“Stop bullshitting yourself man! You’ve always known what you’ve wanted! Heck, you’ve told many people already. Stop making silly excuses out of fear of discomfort! Don’t you see how damn clear it is? Just f*cking decide already!” My mind was at real turning point. My volunteering experience was taking it’s effect, and to be honest, this was exactly what I hoped for.
Time for a break
I had left my home in Belgium because I wanted a break from my current lifestyle. I worked at a great company, with a young spirit and unique vision, together with warm and fun colleagues, I had a good wage and great advantages, was given responsibilities, was learning a lot and had growth opportunities. They encouraged me to grow and learn about myself even. In fact, partly thanks to their mentality I saw I was missing something working there.
My first instagram post before i left Europe. This is where it all started. #nofilter
In many aspects my workplace was great, and I could not have been more lucky to have my first job there. But when I honestly look back on it, there always was an undeniable feeling of something lacking deep inside. I wanted to see more of the world and get in touch with other cultures. Travel had always inspired me and given me a sense of adventure, aliveness and purpose. I had also seen that there were plenty of problems and inequalities in the world. I couldn’t directly see how I was making these better, or at least try to better them, in my work.
When I honestly look back on it, there always was an undeniable feeling of something lacking deep inside.
However, it was quite unclear what I exactly wanted to do instead. I had to be honest however to myself and my work that this wasn’t fulfilling me. Luckily, my work was very open and understanding and we agreed I could take a 6-months break to go and explore the things I missed, to come back afterwards. Imagine, I was only working there for a year. As I said, I am lucky with having such a first workplace.
High on energy
So, off to Brazil to volunteer with AIESEC! Get in touch with a different culture, learn another language, make a positive local impact, whooop! The moment I knew it was real I was totally pumped. It had been a long time since I felt so energetic. That energy never really died from there one. Inherently, I have felt a little happier since that moment. “Taking this break was no mistake” I still think that everyday.
“Taking this break was no mistake” I still think that everyday.
Even more, my energy and aliveness grew even larger during my first experience in Maceió. Being in a totally different climate and culture, in touch with kids in truly difficult situations, speaking Portuguese 24/7, surrounded by a group of open minded volunteers that shared the same goal. It was tiring as hell but at the same time I never felt as awake and fueled with life.
It was these kids that initially made me realize i was in a lucky position and should make no silly excuses for making the best of my life.
This energy made me grow more confident and relaxed. However, new doubts came to the surface, playing with my confidence. “Ok, so I really love this, but what should I do next with my life then? It’s way to difficult to create a life travelling and working around the world. It’s not sustainable. Could I do it? Should I try it? I don’t think I can go back to what I was doing before.” I played these mindgames daily. At first it was quite unconscious, but the more awake the experience made me the more aware I became of it. It took me until arriving in Floripa however to realize I had to make decisions, and be honest once again.
Speak the truth
Being honest with yourself is a funny thing you know. It really empowers you as you become a truer version of yourself, you allow yourself to chase the things that you do truly care for. You’re cutting the crappy excuses that you are making. Excuses because you are afraid that you will not actually obtain your dreams when really trying to get them. At the same time however, being honest can scare the shit out of you. That’s what it did for me at least.
“You allow yourself to chase the things that you do truly care for”
“Shit. And what now?” I was sitting on a big rock after a good surf on a sunny day in Floripa. I had become fully aware that I was going to shift my life. I could not make any excuses anymore, it was too damn clear. “I love this too much, I want to continue exploring for the coming years.” Good right? Yeah, of course, but If really wanted the flexibility work from wherever I wanted be and actually build something sustainable, I had to start some type of online mobile business. My honest thoughts on this: “Fuck, that’s scary”. Look, I knew there were various options to do this and knew that many people around the globe were doing it. But still, actually doing it? Drop good work and start trying with the money I had left? Hopefully building up something before I ran out? Yeah, uncomfortable is the least I could call it.
My honest thoughts on this: “Fuck, that’s scary”.
But I had spoken the truth to myself already, the doubts had grown weaker than the will to actually make this happen. And it was time to speak that truth to others as well. First of all to my work. I could not actually focus on something new if I had the option to go back. It would start playing mindgames with me again in the moments with less motivation. So we talked, and as understanding as they are, we agreed I did not need to go back and could start off right away.
It was sitting on this rock that realized i was going to shift around my life.
Every conversation where I spoke the truth gave me more energy and pushed me more into discomfort. It was real. I was going to do this, try it at least. I had these conversations on purpose by the way. I knew they would push me to get off my but and go for it. Even putting this on my blog is a continuation of this. It definitely does not feel comfortable, but it challenges me and gives me energy. Being publicly honest brings things to another level. It becomes a lot harder to back off from what you said. Exactly what I need.
Like to get more focused and honest yourself? Be clearer on what you actually want in life? There’s a great book called “The subtle art of not giving a fuck” that really helped me. Check it out here.
My experience in Brazil helped me a lot in becoming more honest with myself. First of all I realized that I was incredibly lucky. In terms of economic situation, nationality and having a supporting family. Compared to the situations of the people I worked for, damn, it would just call it unfair. But I realized that it would be absolutely ridiculous to not go and make the most out of life. I am this lucky, I actually have the opportunity to go and make this a reality, how stupid would I be to not even try it. What helped me most however was getting a more Brazilian mentality.
“Se quesh quesh, se não quesh dish”
There’s an awesome phrase in manézinho, which is the slang of people who were born on the island of Floripa. “Se quesh quesh, se não quesh dish” This phrase beautifully represents the mentality of cutting the crap, something Brazilians are great at in my opinion. Translated it goes something like this “If you want (it), you want (it), If you don’t want (it), say (it)” It’s dead simple but very true.
Meet Pablo, my awesome host in Maceió. He really kicked things of for me on my path to Brazilian honesty.
You’ve probably heard about the stereotype that Brazilians are quite easy-going and not very punctual. I would say it’s quite true on average. But I wouldn’t say it’s bad. I would go as far and say there’s a good mentality underlying this habit. Brazilians just do not like worrying about unnecessary things, things that simply aren’t worth worrying about. I remember very well how many times Pablo, my great host in Maceió, told me “Relaxe rapaz” and “Tranquilo cara” in the first month. It basically means that I needed to chill out and worry less. He found it funny how apologetic I was about being a bit late or forgetting some little things.
I remember very well how much Pablo told me “Relaxe rapaz” and “Tranquilo cara”
Once I actually got used to this mentality and rhythm, which can take a little time of you’re used to western-european culture, I did not only find calmth but also a better focus. When you start dropping the unimportant mental clutter only the valuable stuff remains. I didn’t let my mental or emotional well-being be ruined by things that weren’t worth it.
From my perspective many Brazilians are more honest in this aspect. If they don’t care, you will know. I would say there’s less games and fakeness, and I appreciate that a lot about this culture. Relationships are just more real and you don’t have to decipher a ton of bullshit to get to the essence. Saves you a lot of worrying and makes you feel more relaxed with the people around you.