A season of Yes (in 3 questions)
Iguazú Falls, 2023.
My buddy and I went to Brazil this weekend. It’ll be tough to encapsulate every experience and insight I gained in those 48 hours but I’ll do my best.
Took an early flight on one-ish hour of sleep.
Stood in silence gazing at the most impressive spectacle of nature I’ve ever seen.
Finally found good pizza in Argentina.
Got spooked by some South American raccoons (coatis).
Found some more falls.
Swam in those falls.
Made friends with a Swiss, a Brit, and a German.
Got dinner with them.
Drank yerba mate next to the Paraná River—overlooking the three fronts of Argentina, Paraguay, and Brazil.
This weekend made me feel like I was 20 again.
Fearlessly asking strangers if they wanted to be friends simply because we spoke the same language. Jumping into strange waters. Staying up all night drinking beer and speaking Spanish.
I thought of the immature, blissful kid version of me who lived in Germany in 2014. This weekend I felt those same feelings of adventure and openness but in the mind of a 29-year-old with a business and his shit together.
Oktoberfest in Munich, 2014.
^^This guy was having the time of his life. But he was lost inside.
^^This guy is also having the time of his life. But he’s continuing to ask and answer some important questions.
Here are three questions I’ve been unpacking since I’ve been living down here in Buenos Aires.
What have I gotten most out of my time in Argentina?
In short: a ton of confidence.
Doing difficult things is a universally fulfilling feeling. Things like strenuous exercise, starting a business, or learning a foreign language.
Most of us can agree in conversation that doing this stuff would likely lead to an interesting and rewarding life. But it’s so unbelievably easy to not do them. Because well…they’re uncomfortable.
I’m reminded of this Alex Hormozi tweet:
It’s fun to tell people you’re moving to South America. It’s also fun to write blogs about your time there and to share photos of waterfalls that look fake.
What’s less fun is working tirelessly to get better at Spanish, maintaining relationships as fellow travelers come and go, and falling for someone you only have two weeks left with.
Starting is fun. Doing the daily work is hard.
In the last two months, I’ve…
cowered in my apartment for fear of speaking Spanish
cried from gratitude for my life
laughed until I cackled
built relationships I’ll have for a lifetime
become more of who I actually am: silly, adventurous, connected
The big lessons come from putting yourself in daily, unfamiliar, and awkward situations and seeing what you’re truly made of. Will you embrace this unease or shy away from it? Will you continue doing the grinding and unforgiving work when no one is watching?
The confidence I’ve earned has come from proving to myself week after week that I am in fact the kind of person who follows through.
“You don’t become confident by shouting affirmations in the mirror, but by having a stack of undeniable proof that you are who you say you are.” – also Alex Hormozi lol.
Why do well-traveled people seem to act 5-10 years older?
Between 18-22, I was a man-boy with long hair running around my college and beach towns getting wasted and trying to hook up with women.
Freshman dorm, Burnett’s Vodka, ~$18 per handle, 2013.
When I meet 18-22-year-olds who’ve been living in different countries, it feels like I’m talking to a seasoned 30-something. That’s because, as I mentioned in the previous question, this person is seasoned.
They’ve been on their own. Truly on their own. They’ve been forced to solve their own problems, find their own meals, and build their own communities.
I didn’t know how to do any of that consistently until I hit rock bottom at 23 and started taking control of my life. Because up until that point, all my problems had been solved for me.
High school was a joke. I gave minimal effort and passed just fine.
My mother is a saint and an incredible mom. But she took it a bit too far during my formative years by constantly cleaning up after my messes. She made the phone calls I put off. She requested extensions on deadlines I missed. She made sure I was always taken care of.
I sound ungrateful for complaining about it, but looking back I wish she had let me suffer more. You didn’t send in your application in time? Damn, guess you’re not going this semester. You didn’t call the doctor to set up your physical? Damn, guess you’re not playing soccer this season.
It sucks, but it’s through the suffering and the consequences that we learn a fundamental truth.
No one’s coming.
When you’re running a business, getting in shape, or traveling to a new country…Nobody is going to ride in on their white stallion and carry you to the promised land. No one will wave a magic wand and grant you clients, subscribers, friends, skills, a girlfriend, or abs.
It’s all on you. You have to stack the bricks to build the house. You have to find the raw materials. You have to build relationships and ask for help.
Growing up, I didn’t believe this to be true. I never told myself, “No one’s coming.” For me, it was, “My mom will probably take care of this.”
That didn’t sustain itself for very long.
I always cringe when I hear celebrities or athletes say their goal is for their children to never work a day in their lives. What an awful thing to do to a kid.
A better alternative would be to drop them in the middle of South America with a backpack, a passport, and $500. Then find them a year later and beam at their wisdom and grace.
I worry about the younger generation as I watch my little sister grow up.
GenZ is the first generation to be on social media before puberty. Preteen and teenage girls are experiencing skyrocketing levels of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation. Young boys are aging with increased levels of antisocial behavior.
I’m no expert, but I imagine spending 8-13 hours a day on a smartphone is not helpful. Constant stimulus. Food delivered in minutes. Infinite entertainment. Communication with anyone else who happens to be on their phone.
If we so choose, we never have to be bored ever again. We never have to wait ever again. It’s never necessary to be completely alone. We can open TikTok or YouTube and watch it from 8am to 2am.
When I stood gazing at the falls, I had completely forgotten what Youtube was. I wasn’t thinking about anything other than my friend and the water in front of me.
Anyway, I have no idea if traveling is actually making me a wiser person. But I certainly feel more aligned, more present, and more capable of handling whatever comes my way.
Am I ready to go back to the United States?
Easy answer: absolutely not.
I mean no insult to my friends and family back in the States. I’m thrilled at the thought of hugging them and being in the same room as them.
But I’m dreading my flight in nine days.
People have been asking me how I feel about going home. Here’s how I feel:
When we flew back from Brazil this weekend, I told my buddy, “Man, it’s good to be home.” I smiled as I walked the cobblestoned streets to get to my apartment.
My return flight to the States feels like I’m just taking another trip to a foreign country. It feels premature.
But I have no choice. I have commitments. And all chapters, all seasons, have their end. Some are more graceful and seamless than others.
It’s been a season of Yes these past two months. I’ve agreed to practically everything.
It’s led to more memories and insights than I had in the previous 12 months combined. And it will certainly go down as one of the most formative eras in my life’s library.
But I’m about to enter a season of No.
I’ll unpack this more in the next blog. But besides major events like weddings and bachelor parties, this summer there will be no:
I’m going full monk mode. My priorities will be growing the podcast, spending time with family, and publishing my book. Nothing else.
I have until September. Then I’ll most likely move back down to South America.
Then I’ll be back…home.