Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Deciding to Hit the Reset Button

I've been planning this trip since I graduated with my Baccalaureate degree in 2010.  At that point all I knew was that I had 3 years of graduate school still ahead of me and I'd want a serious vacation/reward at the end of it and boy, did I ever.  Somewhere in here I decided that I only needed 10 days time to graduate, move, unpack, repack, and leave for Mexico.

It all sounded simple enough.

Apparently I forgot to factor in the burnout that plagued me for two months after I defended and just how much energy is zapped by moving because the night before my flight came around and not only was I not mentally prepared for my trip, I wasn't even packed!

Trying to pack for 3 countries in a 50L rucksack
I'm still not entirely sure how I got my bag packed and a couple hours of sleep before my 4:15am ride to the airport. From the minute I locked my pack something felt off.  Like I was forgetting something. I later figured out that it was my hard drive with all the data I needed to finish my papers but the feeling of unease stayed.

Once I reached Mexico, I was greeted with a string of annoyances.  Constant rain in Cozumel maimed my diving books which I later forgot in my hostel. Persistent blood-crazed mosquitoes. Unpleasant immigration officers.  And finally someone stealing $45 out of my backpack.  All of these things are aggravating in their on right but nothing serious.  However when combined with my growing sense of unease and distractedness, I was heading down a road where I could make some serious mistakes.  When I finally arrived in Belize City, I didn't want to go any further. No more buses. No more border crossings. No more looming science.  No more feeling helpless about finishing these research papers.  I had little energy and could barely bring myself to find some sort of lunch situation despite not having eaten in 15 hours.

I was sulking in my hotel room, trying to figure out my next move and feeling like I was failing at the trip I had talked about incessantly for the last three years. Then I remembered my brother had recently posted something about leaving for his Michigan to California road trip which was starting about the time my current plans were ending.  That minute I really wanted to make the trip with him. How many people can say they've road tripped the American Southwest with a brother/sister?

How my mind felt with ticket to CO in hand
A few messages back and forth, and I was booking a plane ticket to Colorado.  A few more days and it was decided that I'd spend a week road tripping with my brother, then a week at my parents, followed by a week with the Boy before returning to Mexico.  The change in my attitude was remarkable.  I had gone from mental wading through the most dreary of bogs to being excited about adventures to come, organizing my things, and brushing off all of the annoyances that had been piling up.

Here I am a month after I initially left for Mexico, preparing to go back at the end of the week, and I am in an exponentially better place than one I initially left.  I'm not sure that my to-do list in any smaller but I feel like I have a better handle on it.  I've spent a bunch of time with family which was something I didn't feel like I had a chance to do in the chaos of graduation and moving.  I'm feeling more connected to what's going on around me, and super excited to go back to Mexico.

Hitting the reset button cost me financial.  Exact budget damage is still TBD. I didn't get to experience a huge chunk of Guatemala, and some of Mexico.  What I gained more than makes up for it though.  I got a week with my brother that I'll always remember. Time with my Mom, Dad, and other brother with nothing planned. And finally, some time with the Boy after a very sparse three months.  I've remembered that they entire point of this trip was to do what I wanted to do which includes changing my itinerary. Could I have worked through things in Central America and come out okay? Yes, but I saved myself a lot of angst and gained so much more by saying "start over."

Have you ever made the difficult decision to "reset"?

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