A Few Words on Failure

Image may contain: cloud, sky, ocean, tree, beach, outdoor, nature and water

Image may contain: ocean, sky, cloud, twilight, outdoor, water and nature

I thought moving to Grenada made me a successful adult. Finally living on my own, somewhere new, paying rent, living my own life.

I’ve come to learn that success is not a one step thing. It’s a process. I’m not suddenly a prime example of a functioning grown up. I am still learning. I’m learning how hard real life is, and how scary change is. I’m very slowly getting adjusted.

My initial posts about coming here were about my excitement, my gratitude, and my hopefulness. But it hasn’t all been rainbows and unicorns. There have been ups and some really bad downs.

Towards the end of my first week I began spiraling downward toward a mental breakdown. How can that be? I’m in such a beautiful place, living the dream, escaping winter, escaping work.

The age old saying from Wizard of Oz had it right: there’s no place like home. While it’s so warm and beautiful here, I eventually realized, like most things, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting.

There was some culture shock, I guess you could say. I’m so accustomed to the convenient, and quick lifestyle of America. I’m a first world person, and this is technically a third world country.

I’ve had frustrations about the shower giving either boiling or freezing water, about not always being able to get wifi, about walking up hill after hill after hill.

I didn’t feel safe either. I was once nestled into a woodsy nook, safe from the outside world. Now I’m fully immersed into a very residential area. Men who live across the street from me shout at me as I walk by. Men are more upfront here. In one week I’ve been asked more times than back home in a week if I’m married or have a boyfriend.

Not to forget that there is a serial rapist who escaped from prison on the loose.

Something shook me up one day. An old man came up to me on my porch to beg for money. I felt bad for him because he had some kind of eye issue and said he couldn’t afford his eye drops. I went in to get some money and he followed me into my apartment, which made me uncomfortable.

I later found out he goes around telling that story and getting money from people, but has nothing wrong with him. I had a feeling that could be the case, but I’ve never been good at turning people away. I kicked myself for losing money to a scam.

But the thing is, you learn. I didn’t know exactly what to say in the moment that he asked for money, but now I have a few words prepared in case he or someone similar comes back. First I would let them know that they were trespassing by coming onto the Inn’s property, and secondly I would simply say, “I can’t help you, sorry.” I don’t need to feel bad about this.

I did feel bad for a while though. I felt like I wasn’t as safe on my porch as I thought, and even my apartment. I was also coming back from an emotional day just prior to that day, so it really didn’t help.

I was feeling so homesick. Nights were the saddest because I usually am alone, and I wouldn’t feel safe to go out alone at night, but I don’t really have friends other than my sister. I didn’t have anyone to keep my company because my sister’s husband likes to have alone time with her after school so I would leave before nightfall.

I began to miss the simplicity of living with my parents. Now I have to buy all my own food and pay rent. I was struck by the anxiety of being unemployed while spending as much money as I’ve been. I began to feel like being here was absurd. All the changes hit me and I was feeling so overwhelmed and afraid. I was missing my dogs, and my rabbit, and my family, and my friends.

I started to feel like a failure. I couldn’t handle being here, on my own. I couldn’t handle the change. I was so excited to come here, but when I felt depressed for those few days, it was very discouraging.

I even looked at flight prices and considered buying a ticket for a flight two weeks away. I considered, but then I exited the tab.

The thing about failure is you only fail at something if you give up on it after making a mistake or two. I decided not to give up on this trip. I felt like a failure when I struggled mentally, because one of the main reasons for the trip was to benefit my mental health. I thought if I can’t be happy on an island, I’ll probably never be happy.

But I’m not leaving. The past two days have been significantly better. I video chatted a friend, then my parents. I also started talking to an online counselor. There’s nothing wrong with getting help. Depression and anxiety don’t just leave you because you go on vacation.

I was feeling really good. I had gotten a driver’s license here because I planned to rent a motor bike. I was excited, but when I had my little melt down I thought I had gotten it for nothing, spent the money for no reason.

Well, I can proudly say I did not give up on that either. I rented a motor bike, and learned how to ride. The renter spent some time with me to make sure I was capable. It felt amazing! Now I wouldn’t have to walk everywhere. I wouldn’t be as exhausted by the end of the day.

Today is my first day with the bike, and I still need to practice a lot. I was making a turn out of my sister’s driveway, and I accidentally went too hard on the accelerator, and since I’m not used to driving with my hands it wasn’t my instinct to let go of it. I rammed into a curb and flew off the bike.

The little accident left me feeling shaken. I wasn’t hurt badly, just scratched up and covered in dirt. I mostly injured my ego. Several people drove past and asked if I was okay, and I was just embarrassed that they saw what happened. I felt foolish.

I thought, “Maybe I should just return the bike and get my money back.” But you can’t give up just because of one mistake. I thought I had failed, but the truth is I’m just learning. I had the bike literally less than one day. I need to give myself more credit. It could have been worse too. I’m glad I only hit the curb and not a parked car, or even worse a moving car.

So I haven’t failed at living here, I haven’t failed at riding a motor bike. I won’t give up. I will press on. I will practice. I will learn. I will learn how to get around the island on my own. I will learn the culture here. I will learn about life, and I will learn about myself.

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