I had brunch with a guy on Sunday, and what was meant to be just a breakfast sandwich turned into a four conversation. And pizza. Oh and juice - who knew mango and basil is a great combination, right? Really refreshing.
He sat at a table in the shade, there was no one else at the cafe so he was easy to spot. His dimples were unmistakable too, I liked it when he smiled. It can be a bit awkward meeting someone for the first time, and I found myself talking faster than usual. When I realised this, I took a deep breathe and relaxed, and that’s when conversation flowed.
There’s that word again, flow. Lately it’s been popping up regularly on my social media, in conversations with people and sometimes, even at 3am when I’m bed. It asks me to look at my life in a way I’ve never seen it before. So, what does it mean to go with the flow?
It starts with walking in my truth, hand-in-hand with the weird part of me that kind of hides away in the corner in social situations. Especially in Peru - where I’m both free to be who I am, yet still feeling my way through an introverted culture. There are times when I feel too loud, too energetic - sometimes even too independent.
We talked about a lot of things, mostly philosophies on life and figuring out what’s next. There were times it felt like we were two friends catching up, and others, like two travellers who are at a rest stop on their way to the next adventure. He called it the traveler mindset - how it seems to be easier to bare your soul to a stranger because there’s no attachment. What have you got lose?
Oh and my friend Jorge’s back from over three weeks in Mexico too, which makes me happy because I know he’s always out on some adventure. During our pizza catch up, he asked if I wanted to hike to Lake Ahuacacocha. I felt excited about it because I’ve been itching to get out to the mountains for the last month. Then something interesting happened. When I texted him to ask what I needed to pack, he mentioned another friend of his would join us. Panic. What if I would slow them down like I did the other girls at Lake Churup? I actually told him maybe I should go another time, then went to bed.
Why do I do that? To doubt myself so badly that I would pass up something I know makes me happy? I woke up around 5.30am and read his messages. Don’t worry, we’ll go slow, come anyway. Sigh. This was it, I knew I had to say yes.
Something changed in me this last month - I noticed I was starting to lose confidence in myself. That cup was getting empty again, and I had been in denial about need to do things that will keep it full. My usual “go-for-it” attitude had been diluted by putting too much emotional investment into other people (and there’s nothing wrong in caring about people), like taking on their problems, fears, buying into drama, or becoming consumed with work. To put it simply, I distracted myself by making other people a priority.
There’s a saying to pay attention to the advice you give other people, because it’s probably advice you need yourself. What have I been talking about lately? I’ve been telling a friend to love herself more and set healthy boundaries in relationships. To realise that the louder the fear, the more it should convince you that you’re on the right path. Sigh. I’m a great cheerleader for others, who’s my cheerleader?
When people first meet me (maybe even those who already know me), even hear my backstory, there’s a misconception that I have it all figured out. Some might even put me on a pedestal. There are parts of me that do have it together - she’s fierce, creative, hard working and compassionate. On the flipside, I’m my biggest critic. The one who doesn’t like to people to help, to look weak, or let people in because maybe they won’t like my shadow parts.
That’s it, isn’t it? No matter how much we think we’ve healed those insecurities, they still walk alongside. By the way, remember the guy I met for brunch? He told me something that I’ve been thinking about lately. He said that when you’re at the edge of change, there are three steps that makes it happy, and each is harder than the next. The first is to realise what you want and start to think about how to do it. This is the easiest of the three. Secondly, it’s to face those fears and make the decision to actually to take that leap - to set the goals and make the plans. He said this is the hardest, because it’s a battle with yourself. Only you can give yourself permission to go for it! Last but not least, to follow through and take action. So, why is this easier than the second? He told me that once you’ve made that decision to move forward and take action, you see that going back into what’s comfortable is no longer an option.
I see it now, I’ve been stuck on the second step. Before I can fully dive into whatever awaits, I have a bit more work to do on myself - in my confidence, my emotional and physical health, and even my finances.
I’m not closed off to meeting the next love of my life, but right now, I need to be the priority. Do more things to fill my cup, and the rest will flow into place.
Ronna Grace Funtelar is a thirtyish storyteller, writer and slam poet currently based in Peru. She is a hobby hiker, photography and sunrise enthusiast with a passion for mindfully helping others live beyond their comfort zone.