A Feel-Good Reflection

June 29, 2013

Today was my last full day in Argentina.  It’s crazy to think that I have spent almost 2 months in South America now.  As I cram clothes and souvenirs into my suitcases, I can’t help but reflect on this entire trip and everything that I have discovered.

Simply put, Argentinos are really living.  They are always doing something fun, whether it be chatting for hours with a friend at a café over a coffee, dancing at a club until 5 or 6 in the morning, or playing a pickup game of fútbol in the park.  They are friendly and affectionate, inclusive and fun-loving.  They are a community.  In my opinion, they value friendship, love, and creative expression over exhaustive work hours and résumés and other daily “obligations.” Nor are they addicted to technology or glued to their couch.  There is an energetic atmosphere that inspires you to laugh, be free, and enjoy yourself.  Life in Argentina isn’t something that can be described or explained—it can only be felt.

It has inspired me.  A self-proclaimed overachiever, I have felt my priorities in life slowly change and shift, morphing with my ever-changing views of the world.  A revelation that is probably only shocking to me: I work too much.  I stress, I put myself through unnecessary pain, and at times, I’m merely a robot spitting out results.  I’m not saying that I’m going to quit working altogether, but how enjoyable is life constantly spent at a desk in the library or in a cubicle?

Life is all about balance—too much of anything is a bad thing, and that applies to both work and play.  I am completely certain that I will continue to push myself—my problem has never been that I “can’t get motivated,” “don’t take the time to study,” or “have the ambition,”—it has always been the fact that I never take time for myself.  One of my favorite quotes—the quote that I try to live my life by—is “you must be the change that you wish to see in the world” (Ghandi).  I can proudly claim to be hardworking and compassionate, down-to-earth and (mostly) honest.  I try to exude the qualities that I admire in the world and hope to see replicated in others—loyalty, optimism, drive, creativity, etc.

However, in trying to be my version of the “perfect” model citizen, I have forgotten one crucial aspect of life: living. Taking time to live. Calling old friends. Remembering birthdays. Leaving work at home. Being present in the moment. Enjoying having nothing to do. Spontaneity.  Laughing at myself…and so much more.

The nugget of wisdom that I have brought back from Argentina after weighing it against my American values? Make time for the things you love to do, the things you have to do, and the things you should do; do it with others, don’t sweat the small stuff, and enjoy every moment of it. Spend time with the people who make you smile, and forget the ones who drag you down.  Use Facebook in moderation, and do things that make you feel alive.  Try new things, because when you’re comfortable, you’re not growing.  Learn about the world around you—the rest of the world certainly knows more about us than we know about them.  Force yourself to enjoy what you dislike, even hate—you’ll be glad that you didn’t just mope your way through it later.  And if you are able to take hold of and practice any one of these ideas, please share it with others.  We need more people who are really living.

Sincerely, Erika

P.S. If anyone would like to know more about my study abroad experience in Argentina, feel free to comment/ask.

Words I associate with Argentina:

ARGENTINA: colorful, vibrant, crazy, lawless, fun, affectionate, nightlife, bread, music, beautiful, dirty, dramatic, restless, creative, proud.


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