Owning Happiness

By Becca, Tufts 1+4 Participant

It’s my last night in Brazil and I’m….happy? I set aside time tonight to write something profound. A pontification on life’s beginnings and ends, a graceful foray through my best memories in Brazil, and the things I’ll miss most of all, hammering the keys as tears stream down my face. And yet it’s here and I’m just… happy. There’s no question in my mind, I don’t want to leave, the last 8 months have been the best of my life and I very firmly believe that if I were to stay longer, my personal growth and happiness would only continue to develop. But alas, faz parte. That’s life. I’ve had an incredible experience here, and I can genuinely say that I regret nothing. I went through cycles over the last few days and weeks emotionally. Most of the time I was incredibly happy. Then something would happen, I’d realize it was the last time I’d ever do, see, feel that thing, and I’d be sad for a moment, maybe two. Then I’d lift my head, and realize there were 300 other things to turn my attention to, and my sadness passed quickly. I’ve thought a lot about why that is. My life in Brasil really has been my best life. The idea that any component of that is sealed away into a thing of the past is sad for me, because I’ve been so intensely enjoying the present. But at the same time, I’m immensely and authentically grateful for every bit of happiness I’ve experienced, because I viewed absolutely none of it as given. I had no expectations up until just a couple months before, that any part of this year would happen, certainly not in the way that it’s happening, and I was happy with where my life was at before. With zero expectations and zero sense that I deserved my happiness, every good thing that has happened to me has just been icing on the cake. That, and I really do feel like I did this year right.

I’ve formed meaningful relationships with people from all 5 major continents. I befriended a churro man with a startup, and a Chilean woman who aligned my chakras to ‘life’s tunes’. I made my own drum, performed in Carnaval. I went to Serra do Tabuleiro, Garopaba, Curitiba, São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Florianópolis. I went paddle boarding and surfing. I saw a penguin, cheered on a turtle, chased puppies. I climbed a tree and fell out of that tree. I reveled in the banal, and scoffed off the profound. I chased after many buses and missed many buses. I missed a flight. I had an entire airport conspire against me. Twice. I hitchhiked with a woman on her second day back from living in Kenya, and took an uber with a Palestinian man married to a Brazilian Jew. I collected pounds of trash, made paper, re-imagined my concept of waste. I contemplated the meaning of purpose, and the purpose of meaning. I had my phone stolen, then a month later got it back. I learned Portuguese, sucked at Portuguese, and absolutely slayed at Portuguese. I reveled daily in the wonder of language learning. I conducted interviews, and made a documentary. I protested and debated, and way more importantly, I listened a lot. I cooked pão de queijo and nega maluca and really awful beans and rice. I let other people cook me beans and rice and ate enough to last a lifetime. I developed addictions to açaí, Guarana, and paçoca. I drank way too much coffee and escaped a caffeine addiction. I did an obscene amount of paper machê. I gave speeches, and attended lectures. I went to bars and just talked for hours. I took long walks on the beach, and long walks through the city. I sat watching lightning until 3am. I swam in a thunderstorm, danced in the rain, danced Samba and Forró, danced and fought and played Capoeira. I fell in love. I cried, I laughed until it hurt, caught my breath, and laughed some more. I’ve learned and grown, and struggled and triumphed, and I don’t know if its just gap year cliches or if there’s some greater meaning, but this was my life, my real life, and I owned it. So yes. It’s my last night in Brazil. And I’m happy.