Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Struggling with the Feeling of "I Should"

I arrived in Honduras with a wicked cold, the kind of cold that takes three days of build up just to reach its pinnacle before knocking you out of the game for another two days. I was excited to finally reach the island of Utila, where we planned to stay for the next month, but my energy was completely zapped. The only thing I was up for was reading books. Lots and lots of books. I didn't even want a glass of wine to accompany my reading time, which if you know me is saying a lot about how sucky I was feeling (clearly my vocabulary didn't benefit from all that reading if I'm still using adjectives like 'sucky').

It's been almost four weeks that we've been in Central America and I'm currently on my ninth book. At the beginning of our trip I felt incredibly guilty for this. The first few days in particular, when I wasn't up for much of anything else, I read four books in a week (The Happiness Project & The Divergent Trilogy, for those who are curious).

Rehab in the afternoon, Utila, Honduras
My extra happy face
I didn't love the trilogy but it was fast-paced and kept me entertained. It was so similar to The Hunger Games though that I was thisclose to putting it down. But then the feeling of "I should" came creeping. I struggle with feeling like I should finish each book I begin. Especially now that I download books, I don't always have a way to flip through the pages catching little snippets of dialogue to see if the plot and characters are interesting. But I feel like I should finish what I begin, even if I'm not enjoying it. Completion will be rewarding in itself.

A couple days later, I was lying in a hammock watching the reflection of the water dance across the roof of the porch and despite the tranquility of the moment, I couldn't help but feel the weight of obligation. I should be doing more. Who goes all the way to Central America just to read? Why don't I go swimming or biking? Kayak to the cayes off the island? Go diving? I feel like I should be active! Do more! Make memories!

Wall mural Utila Honduras
Getting off my butt to go exploring. Where does the door lead?
Scuba diving in Utila Honduras
Coming back from my first dive
That nagging feeling also extends to social situations. I mentioned in yesterday's post that your social life in Utila tends to revolve around whichever dive shop you choose. Most travellers come to Utila to scuba dive, but the shops also rent out snorkelling gear, kayaks, and charter boat trips for whoever is interested. All of the dive shops partner with guesthouses to provide accommodations, bars, and/or communal areas. The majority of people who come to Utila are my age so by all accounts you'd think I'd fit right in.

I suppose it's not really a matter of "fitting in" though, but more so that I'm just not really interested in partying. The social scene here reminds me of university. I had a fantastic time going out in university but things are a lot different when you're not single nor interested in drinking your face off. On top of that, Matthew has difficulty hearing so loud atmospheres are tough for him. I feel like a snob sometimes because we decline group invitations all the time. I enjoy quiet time with my husband, watching the sunset, having dinner, and going to bed before midnight. That seems to make me an anomaly with fellow backpackers in Utila, but I'd rather hang out with M than anyone else. He's my bestie, what can I say?

Those low-key days on the bay led to some quiet introspection and for me I think it comes down to the realization of accepting my likes and dislikes instead of trying to pursue what I feel I ought to like. Not every day has to be go-go-go. If I want to hang out in a hammock during the blistering heat of the afternoon, enjoying a book and relaxing quietly, then that's okay! I like socializing, but prefer smaller groups where I can be involved in conversation and not just yell in someone's ear. I've met some really interesting people, I just tend to meet them on my terms.

Perfect afternoon
Enjoying the sunset, reading a book, sipping a mojito
I hope this post doesn't sound like I'm complaining. I'm just airing my thoughts and trying to work things out to myself. As I become more in tune with who I am, it's freeing to release myself from these self-imposed obligations. The phrase "I should" is such a buzz kill for me. What I've turned to instead is simply embracing the freedom of hanging out in Central America and experiencing life in the moment. I don't have to actively "make memories" by orchestrating activities. Memories can be made just by having fun.

Do you also struggle with the feeling of "I should"? How do you overcome it?

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  1. Just got mostly caught up in all the posts I've missed lately, and man I'm jealous of your traveling adventure!! Do you speak some Spanish or none at all? What made you guys pick Central America instead of anywhere else? [You may have posted about these a while ago, but I haven't read the archives, just mostly the things you've posted since I started following you a month or two ago :)]
    And I love your take on "I should..." Definitely just enjoy your moments the way you want to :) Keep the updates coming! They're so fun to hear (read) about :)

    1. I was fortunate enough to take my first Spanish lessons in Oct. and Nov. before coming to Honduras in January, but that being said my ability to speak (and especially understand!) is still very limited. In Guatemala I'm going to take some more lessons so I can better navigate through the rest of CA. Right now we're in Belize though which is a great break for my brain as everyone speaks English with a gentle Caribbean accent here. We chose this area for a combination of reasons like timing, proximity, and sticking to a tight budget :)

    2. So fun :) I speak Spanish pretty fluently, so I'm totally jealous because I wish so badly that I could be immersed in the language and culture! But Husband speaks Portuguese, and as a result, hates Spanish, so idk if it will ever happen for us! Haha :)

  2. It took me 40 years to realize everything you just said above D. Kudos to you for the realization in your 20' just have that much more time to live your best life on your terms. What could be better?

  3. Yes yes yes! It's so easy to put the pressure on yourself and say 'I should..', especially when you are traveling. I know I am so guilty of this! I guess at the end of the day, you just have to remember that we are all different and what is right and fun for someone else, isn't necessarily what is good for you. How boring would life be if we all wanted the same thing!? Great post x

    1. Such great advice Sammy! Glad you're on the same page and can feel me on this.

  4. most importantly, your 'extra happy face' is the best. love it. and also, amen to "accepting my likes and dislikes instead of trying to pursue what I feel I ought to like." you should read the book Quiet :) also- are you on goodreads?

    1. haha thanks Jennifer! I haven't heard of Goodreads before, what's that? I'm off to look up Quiet now :)

  5. Yes, I noticed how similar the Divergent trilogy is very similar to the Hunger Games. Wow, that is a lot of reading, I love to read too. Unfortunately many people would disagree lol. It doesn't feel like complaining at all, I never thought about it, but I struggle with "I should," as well.


  6. I totally get what you're saying, I always feel like I 'should' do things, but at the end of the day you've got to do what makes you happy, not what you 'should' be doing! When I get stuck in the trap, I always try and break it down - why should I? If it's a good enough reason, then I probably will do whatever it is, but nine times out of ten it's just because that's what society expects and that's not a good enough reason!

  7. I was literally sitting here reading your blog thinking how I should be lesson planning. This post really struck a chord with me. I'm happy that you are living life as you want and not weighed down by lists and shoulds. WE SHOULD get a drink when you come back home :) and forget all of our shoulds.

  8. Doesn't sound like complaining at all! I think everyone struggles with " I should". Lord know I do!lol!
    This is your trip and you should enjoy it on your terms :) If you want to spend most of your timing reading then you should! I love to read and it's my favourite thing to do when I'm away! Besides who cares if others are out can party anywhere anytime. How often do you get a chance to lay in a hammock surrounded by such natural beauty and just relax :)

    xo, Jackie


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