Se Optimista

I woke up early this morning, threw on my coat and the dirty lavender coloured crocs my friend’s tia makes me wear and padded downstairs to use the bathroom. It’s rainy season here in Mexico and the cold, heavy droplets feel fresh against my bare legs. I’ve always loved the smell of the rain, but here it has a particularly homey feel. I tottered back up the stairs (the crocs are way too big) and slid back under the cubijas that warm the mattress on the floor, while my friend turned over in his sleep on the sofa behind me.

For some reason, it’s mornings like this that make me fall in love with this place all over again. Maybe it’s because it’s nothing like the Mexico you see in magazines or on TV adverts. It’s my Mexico, in a house where I feel safe and protected despite what the news might say about la colonia. Maybe it’s because everyone else is still sleeping and the pitter patter of the rain being the only thing to break the silence allows me a minute or two of reflection. Or perhaps it’s because the downpour stops the dog upstairs trying to kill me every time I walk outside. I’m guessing a combination of the three.


“It’s a terrible thing, I think, in life to wait until you’re ready. I have this feeling now that actually no one is ever ready to do anything. There is almost no such thing as ready. There is only now. And you may as well do it now. Generally speaking, now is as good a time as any.” – Hugh Laurie

Coming to Mexico always throws me off guard. This used to frustrate me, scare me even, but I’ve come to realise that if a yearly three week trip has the power to shake me up so much, there must be something in it.

A while back I stopped believing in “plans”, especially when it comes to long term life planing. I had rough ideas of course; a masters, then a PhD, (basically stay in university until I’m old and decrepit) but nothing solid or inspiring enough to aim for apart from simply proving to myself that I could get better. I’m still not a fan of being too rigid in my future ideas – I know as well as anyone how easily life can throw those out of whack – but I do think it’s time I set my sights on something more.

There’s nothing wrong with my desire to recover; the problem lies in continuing to set my sights too small. I believe in being adaptable, however as I lie here scrawling this thought stream onto my keyboard, I’ve realised that my aversion to big goals/dreams/aspirations, rather than set plans, is due to a fear of failure. If you don’t aim to high, you don’t have too far to fall.

This type of thinking got me through my recovery, and for that I’m grateful. It gets you through the little steps to the big goal, but it doesn’t set the big goal in the first place. Am I making sense? I think that what I’m trying to say is that for a long time, my main aim has been to get through the next day, next week, next month without losing my mind again. This created a fear of doing anything out of my comfort zone that might shatter this stability that I worked so hard to create. Top that off with a life long fear of failure and voilà, the perfect cocktail for wrapping a safety blanket around my shoulders and setting my sights on something smaller (and less risky) than what I really want.

I’ve talked about moving to Mexico to study my masters since I studied here for my year abroad. Everyone who knows me knows just how much I love this country, as well as how much coming here changed my life. I hadn’t fully given up on this dream, but the thoughts of it were half-hearted. Aloud I’d say that it was an option, or something I really wanted, but on the inside I really wasn’t sure if I could achieve it. Being here has rekindled the drive I’m going to need to make this happen. I can’t just sail on by with this one, just as I couldn’t with my recovery. If I’m going to make it here I’m going to have to give my all, 110%, fighting the doubt and fear all the way. It means studying Spanish harder than I ever have, working my butt off to save money and most probably setting up a permanent camp in the library.

I’m scared because apart from my recovery, really committing myself to something has never been my forte. Or I suppose, it’s never something I’ve seen as my forte. But I think I’ve got this. An old friend who I love dearly (who happens to still be snoring behind me) recently showed me that by setting his mind to something, he could achieve his goals. Maybe I can do that too.

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