Ok, yes, I made up that word. But, if you are following me on social media, you may or may not know that I recently headed to Puerto Rico. This part co-working, part vacationing trip was unplanned, but it was exactly what I needed. I also feel like it’s the beginning of a next chapter, so why not write about it? You know, in case someone else out there wants to do the same thing…
First, the Benefits of Traveling to Puerto Rico
About a month ago I (somewhat impulsively) decided to move here after I heard about a new co-working site that was opening. Puerto Rico had never been on my radar to travel to, and I didn’t know anything about it. Honestly, I hadn’t even realized that the house I booked was in Rincón – a three-hour drive to the far west side of the island – and not San Juan, which is the only town I had ever heard of.
However, I did a little more due diligence and discovered that Puerto Rico made a lot of promising offers:
- It’s an American territory, so no passport or visa is needed to go and stay.
- You don’t need a work visa, should you pick up some jobs while here.
- Cell phone service and wifi connections are both reliable and easy to find, so working from the island is easy.
- English and Spanish are both official languages.
- It has two major international airports, making leaving and traveling to other places is very easy.
- It’s called The Island of Enchantment and is full of amazing parks, caves, hiking trails, mountain bike singletracks, camping grounds and bright, starry nights.
“But it must be expensive to go there,” I thought. One quick search online proved that I was wrong. It took me about one week from the time I got everything lined up to when I was sitting on the plane.
And Now the ‘Why’
I think we’ve all had those days where something feels slightly off – like you just can’t put your finger on what’s out of place. It’s not exactly wrong; But it’s not quite right, either. Well, I’ve been having one of those days. Except it lasted for six months.
About a month ago, I saw a picture of someone who had tattooed “Feel the fear and do it anyway” on their forearm. I instantly loved it. It was a constant and permanent in-your-face reminder to always go beyond the boundaries of our own comfort zones. It validated my desire to always push the envelope and go into the unknown. And it reminded me of the things I still haven’t done because of fear. Namely, a lot more solo travel, international bicycle tours, and finally pulling the trigger on being 100% nomadic. I like to think I’m moderately brave, but when I think about those things, I don’t feel brave at all.
Some people like to assume that I’ve always been a die-hard cycling fiend. That I must be some masochistic person that considers hours-long cardio a relaxing past time. Other people ask me how I travel by myself, how I dare sleep in a tent in the wilderness with no one else around. I must be brave (or stupid) they say.
The truth is: Sometimes, I don’t like cycling very much at all and I seldom feel brave about it. Sometimes the headwinds and the rain and the steep incline are all too much and I just want to hail an Uber back to my apartment, where Netflix and a warm bed await. And, in truth, I still have a very healthy fear of the dark. I’ve definitely had nights where I was lying – wide-eyed and very much not brave – listening to the strange noises all around me. Only a thin layer of my tent between me and the scary world. And, I’ve gotten off a couple planes wondering what I’ve gotten myself into and how on Earth I’ve conceived the idea that discomfort and the unknown could possibly be better than my daily routine back home.
And then I realized: I followed the fear there. Not a life-threatening, fight or flight fear (I always listen to my intuition when it’s saying no). No, this is just a little twinge of saying to myself, “Look, I know you’ve prepared, and I’m pretty sure we’ll be fine. But we don’t REALLY know what’s going to happen here.”
That’s where growth starts.
Creative inspiration lives right on the brink of the unknown. As I’ve come to terms with this, I’ve grown comfortable with being uncomfortable. I crave it. And I’ve learned so much about myself in the process.
Try it and you’ll see – go to dinner by yourself, join a yoga class even though you feel insecure, take that vacation you’ve been waiting to find someone else to go with. Commit to doing something that makes you feel a little fear and watch what happens.
I’ll be honest, at first, it might suck.
You’ll be so aware of yourself that you won’t be able to enjoy where you are or what you are doing. You might use your cell phone as a crutch and sit at the bar or table buried in your friend’s social feeds. But then, slowly, you’ll be able to look up and realize that there’s nothing to be insecure about. That there are actually a surprising amount of other people doing the same thing as you. And then, you’ll even start to enjoy your own company, doing some of the things you’ve always wanted to do; And not doing the things you don’t. You might find a new hobby, meet new friends, or just read a really great book. But I promise you’ll grow in some capacity.
You can do this at home or while on vacation. If you are able to work remotely, even just for a week or two, I’d encourage you to try it out. You’ll see how a change of pace and a new environment helps increase your productivity and ignite your creativity. You might be able to finish that big project, solve tough challenges or even start a new business.
As for me, I’ll just be here in Puerto Rico, figuring out the next step. This was the push I needed, and now, I have a lot of plans for my bicycle and I that won’t be confined to the boundaries of California, or even the United States.
Words: Averi Melcher // The Pedal Project
Photographs: Averi Melcher & Outsite