Before arriving in Argentina I developed some very robust fantasies. I spent a fair amount of time thinking about how this experience would unlock my true potential and people would fully recognize how truly special I was. My fantasies ranged from becoming a break-out soccer star, learning Spanish lighting quick and getting with all the cute Argentinian ladies. I think the bigger the fantasy, the farther away from reality, the deeper the insecurity that fantasy was developed to cover up. My experience in Argentina validated, on a personal level, this hypothesis.
The actual reality of my experience, I’m sure to no one’s surprise, differed greatly from my initial fantasies. My first days and weeks in Argentina would be better described as lonely, insecure and at times utterly depressing. Before I was enrolled in school I slept 12-14 hours a day, stalked friends at home on the good ‘ole book of faces, which I later deleted, over ate, spent weeks at a time being physically ill and watched tons of American TV. This cycle, painstakingly documented in my journal, lifted gradually as my Spanish improved, I cut off contact with friends from home and began to feel independent again.
It is funny, now, how before I began to skim through my journal I had about a dozen or so strong stories from my time in Argentina that I have gotten really used to telling people about my time there. These stories have come to dominate my memory. These stories are almost like the fantasy version of my past. People don’t want to hear about how depressed you were or how incredibly difficult you found it to be alone, they want to hear that you had an incredible life changing experience, ate exotic food, saw beautiful sights and made a fool of yourself, all of this punctuated by a moment of triumph where you overcome the adversity of adapting to a new place, feel comfortable and conquer. I, get it, I mean I think that it wasn’t just the external pressure from friends and family that pushed me to retell the same glamorous stories but my own desire to have my experience life up to my initial fantasies.
The sobering realization that the naivety I rested on to create fantasies about my trip, even once shattered, resurfaced after the trip and coated my memories in fantasy yet. It’s like I am terrified of reality, of my own reality that is. I fantasize about the future and create a fantasy world of my past. I think these pieces, which I keep alluding to but haven’t written yet, are sort of my response to my fantasies. They are me trying to tell myself, through the retelling of my very ordinary and mundane experiences in Argentina, every story is worth telling even if only to help you better understand what that story means to you. Fuck the fantasies, fuck what other people want your experiences to be, fuck what you feel you need to do to make other feels comfortable and just say what you’ve got to say. I feel like all this selective story telling bullshit Its has made it hard for me to learn from the valuable experiences I did have while in Argentina. The valuable experiences I had not learning Spanish quickly, not getting with any Argentinian women and utterly sucking at soccer.
These next posts are about those experiences.