A Rough Entry Into MexicoNov 30, 2022
A arrived in Mexico last Monday where I'll be living for the next 2 or so months! So exciting!
My 2 days of travel getting here were filled with moments of anxiety, some things that went wrong, and some circumstances that turned out ok just in the nick of time.
I had airline credit that was going to expire, so rather than an easy direct flight, I used it and booked a flight with a layover that made for a very long travel day and late arrival into Cancun.
The plan was that I catch a bus to the town an hour away where I had a hotel booked less than a block away from the bus station for the night, and catch a bus the next day for the next 3-4 hours of my journey, where a friend would pick me up and take me to the town I'm staying in.
What I didn't foresee was....
- Having my bags thoroughly searched by security on arrival in Mexico, & feeling intimidated in that process.
- The search process taking so long that anxiety would build to an even more intense place, fearing I'd miss one of the last buses out, as well as miss checking in to my hotel before the desk closed at midnight, and being left downtown in an unfamiliar city alone with all of my bags late at night.
- Calling and messaging the hotel repeatedly asking them to please wait for me with no response. (because I know that saying you close the desk at midnight could actually mean anytime here)
- Pulling into downtown on the bus, and realizing this really isn't a safe place for me this late at night and I'm gonna have to think quickly if I can't get into my hotel.
- Running down the street with my bags to find a locked gate at the doors to my hotel - anxiety rising to an all-time high, as a man (who I assumed to be maintenance) appeared on the other side of the gate to let me in, gave me the handwritten notes in English from the desk staff, and my key to my room. Whew....
- Getting less than 3 hours of sleep even though I was exhausted since my brain wouldn't shut off, and waking at 6 am to get to the bus station and figure out when the bus went out~ having just enough time to run back to my room, grab my bags, & board the bus.
- Having the bus driver drive straight through the town he was supposed to stop for me to get out, and then dropping me off on the side of the highway with my bags outside of town, refusing to turn around.
- Having my friend who was coming to get me, see me on the side of the road and save me in minutes. Whew!
I've spared you a TON of details, here, but you get the picture. It was way longer and way more stressful than anticipated.
Whenever I experience something that feels stressful, I like to take some time to review the whole experience. I journal, I sit with it, and I try to extract any lessons that can from it to carry forward.
This is what I came up with...
1) When we see people's lives & adventures online, we usually just see the fun parts. There are always gritty, stressful, unpleasant parts too. Remember this when you feel jealousy or comparison to other people's lives online in general
2) Developing tools that work for you to be with your emotions and calm your nervous system is invaluable! I used almost every tool I had in those anxious moments, and it helped so much. Even though I did not escape anxiety, I was able to remain calm (enough😉), think clearly, and know that I would be okay.
3) When we can learn from our experiences, we know how to do things differently next time. I have noted several different things I will do next time to make things feel smoother & safer for myself. Hiring a private driver for a 4 hours ride seemed excessive when I could just jump on a bus, but next time, that's what's up for sure!
4) Things almost always work out WAY better than our anxiety tells us they will. This is something that's good to hold in mind when anxiety strikes!
5) Usually, the things in life that we most want (in this case the experience of living in Mexico for the winter) comes with some shit that you have to trudge through in some way. Growth and experiences always come with some circumstances that help you grow & learn.
6) Contrast is a helpful thing. After having a stressful & exhausting trip, when I entered the home I'll be living in for the next bit of time, I felt like I was in heaven! And I soaked that feeling in fully! I'm not sure that my arrival would have felt that ecstatic had my journey here been smooth?! It's like eating your favorite meal after fasting for days or feeling good after being sick for a while. I love the feelings that contrast brings me! And that's a great thing to appreciate after you go through something stressful.
Do you take time to evaluate stressful circumstances in your life after they happen?
Are you able to extract some lessons?
Are you able to notice what tools you have that help you through them?
I think that when we learn from the things that feel tough, we gain so much.
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