Practice Saying No {in Bolivia}

I’m currently in Bolivia…practicing a concept that’s much needed and yet extremely difficult. Saying No.

We all have our limits- most commonly I jump over mine in honor of seeking a thrill, relevance of some sort, or even validation that I’m needed in order to make something more enjoyable- more worthy. It’s in the moments of saying no- going against the group grain, that I feel the most terrified and releeved.

It’s important to challenge yourself. I’ve talked about that before, but what I am learning is it is equally as important to know yourself. To know your limitations and to be okay with being different than the masses. I’m currently traveling with a group of students who are soaking up every opportunity to try something new; I know that it is my responsibility to encourage their growth and exploration. I want to provide every opportunity possible for expanding their worldly knowledge while recognizing where I am in my own journey. You cannot feed if you are starving yourself.

I came into this trip from a really dark place. It’s been a dark year or two and I know that it’s related to my continuous need to please. I practiced saying yes, which meant I was committed to saying yes to everything that scared me. I asked my boss for the freedom to develop a service-learning abroad initiative, I climbed a small ladder up a HUGE tree and went ziplining in Costa Rica, I did the roommate thing, I dated, I joined a church, I was baptized, I committed to a strenuous workout and diet regiment and lost 50lbs, I went to Jamaica, I bought a solo plane ticket to San Fran, I started working part time in the gym, I walked away from a secure job in pursuit of my passion, I called my therapist when I wanted to give up.

I said yes.

I learned a lot.

I found peace in trying and exploring and meeting and living and growing.

I walked thousands of feet closer into self love through saying yes and pushing through the darkness.

The clouds are lifting on a new season. A season where I am much more secure in who I am- even if other people don’t like it. The Soles4Souls rep said something yesterday that stuck-I’m going to tell you the truth…whether you like what you hear or you don’t. That’s powerful. It’s been humbling to be around someone who is so pleasantly pleased with who they are and what they are doing with their life. That’s the season I’m walking in to.

I’ve worked with mentors to set up a variety of informational interviews to start sorting through who I am and what I want to do with my life. I told myself o was committed to powering down in order to figure it out. Bolivia has been the absolute PERFECT place for it.

I look at my stomach rolls in the morning adoringly as they represent my feeding my struggles instead of quitting. I gained a lot of weight. I also chose to keep loving myself even when I was so very disappointed in who I was becoming. I’ve spent the last year beating myself up for gaining weight and on this trip- I looked at the mountains and thanked God that he helped me continue to breathe through the pain- through the darkness. Food kept me alive– it’s like although it wasn’t the best coping strategy, it made me fully aware of how I cope and what behaviors I need to change in order to find a new coping strategy.

My rolls, stomach pooch, and back fat are the shield I needed to keep trying to live. Seeing my weight in Bolivia has been such a gift. It’s through the journey of getting here that I have peace with my ability to lead. I have peace with my ability to make difficult decisions. I have peace with my ability to say no.

The world didn’t stop. Everything didn’t go perfectly and it blossomed into this beautiful story. I knew I was ready.

I knew a few weeks ago that I was walking into a new season- the problem was that I was too terrified to embrace it. I was afraid of saying no. Of disappointing someone or making the wrong choice. Now I see that all decisions are scary. Every decision comes with some type of outcome. I can’t sit still any more trying to rationalize and critique EVERYTHING.

I can say No, or Yes, or I don’t know- and guess what? I’ll be just fine. Guess why?  Not everyone is going to like me… And that is finally okay.

I’m loud, I’m adventurous at my own pace, I’m loving, nice to nice people, and I pee a lot. My laugh lights up a room (good bad or indifferent!), I love music and to dance. I love traveling and meeting new people. I love the concept of Jesus and I pray with my full heart that it’s all real.

What I know for sure is I am me; I know myself best. It’s damn well time I start believing in myself as much as I believe in others. Life is too unpredictable to be saying yes to things that I know are a hard No, and to short to say no to things that I know deep in my heart, are an absolute yes.


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