I spent a few days this week in Antigua. Antigua is a historic town a few miles away from Guatemala City, full of old churches and cobblestone streets and touristy souvenir shops. Getting around Guatemala is always an adventure—especially when you’re doing it alone. But I booked a charter bus out of Xela, hopped on another crowded bus a few miles outside of Antigua, turned down a dinner invitation from a very friendly Guatemalan man, and arrived in a completely unfamiliar city around 7 PM.
Once I got off the bus, there was no plan. I had booked a hostel for the night, but had only a vague idea of where it was. So I grabbed my backpack and wandered around for a while. (You should note that the city center was full of well-lit streets and lots of people. Otherwise, I wouldn’t recommend wandering around in an unfamiliar city by yourself at night in Guatemala.)
I had planned to stay two days, but ended up staying for three. In the course of those three days, I wandered around the city, took lots of pictures, shopped for used books, and drank lots of coffee. I hung out on the hostel’s rooftop deck, made new friends, and had some great conversations. I was there, and I was present, and I wasn’t worried about sticking to a schedule or figuring out what comes next. Something about it was incredibly freeing.
But then, at the same time, I started worrying about “real life”. I started worrying about not having a plan. I may have said some things I regret, all because I’m so worried about what’s going to happen next.
There’s this myth that says we always have to have a plan. We have to know what’s next, we have to be responsible and financially stable and prepared for the future. And right now, I’m feeling the pressure. I am leaving Guatemala in a little over two months, and once my plane touches the ground in Chicago in June, there is no plan. It all makes me feel like an incredibly irresponsible person when I think about it too much.
But when I think about my experiences this week, maybe it’s okay not to have a plan. Even though my financial situation dictates that I can’t just be a wandering vagrant forever, maybe it’s okay to just be present or a while. To be receptive to new possibilities. To see what happens next.
It will be a new adventure, and for now I’m okay with that.