Buenos Aires has been crazy humid these days. Yes lovelies, it’s summer here. In some sense, it reminds me of the familiar weather back in Singapore – the warm and comforting heat, the impossible humidity, the lazy afternoons perfect for napping like a cat. I’ve always preferred sunny days to the bitter cold, so I’ve been thankful, really thankful 🙂
This city is also beginning to feel like second home to me. I’m getting to know the streets better, moving around with more surety, learning more about how things and people work, and am getting increasingly comfortable with my still-limited-but-survivable linguistic abilities. I’ve found my little nook of comfort after being here for a year, and it feels nice to be in a routine of sorts. The sense of familiarity is assuring.
It will be great if I am looking to settle here, but the thing is, I’m not. I’m definitely happy that I’ve come so far in this journey and have found my space in this big city, but I also know that I’m not ready to call it home anytime soon.
The reason is simple – I have yet fulfilled what I had intended to do when I first set foot to this part of the world, 15872 km from home. Armed with the initial desire to explore new territories and embark on a journey of discoveries, I ended up staying primarily in Buenos Aires because I fell in love with the dance, Tango.
It has been wonderful so far. I’ve had amazing times, created beautiful memories and formed memorable connections. Truth be told, I really like my life here.
However I also know that I can’t be feeding off Tango day after day. Yes, Tango has become a big part of my life, but like I’ve said it, it’s a part, not all of my life. Things would have been very different if my life goal is to become a professional Tango dancer. But nope, it is not.
With that in mind, I recently gave myself a deadline to leave Buenos Aires and continue from where I had left off by March this year. Yup, that’s only a month away. The journey beckons and I should really keep going.
I initially thought that this decision will excite and energize me no end. However, the inverse occurred and it very unexpectedly made me sad. That is weird, isn’t it? After all, I chose to go and no one influenced my decision to do so. So why do I feel such conflicting emotions? I was struggling to comprehend my mixed bag of emotions.
Over lunch the other day, I told my friend that it’s funny that I am already missing Buenos Aires so much even before leaving the city. I already miss dancing Tango into the wee hours of the night, walking out of the milongas with the first strands of sunlight brightening up the skies, the chanced magical connections from random dance invitations, the addictive artistic immersions, the Porteño way of life, the afternoons at charming cafes, the pockets of quietness I get to spend with myself, the support system I have built here.
These days, I have been forlornly counting down the number of days I have left here. Each day that passes fill me with a little more melancholia and nostalgia. I feel like I am painting a picture for the grand exit, one that is filled with poignance and I am not looking forward to it.
I have been hoping that time will stop so that I can extend this moment for as long as I can, trying to grasp time that is slipping through my fingers and desperately clasping on to it so that I don’t lose it further. Obviously, the results hadn’t been optimistic; no one in history has ever suspended time.
It’s also eye-opening how this one specific example turns out to be a stark reflection of how I habitually always focus on the impeding loss of things.
I don’t want the good things to finish. I am obsessed with endings.
I fear letting go.
More often than not, we have a tendency to irrationally cling unto things even though they no long serve us. It doesn’t matter if we still truly want them or not, or if they are still creating values in our lives. We are too consumed by our fear of losing the sense of predictability these familiar things bring.
As a result, we hold on to them even tighter. We prevent new things from entering into our lives. In fact, the latter idea is discomforting.
It’s not that we fear new experiences. Rather, we fear the unknown outcomes these encounters might bring. We aren’t sure how they will affect and impact our lives. After all, we human beings are fundamentally creatures of comfort. We resist change more than we admit it.
I realised how often I have been operating from this mindset of scarcity. My focus has always been about losses rather than possible gains.
I first learnt about the concept of scarcity from the famed personal development guru, Stephen Covey. He mentioned in his popular book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, that operating from the mindset of scarcity means that people believe that there are only limited and finite experiences and resources in the world for everyone to have. Aptly described by him, these people “see life as having only so much, as though there were only one pie out there.”
As a result, we hold on to things that we believe are the best we can get. Well, better to hold unto what we have now than risk getting nothing later.
For me, I know this belief is a result of how I was being brought up. Coming from a comfortable but risk-adverse society and a middle-class Asian family, the values I have been ingrained since young were about contentment and saving for rainy days. Radical dreams or making bold moves that could rock the stability for both my family and myself are often frowned upon. People like me are often regarded as naïve, immature and hopelessly idealistic.
I also came from a place where collecting material stuff is a representation of a successful life. The more we own, the more successful we are. Possessions become a validation of self-worth. And losing possessions is associated with failure and regression.
I used to cling on to my possessions. I used to cling on to the money I had saved. I used to cling on to bad relationships that were no longer serving me. I had clung on to all of that not because I knew they were good for me, but more because I feared losing them.
But what exactly did I fear about letting them go? How was not having those things or relationships making me less worthy as a person?
Looking at it critically now makes me realise that my belief was really, rather silly. Instead of exploring the vast space out there, I myopically chose to squeeze myself into such a tiny box that left little space for maneuvering.
Along with that, I had also lived my life assuming that contentment and settlement are the same things. Meaning that in order to feel contented, we should never ask for too much out of lives.
Not that it is wrong. But other than that being the perfect formula for mediocrity, it is also the perfect excuse for telling ourselves that we aren’t deserving of anything more than the regular average Joe.
For example, I always had a self-imposed imaginary ceiling and crossing that boundary made me feel embarrassed or even guilty. The conversation in my head often went like this, “C’mon Jane, you should know your limits and be content with what you have.”
I actively limited what I felt I was deserving of.
Now I’ve come to see that this mindset lacks integrity for personal growth and development. We deserve so much more out of our lives.
I’m not advocating that we become ungrateful pricks who are constantly unhappy with what we have at any point in time. Instead, I feel that we can keep aiming for greater heights and still be content with what we have today. There is no direct co-relation between the two ideas.
In my years of career training my peers and ex-colleagues, and having conversations with close friends about dreams and aspirations, I’ve noticed a similar trait in almost all of us – we have this deep fear of having bigger things in life. In fact, we secretly feel that we aren’t worthy of these bigger things at all.
On the surface, we may look really confident and preach that a life well-lived is the most important.
But when push comes to shove, we abruptly lose our voices. For ourselves, and to ourselves.
We end up clasping on to what we have at the moment, convincing ourselves that this is the best that we can get. Or we keep postponing executing that grand plan of ours with a zillion and one excuses, eventually settling for the same life we dissed because “circumstances did not allow me to go for my dreams”.
We get to be right about being unworthy of bigger things. We end up being victims of ourselves.
Moving away from the mindset of scarcity to one of abundance is a subtle but big step for me – it creates a huge shift to how I see, perceive and do things.
According to Stephen Covey, a mindset of abundance is the direct opposite to a mindset of scarcity. People who live in abundance believe that “there is plenty out there and enough to spare for everybody. It opens possibilities, options, alternatives, and creativity.” There is no competition, only sharing.
I super love the idea. It totally resonates with my dream of a world built on love, compassion, generosity and acceptance.
In fact, it has given me the courage to believe that whatever that comes my way will eventually turn out to be good. I only need to keep trusting myself and believing in what the universe sends me.
With the imminent departure from Buenos Aires, I’m not sure what I will experience next but I definitely know what I am going to leave behind. And even though that thought is daunting, I am aware that if we constantly allow fear to hamper all the things we want out of our lives, we will never live out of the box of scarcity. We will just always settle for second bests.
The more we keep doing something, the more it becomes a new normality. The more I keep doing the things I fear, the more the fear dissipates.
Breaking boundaries is discomforting, but not unattainable.
Time to enjoy the ride and keep watching this space, my dears *kisses*