This post comes from a dear friend Valentina, who I met when I was living in Bogota, Colombia. She introduced me to Venezuelan food and reggeaton music, was my patient spanish teacher at the office and taught me a lot about life (and still does!).
What matters the most to you, and why?
When asked what matters most to me, I immediately think “my family, my friends and having an impact.” That is my truth, but if I sit with it, the answer goes a step further to: connection. Connection to self. Connection to others.
My life does not have much meaning unless I honour my truth and add something to this world. It comes down to understanding what resonates with who I am and who I want to be, while understanding what that means to have someone else breathing a little easier because I was here. Staying connected to myself and to others makes me feel alive and like I have a purpose.
What do you choose to learn about, and why?
I mostly choose to learn about things that make me uncomfortable. I love learning about my demons, because it allows me to breathe a little lighter in the long run. I find comfort and peace in understanding my emotions and why I navigate the world the way I do. This knowledge enables me to connect with people deeply, because I can imagine how they feel and why. Learning about people’s stories is a gift to me and being trusted with those stories means a great deal.
I also choose to learn about feminism, because I do believe it has saved my life in many ways. Even though it can be exhausting, it has empowered me in ways I couldn’t have understood a couple of years ago. I learn about politics, because I know that politics are always personal. I like to learn about the “heavy” things, because they feel real to me. I choose to learn about other countries and cultures, because it is a constant reminder that my way of existing is not the only way to do so in this world.
I am currently doing my Masters in Global Affairs, and it has been fascinating to learn that so much interests me. It has also been overwhelming, since it can be difficult to understand how I can position myself within such a complicated system, while honouring my truths. Figuring out how to contribute, while taking care of myself is a constant balancing act.
What is your biggest fear, and why? And what helps you worry about it less?
My biggest fear always comes down to not being enough. Not being intelligent enough, not being good enough, not being perfect enough, not being beautiful enough, not being kind enough, not being strong enough, not being meaningful enough, not being memorable enough, and not being enough for myself or for others.
Any variation of “not enough” seems to feed that green monster of doubt and anxiety. It helps me to name it. It helps me to write this. It helps me to remember that so much of that comes from society’s unreasonable expectations, sexism, other people’s fears and internalized discourses that I do not agree with.
It helps me to imagine that “not enough” feeling is a little green monster. The moment I imagine a little green monster, I feel less scared. It helps me to talk to people who remind me of my light, when I have forgotten it. It helps me to recognize that the little green monster is there.
And even when I am scared shitless, I will do things anyway. That is my greatest strength. All I can do is find my path and have the courage to walk it.
Quieting the self-doubt, coming back to myself, and keeping things in perspective helps. It is a constant journey back.
Valentina, thank you for sharing your beautiful life with me and others and for thinking and dreaming big!