Quien no arriesga, no gana

My friend Liz, who has lived as an expat several times, recently mused about why living abroad is so conducive to having adventures and why we don’t have more of them on our home turf.

“Is it inertia?” she asked. “Or high overhead? job-related fatigue? exhausting infrastructure?”

Yes, times four.

It’s also worth noting that adventure is defined as “an undertaking usually involving danger and unknown risks.” I can’t imagine myself taking risks at home the way I have done in Spain—risks that lead to moments of discomfort and vulnerability and frustration and loneliness and self-doubt and pride and self-confidence and resilience and bliss. When I feel especially uncomfortable—feeling tongue-tied during three and a half hours (!!) of small talk in Spanish with moms at a kid’s birthday party, as just one example—I try to remember that the bigger the risk, the bigger the potential payout.

N.B At that same three and a half hour birthday party, I traded phone numbers with the mother of a sweet boy Lou is getting to know through their shared love of Legos and science experiments. Yesterday the mother texted me to see if her son could come to our house to play while she attends a work meeting—my hours of wanting to be anywhere but at that party were not in vain!

3 thoughts on “Quien no arriesga, no gana

  1. Cheryl Freese

    I love this post Ellen! A great reminder that we need to take risks and get outside our comfort zone. I have been missing our conversations about life and all it has to offer but I’m so happy you get to experience life in a new place.

  2. merediemartinez

    Hi Ellen. We just arrived back in Minnesota yesterday. Phew! Yes a thousand times to what you expressed in your post. I am finding that I feel more confident and stress less about everyday things that used to worry me before living abroad. I know that I can push myself, be uncomfortable, nervous, even scared, and know that I will still be ok. Those birthday parties can be super challenging! I also experienced those same feelings when I was with David’s family members — without David — who only speak Spanish. Buying school supplies, uniforms, textbooks, etc. for the kids with his aunt was truly an experience!


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