Four years ago I met a beautiful, peculiar American girl unexpectedly. Her skin was glowing, her smile lighted up the whole room, and her happiness was contagious. She had just arrived back to the States after having spent a full year in South Africa. She was free in a way that most of us aren´t, but I didn´t fully understand it.
Now in South Africa myself, I have been able to find that smile again, but this time, this smile is on the faces of the people here; the locals and the expats who have left their careers and families behind to pursue their true life calling.
But, when did these people find their true passion? Or better yet, when did they find the courage to fully embrace it?
Away from the society I know and the culture I understand, the loud South African drums playing rhythmically in the background drag me away from the beliefs that our culture demands from us, to what I realize is a table filled with people who are living their dream lives.
An American expat who chose to leave her law career behind in Washington, DC. in order to open her own safari lodge here in South Africa.
An Italian expat who follows a life of adventure and loves what he does - guiding tourists in the wild bush.
A local who left her management job at a safari lodge to open up a successful restaurant and brewery with her mother.
And finally, another local, who even thought shares my age, the anxiety of the question, “what are you doing after you finish your BA?” is unknown to him.
They are free. Free from the belief that time to reach the top of the “success” ladder is running out. Free from the fear that their life decisions might lead them to “failure.”
And so they sit around and smile. It´s the same smile that I had seen four years ago, and that same freedom that I am now able to fully comprehend. The smile that tells me that they have been able to put aside the belief that if we follow our heart to happiness we will fail, our time will run out, and we won´t meet the expectations that our culture has set up for us.
The South African drums stop playing in the background, and I am dragged back to review my own life. I am in Hoedspruit, South Africa, where the people around me are free.
Colombian, living and traveling the world (well- not so much at the moment) I am currently sharing my time between San Diego, CA and Albuquerque, NM.