Failure: I gave a speech about this at my alma mater 3 years back. I told the freshman looking expectantly at me that failure is a good thing. It means you are learning and growing. Without failure, you’re just coasting, allowing things to happen to you instead of contributing to your own life. I told them that failure has gotten me the success I have enjoyed so far: a bachelor’s degree from an amazing liberal arts school, a Fulbright scholarship to go to my motherland and a career in philanthropy.
Without my shitty public school as a hurdle, I wouldn’t have worked so hard to get out of my small town. I never studied abroad during my junior year, which compelled me to go halfway around the world to explore my roots. And without turning down an internship with a prestigious organization in D.C., I would have never found my place in philanthropy.
Only 6 days away from Christmas and it hardly feels close to being December. It’s unusually hot and sunny. I am schlepping my watermelon Publix reusable bag with my dense Macbook and items from my desk along with the mini coffeepot I bought for the office. The road no longer smells like homeless men’s defecation, all of the restaurants and street vendors have filled the air with enticing smells of pan de queso. It’s 2 pm, on a Friday afternoon, and the metro train is packed as I join the rest of the unemployed in Medellin.
I still believe everything I told those freshman a few years ago. Failure is necessary to move forward and as a wise co-worker told me today, “It can’t stop raining until it starts raining.” My time in Medellin has been trying. It has tested every part of me. Language. Work. Loneliness. Friendship. Skills. Relationships. Love. Everything. I think I still need time and space from this experience in order to know the fullest extent of my learning here, but I know that it has helped me grow.
I have been able to practice patience, self-reflection, self-awareness and street smarts. But it has also shed light on the areas I need to improve, like in respecting superiors, reigning in my pride, being less stubborn and staying positive and grateful for my life.
As I sit at Medellin’s best coffee shop, drinking the only iced coffee I have been able to find here, I listen to the rain pouring down on to the glass roof over the patio. I think about how happy I am. This is the life I chose. I set out to do this and I’m doing it. I’m not allowing myself to roll through life. I am actively pursuing life. I need to allow this latest “failure” to invigorate my soul to keep fighting for these choices and opportunities in life. I anxiously await what’s next, but first, let me road trip through Colombia with my Latin lover, DaVinci.