Learning How to Let Go

I decide to take the long bus ride home rather than the direct one. I tell
myself it’s so I can do some reading, but I end up falling asleep. I wake
up halfway through the ride to the sunlight beating down on my face through
the open window. As old samba songs play through my earbuds, I realize this
will be my last time taking the bus here in Florianopolis. That this will
be my last time taking the route between the Center and my home in the
north. The same route I have taken the past four months to get to my
apprenticeship. I feel nostalgic for the time which has passed, the small
moments, and the opportunities both gained and lost. I also feel waves of
regret and remorse for all the things left undone and questions left
unanswered. Reflecting on my time here in Brazil tends to bring those two
feelings in tandem: the nostalgia of a year used wisely and the regret of a
year wasted.

My first months here were spent exploring with other fellows and settling
into my host community. I struggled through the language barrier, adjusted
to living with a host family, and worked to gain traction at my
apprenticeship. With the passing of Christmas and summer, I began to drift
away from my community. I made excuses for staying in, citing anything from
weather or a lack of someone to come with me. Slowly, my time was absorbed
by Netflix and my apprenticeship. Then, I received my college acceptance
and while I was beyond excited I also lost what little motivation I had for
the rest of my time in Brazil. I slipped back into my depression and barely
got out of bed during February. Not even my apprenticeship or final
community project could force me out of the cave my bedroom had become.
Self-doubt and criticism absorbed me. I questioned why I didn’t have close
relationships with other Fellows, or why my apprenticeship was so
unfulfilling, or why I was even in Brazil. Focused on all of the negative
moments from this experience, I pushed myself further into depression and
wasted an entire month alone in my room.

It was after reaching out to my team leader and expressing my concerns and
struggles I began to gain back motivation. I created a plan for my
community project and a list of goals I had for my time here. Through this
planning, I was able to focus on all the positives of my year and
everything left I still had to look forward to. During this time, I also
let go of the idea I had for most of the year that I needed someone else to
do things with. I began exploring the island alone going to restaurants,
markets, and dance clubs I have always wanted to go to. The act of being
alone and doing things alone allowed me to take ownership of my year and
make the last month I had in country one filled with memories and new
experiences like samba and forro. While I am still coming to terms with the
time wasted and lost to my own negativity and not doing things alone, I am
also reveling and reminiscing of all of the experiences of the past seven
months. I am learning how to let go of my own expectations and self-imposed
rules. I am learning how to let go of negativity and self-doubt. And I am
learning how to let go of things I can not control and own my experience.