, and passion will guide others into being their happiest, most altruistic selves.

 Fifth lesson: Yoga.

By day two in Buenos Aires I felt more peace than I had ever before in my life. Sure I got lost about 10 times a day and managed to chop off half of my beloved hair due to miscommunication (i.e. I spoke no Spanish). But I had done it. I was there. Living my dream.

For the first time I could really make every day as I wanted it to be. Balanced effort and ease. Peaceful. It’s no wonder that this is the time in my life that my yoga practice flourished.

Rolling out my mat and stepping onto it, sometimes for hours a day, was my sense of belonging, no matter where I was. I felt connected and confident because of my devotion to self through my yoga practice.

It’s actually how my meditation practice started. I would linger in savasana for up to half an hour or longer, imagining my far away loved ones with a smile on their face, for no apparent reason.

I sent them my love, happiness, and exhilaration from all that was going on within me. I placed upon them my feelings of peace, acceptance, and belonging. This is how I found my yoga.

Lesson Learned: Find what brings you peace. Share that with others.

La Quebrada de las Conchas; Cafayate, Argentina.

What you want wants you!

My hope through this article is that you can learn these same lessons wherever you are. It doesn’t take moving to a foreign country all on your own.

But if that is what you want, I hope these words inspire you to do so.

I often receive emails of those hoping for belief in their dreams, advice on how to take the reins. Alls it takes is one person to believe in you. And if that person is not you, then share your hopes with me or anyone else who will listen. Find the belief that it takes to make that first step.

Tell me, where will you go?

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Editor: Catherine Monkman

Photos: Courtesy of Author

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Gerry Ellen Dec 20, 2013 4:19pm

All of it! Venturing out on a journey is worth its weight in gold, at whatever time you do it in your life. South America is dear to my heart. Good luck and keep on going!!

Gerry Ellen Dec 20, 2013 7:50am

great article! Thanks for putting into words what I've always felt. Congrats on following your heart and your dreams 🙂

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Jessica Cartwright

Jessica Cartwright is on a mission to make the world a better place, one happy mom at a time. She provides mothers with the tools they need to support themselves, so that they can support their loved ones. She teaches pre and postnatal yoga locally in her hometown of Bozeman and through her virtual course, Mamas with Spirit. Her obsessions include making sourdough bread, sunshine, and her daughter Bella. Stop by and say hi on Instagram or her website.