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photo: Antonella Saravia

I was living a lie. Yes, I, up until very recently, was pretending to have my shit together. And I don't think I'm alone in this. I’m sure other women have done the same: caring far too much about what people thought about me. It consumed me. That was until my 31st birthday where my friend declared this birthday year el año del despeluque.

In Spanish “despeluque” literally translates to untamed hair. Figuratively, it refers to the boisterous chaos of an untamed life. I thought, No! I'm sure she was referring to both. With time, “This Colombian bitch is insane,” gradually became, “Maybe she's onto something.”

“Este es el año del valeverguismo. Me vale verga lo que piensen de mi. Me vale verga si no encajo. Me vale verga si no les caigo bien.”

As in, "This is the year you stop caring. I don't care what people think of me. I don't care if I fit in or not. I don't care if they like me. Who cares?!"

I should mention that "valeverguisimo" is a crude way of saying you don’t care and those who genuinely practice it consider it a state of total splendor. 

I found myself in a combustible internal struggle. I cared so much about what people thought because I was scared to take the responsibility and accountability for what I thought. What if they think this? Or what if they think that? 

And then like the end of a magic trick, the fog faded: What if they are right? That was the one that set me straight more than once. Who is "they"? And what are they right about?

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I was never sure if “el año del despeluque” happened because of what she said or if she had simply just seen it coming. Regardless, she was right because that was the year that I began to leave the ponytails behind. For the years that followed it became a tradition. Each year, her outlandish claim revealed itself to be a brilliant prognosis.

As the months passed, it became annoyingly obvious what I was doing to contribute to my own unhappiness. Situation after situation, I began to get viciously whacked with the truth. I was over-explaining myself to people who didn't merit the details. 

I had this constant desire to be understood. I wanted to be seen as someone who always had her shit together. And when I felt that I didn't have it together, to be found out, to be judged, and my habitual reaction to that was to trust someone else's gut other than my own.

What I thought people thought about me was a direct reflection of what I was worried about.

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The one that makes you realize that you have a cool way of looking at the world when your heart’s not scared of being judged or labeled. It's the kind of attitude that let's other people be because they don't threaten your ideas, definitions, and goals. It’s the kind of attitude that encourages others to try the unlikely things to go on the absurd adventures, because in the end, isn’t that what we’re all here for? To be extraordinary.

Folks, you can't find your spark and be extraordinary if you're focused on what people are thinking.

The masses are random. The masses just assume. You can't go off that. There is no substance. You have the substance, and it's your job to trust it. What I learned about embracing valeverguisimo is to listen to what people have to say and take it with a grain of salt. Because it’s the thing that lets you be free.

Free feels good. Free isn’t at a cost to anyone else. Free helps you dream without fear. Free lets you let others dream, too. 

It's the thing that let's us dance no matter who is watching. It’s the thing that allows you to love unconditionally. It’s the thing that allows you to live wholly. It's the thing that writes great books, reveals great truths, and gives you the guts to figure out the coolest, most unique quest ever: who am I and why am I here.

It was a year worth having and a lesson worth sticking to. Stay tuned for 32, folks.

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