jueves, 27 de julio de 2017

Beating Insecurity: Why Not?

friendly signsHave your insecurities ever stopped you from doing something you really wanted to do?

It's happened to me countless occasions.  As I mentioned in an earlier post, my insecurities were a driving force in my life.  Or, better said, they were a paralyzing force in my life for far too long.  Fortunately, for some time now, I've gotten better and better about pushing myself into uncomfortable situations, if, at the end, it gets me to do something I've really wanted to do.

However, every once in awhile, insecurity still gets the better of me.

Two years ago, it almost robbed me of a chance to take advantage of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.  Looking back, I´m still surprised by the series of events that led up to this opportunity.

Twelve years ago, my husband left Mexico for a year to study his master's degree in Sweden.  (Thank you, Sweden and your marvelous system free higher education--we will forever be grateful!)   After he finished his classes, he came back to Mexico with the intention of finishing his master's thesis while he was working.

Ten years later, his university decided that it was time he finally finished and presented this thesis.
downtown Linköping
Therefore, two years ago, we spent two weeks in Sweden in June, so he could FINALLY finish that degree.

Sweden is a lovely place to be in June.  His university was in Linköping, two hours southwest of Stockholm.  (It's pronounced "Lin-sho-ping" NOT "Link-o-ping."  If you need further proof of the goofiness of the Swedish language, check out this video, explaining Swedish pronounciation.  When Mexicans complain that English pronounciation is hard to learn--which it is--throw this video into the discussion!  See--English isn´t the only goofy language!)
historic boat restaurant Linköping

Anyway, in Sweden in June, the grass is green, the flowers are in bloom, the trees are lusciously, leafy green, the sun is ALWAYS out, the birds are singing, and--in Linköping--a river runs through it.

Yes, a river runs right through the downtown area.  There is a system of locks, so people can take boats on pretty extensive river tours.  On the north side of the downtown area, the city put up a beach, so those sun-loving Swedes can enjoy the warmth and the outdoors as long as they possibly can before winter locks them inside again.

But since I was there in June, people were taking full advantage of the river area.  Of particular interest to me--a man was renting kayaks one of the first afternoons I was exploring the city.

I am pretty well-versed in canoe (for being a suburban girl).  But I had never had the chance to kayak.  I really wanted to.  I love the feeling of floating on the water, skimming the surface as if I were flying.  Pushing myself through the water with a paddle, the effort is usually minimal for the amount of distance I can travel.  (I´ve clearly never gone against a strong current.)

And kayaks, being so much smaller than canoes, make me almost positive that that feeling of weightlessness and flying could be enhanced.  I decided that yes, I wanted to kayak.  In Sweden.  Under the leafy trees lining the river in downtown Linköping.

Then, in walked insecurity.

1)  Maybe this was more expensive than it was really worth.
2)  Or maybe I had better wait until next week.  After all, it was my second day exploring the city--that was exciting enough, right?
3)  Or maybe the rental guy didn't speak English.  (Oh, please--Sweden continued to floor me not only about how all Swedes speak perfect English, they also didn't seem to mind that my Swedish vocabulary consisted of five words, of which only two ever found their way out of my mouth.)
4)  Or this . . . Or that . . . and maybe this again . . . ad naseum!

So I sat on the bank and did what I do best--observe.

Then something that caught my attention.  The kayak rental guy looked strikingly similar to Levy, a guy I spent a year volunteering with at NPH in Morelos.  Furthermore, rumor last had it that he was in Sweden.  There was a carseat this guy's car, for a girl who was probably just about the same size of Levy's kid.  And renting kayaks and sponsoring other outdoor recreational opportunities would be EXACTLY the kind of thing he'd love to do.  (Having very few personal funds when we volunteered, he managed to start a successful tae-kwon-do program at the children's home, which he kept running for at least five years on his volunteer's stipend.)  He gets things done, and he does what he wants to do.

Swedish daisy

I realized that if this guy really was Levy, he'd roll his eyes at my indecision, then look me in the eye and tell me, "Jill--get your ass in that kayak."

So I bit the bullet and decided I was going to do it.  Plus, the more I watched, the more I was convinced that I knew this guy, and I´d regret it if I didn't go and find out if it really was him or not.

I weaved my way through the kayaks on the beach and groups of twenty-somethings getting their lifejackets on.  Finally I got over to Levy and got his attention.  I was within arm's length of this guy.

He was shorter than Levy.

Then he started talking--definitely not Levy's voice.

But his English was excellent, and he was clearly happy to have another kayaker for that hour's tour.
After a very basic round of paddling instruction (all in Swedish, which I could mostly follow--thanks Duolingo and body language!) we threw the kayaks in the river, got in, and headed downstream.

It was every bit as wonderful as I imagined.

The freedom on the water, the effortless slice of paddle through the water, the blue sky and the sun glistening off the river--kayaking down the Kinda Canal was hands-down the highlight of my two weeks in Sweden.

These kayaks were only out to be rented on Thursday.  I had considered waiting until the next Thursday.

It turned out that it rained all day that next Thursday.

I'm so glad I took advantage of the opportunity I had when it presented itself.

It's easy to get bogged down in numerous reasons not to do something.  Had I listened to all my doubts, or even the benign "let's put it off until next week", I would have missed out on what turned out to be my most memorable experience of that vacation.

Traveling is a great chance to seize the day.  Let's all channel our inner Robin Williams and "CARPE DIEM!"

Traveling is also a great chance to get overwhelmed.  Everything is different, everything is new.  While the vacation may have been the source of dreams while at home, it can be exhausting to live the experience.  But, so many times, experiences we can take advantage of while on vacation are once-in-a-lifetime opportunities.

Don't prioritize comfort so that it eclipses growth and joy.  Seize the day.

As a friend of mine, who got talked into a cross-country camping trip with her husband and six kids said recently, "Why not?  It´s the new theme for my life."

Ironically, asking that question rhetorically diminishes the pull that all the reasons "why not" have on our decision-making processes.

I think I´ll adopt that motto, too.

Why not?

This month, the South of the Border Sisters Bloggers are having a blog hop with the theme "Travel".  I meant to keep my post south of the border, but it IS certainly about travel!

And let's face it--insecurities keep us from traveling.  But if traveling--even south of the border--is what you want to do, go for it!

Why not?

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