When I made the decision to come to Brazil to do my PhD, it seemed like the obvious choice to make. I was working at Squid's, an amazing restaurant to work at, but I knew that my life needed to progress and that I had to start getting serious about my future. After applying for a few jobs and not hearing anything back, the PhD was starting to seem like an attractive option and when Taciana invited me to do it in Brazil, I was sold.
Now let me just say that I've never been a big fan of doing research. While doing my master's at UNC, I went through a lot of psychological stress trying to write my thesis, and for those of you that are close to me, you know that's an understatement. Sure, many of you might be thinking that this is normal and of course I know that's true - graduate school and scientific research can be incredibly challenging for anyone, but I knew that something wasn't clicking for me.
I decided to overlook the fact that I didn't really enjoy doing research in my decision to come to Brazil because, in the end, finishing my master's and even having my thesis published was a big accomplishment for me and one that I felt proud of. I thought that this renewed sense of confidence in my ability would be enough to carry me to the next step up on the ladder of achievement. Well, like all external motivators (money, success, fame, etc.) it faded very quickly...
“You must give up the life you had planned in order to have the life that is waiting for you.” ― Joseph Campbell
One of my weaknesses was never really doing things for me, but in pursuit of the acceptance and admiration of others. This was my driving force for such a long time that without it, I felt lost. I didn't know how to really stick up for what I believed was right in my heart because I was afraid of how others would view me. Brazil taught me how to find the inner strength to do what was right for myself and to stop worrying about what others thought. This was the most important lesson I learned in Brazil - that at the end of the day, I was the face staring back at me when I looked in the mirror, and for once I wanted to look at myself and be proud that I had lived that day for me and no one else.
And so came the change of heart that I can no longer ignore or keep from the world: that I do not want to do my PhD. I have been given so many gifts to share with the world in this lifetime and I can't inhibit them any longer, even if it means that I have to leave Brazil.
Because no matter what, happiness does not exist in a certain location or in any place outside of ourselves - it exists inside of us and only when we are ready to go searching for it do we discover that there is a treasure inside each and every one of us. We all have a gift to give to this world and only when we stop looking for happiness outside of ourselves will we find it.
To be continued...