For those that don´t know, I recently decided to sell my house, quit my job, store my things, and give up any semblance of what is usually considered a “normal” life. It was a big decision, but one that I thought about for a long time. As I prepared, I was immediately confronted with all the stressful realities and questions related to making such a major life change. Where do I put my stuff? What do I do about health insurance? OMG I am going to miss my friends and family so much! I started having doubts about whether this was the right decision. How am I going to explain this to my friends? To future employers? To my parents?!? Should I even go at all?
The answer, of course, is yes. The answer should always be yes when it comes to trying new things. Much has been written about “the power of yes” because, really, who wants to live a life of regret because fear held them back from something they wanted to try? Of course, I should go!
And it is that yes that brings me on a trip of undefined length to South America. Currently, I sit in a small town in Chile called Maria Elena. I will be here until the end of November, teaching English at the town schools and exploring the barren but beautiful Atacama Desert in the North of Chile: the driest place on Earth.
Before coming to Chile, I spent ten days in Peru, and the attitude of yes served me well there. Fortunately, I have a friend that knew someone in Lima and while I was there I was asked many questions. “Would you like to meet for coffee?” “Can I put you in touch with a friend?” “Would you like to join us for dinner?” After saying yes, and yes (and yes some more) I found myself, among other things, enjoying fresh ceviche at a private beach club in Lima, overlooking the Pacific, with a friend of a friend of a friend of a friend.
Don´t be afraid to work those connections! Sometimes they will fall through, but sometimes you will have a local show you how to use the confusing bus system or invite you to a dinner party. Even if you don´t have a connection, there are still opportunities to say yes. I was dining alone in a restaurant that offered a 2-for-1 happy hour. Another woman came in with her grandson, made a joke about how the offer didn´t really work for them, and then asked if I wanted to join their table and share the deal (I suppose I looked pathetic to them, dining alone – the horror!). I said yes, and I had a lovely evening with a woman who happened to be from Santiago, and discussed what I could expect from Chilean food and culture.
Ultimately, what is the worst that can happen? If by saying yes, you join someone for an event or adventure and the two of you don´t get along, then you don´t need to go out with them again. If you move to a new country and you absolutely hate it, go back home (or try out a different country). There is no shame in failure. The satisfaction of trying at all, of having said yes, will stay with you forever. It´s all part of the journey.