I distinctly remember how I found out about Unsettled. I was 32, a corporate lawyer at one of those huge firms and rapidly approaching burnout. As I sat at my desk at 3am for the sixth night in the week, I read a New York Times article about Unsettled in Medellin. There was a line that struck me: “Everyone feels unsettled at some point…why not embrace the uncertainty?”. A few months later, following some cursory Google research, I took one of the riskiest decisions of my life and was on a flight to Buenos Aires. After all, if the company was featured in the New York Times, it must be credible, right? (The answer to that is yes!).
How Unsettled changed me – “embracing the unknown”
Unsettled was a transformative experience. I fell in love with a new culture and I truly embraced the unknown. Spending time with 30 complete strangers from all over the world was a huge gamble. But looking back, in every interaction, in every moment, even if it wasn’t obvious at the time, I learnt something from each of those amazing, intelligent, warm people. At its heart, Unsettled is about human connections. I made friendships that will last for life and experienced moments of love and hope that have indelibly marked me.
Unsettled also blindsided me – there were times I felt disoriented because my core values were being questioned. Deep, meandering conversations that made me reflect and reassess into the early hours (as a true Porteno!); I questioned everything I stood for, and why. Ultimately it reaffirmed my fundamental beliefs, but critique and challenge are what I needed without realising it. I stepped out of my comfort zone in every way possible; from spending a weekend on the Tigre delta in flats and not heels (really, this was a moment of clarity!) to discovering live blues with beautiful souls to having my breath taken away under the Iguazu Falls. I reached out and took into my arms the unsettledness I had tried so hard to quash.
In Argentina, I experienced love, sadness, provocation, exhilaration and uncertainty. I experienced a kindness from strangers that made me, finally, weep. I felt raw. I felt my heart open to new possibilities. It gave me the courage to make the drastic changes in my life that I needed. On the 14-hour flight back home, I re-read the letter we had been asked to write to ourselves on the first night, and I cried as I saw how much I had grown. I had learnt that to be happy, one must truly understand one’s self and true happiness, that explosion of unrestrained carefree joy that stirs the heart, is dependent on me and me alone.
Thank you, Unsettled.
Thank you for giving me perspective. Unsettled means different things to different people; for me, it was more than “just” a “co-working retreat” – it was an experience that changed my life for the better.
In enduring friendship and love,
Buenos Aires Alumni