The way I spend my time here in Belize is incredibly different from when I lived in New York. That mostly has to do with the fact that I don’t have a job. When I moved here, I made the conscious decision to give myself the time I needed to adjust to living in a new place and figure out what I wanted to do. I had no idea what that process would be or how long it would take, and it hasn’t been easy.
I underestimated how much not having a job would impact me. Initially, my discomfort was financial; I was used to having a steady income from years of working multiple freelance jobs. Looking deeper, I realized that I was also struggling with what it meant to not be working, and how much I defined myself by what my professional life looked like.
As things have been coming together a bit more and I’ve been busier, I have a greater appreciation for the free time I have. Not that I didn’t appreciate it before; I’ve been very grateful for not having to work, something that was a luxury I couldn’t afford in New York. It was even beginning to feel like a luxury to have free time at all, which was one of the reasons I left my hometown.
One of the biggest differences in how I spend my time here is that I don’t fill it up so much with doing. I like to have some balance between activity and rest, and don’t enjoy having every minute of my day scheduled. This actually fits very well here culturally, where folks aren’t so pressed about being perpetually busy. Traveling to Belmopan or Belize City for meetings and events a few times a week feels like a good, slow build. And with a recent work trip to Orange Walk and more coming up in Dangriga, I’m being mindful to continue choosing balance.
I’m aware that some people in my life are under the impression that I’m on permanent vacay here in Belize, lazing around on the beach sipping cocktails. Not exactly. There’s a lot involved in adjusting to living abroad and trying to establish myself professionally within systems that are different from what I’m used to. But as I’m getting some traction, I feel more empowered in the process.