Author: Belén Alemán

Success As Seen Through Your Eyes

I had another blog post in mind for this week, but I’ve decided to detour. The reason: there are two very important people in my life that are graduating this year, one from high school and one from college, and I feel the need to dedicate a few words to both of them. It’s always been interesting for me to observe the differences between how we see ourselves versus how others see us. Both of the ladies for which I’m writing this post have told me, on numerous occasions, that they admire and look up to me, mostly due to my successes thus far in life. However, it came as a shock to me that they would say this since, until a few months ago, I didn’t consider myself to be successful. So, being the way I am, I had to analyze this discrepancy. What were they seeing that I was missing? Once I got down to it, I realized I had contracted the syndrome of measuring success based on the amount of money I …

write

Just Write

I wanted a tattoo really badly but, then again, I was 18, and at that age you want everything really badly. Your youth convinces you that it’s all or nothing, now or never. So, during a moment of enlightenment, I made a pact with myself: if by the time I turned 25 I still wanted the same design, I would get it done, no questions asked. My 25th birthday came and went, and so did my design idea. Looking back, I’m extremely thankful I didn’t get that tattoo. I was also quite happy –and impressed—with myself for managing to be so patient and waiting it out, slowly but surely growing out of my everything-has-to-happen-right-now-or-else immaturity. And, although I still wanted a tattoo, I firmly believed that one day I’d simply know what to get. I chose to trust that my intuition would be on point, and that’s exactly what happened. Three weeks before turning 26, it suddenly hit me: write. That was the tattoo I wanted. That was the tattoo I needed. Simple, concise, demanding. …

365 Days Later

One year ago this week, I launched my blog. One year ago this week, I convinced myself to set aside my fears, because the world wasn’t going to wait for me to get over them, and I’m happy I didn’t wait, either. One year ago this week, my hands shook as I clicked “publish” for the first time… And they still do to this day, because that’s just not something I think I’ll ever get over. It’s truly an understatement to say that I’ve been incredibly blessed throughout my life, and that includes the feedback I’ve received regarding my writing. I am constantly humbled by the kind words and the encouragement offered, even if I can’t fully stop being my own worst critic. As a writer, I can be ruthless with myself. I read and edit everything a billion times before setting it free into the world, always worried I might be misinterpreted. The latter is included in the list of fears I’ve carried with me for most of my life. I’m still working on …

Tonight, I Cried

“Don’t be bothered by the noise. Go sit and be silent,” I read this evening, and it made me pause for a moment. Be silent, the phrase urged. Don’t mind the noise, it said. I lost count of how many times I repeated it over and over in my mind, until I finally admitted to myself that I couldn’t do it. No, that’s wrong. It’s not that I can’t. It’s that I don’t want to. I choose not to, in the same way that I’ve chosen not to do it so many times in the past. But why? There’s no way around this one; it’s plain and simple: I. Am. Scared. Of. My. Thoughts. I’m scared of my thoughts. Me dan miedo mis pensamientos. Two languages, one concept. I don’t want to go sit and be silent. I don’t want to unearth all I’ve been hiding. I don’t want to face the part of me that has been tamed. I don’t want to deal with all of the pent up emotions cowering behind my smile. …

New Beginnings

A friend and I recently moved in together in a new city. We know each other very well; our shared history is loaded with plenty of smiles and tears to go around. We have a strong personal connection and bond, and we know quite a bit about each other’s past lives, but the catch is: no one else here does. No one here knows a single thing about either of us. And that’s an incredibly beautiful thing. Let’s face it: moving is stressful. It either makes me gain several pounds or forces me to shed them. More often than not, it absolutely murders my bank account to a third degree, because no amount of budgeting and pre-planning prepares you for unexpected, cross-country, and very permanent trips. Quite frankly, the whole idea of re-starting my life once again, especially after two years of a nomadic lifestyle, terrifies me. However, it’s also thrilling, and whenenver I feel both of these extremes at once, I know that the decision I’m making will be worth it in the end. …

One Day, You

For a writer, there’s nothing worse than choking on the very words you’ve been desperately trying to cough out, and then, at the final moment, realizing you’ve drained them of their necessary air. For a writer, there’s nothing worse than knowing you have a deep ocean inside of you, from which words struggle to swim up, and up, and up, against strong currents imposed by you and no one else, only to watch them drown before reaching the surface. For a writer, you’re quite the trained killer. Who feels it but me? Who hears it but me? Who perceives it but me? Who bears it but me? I’ve been trying to spit something out for weeks. I’ve tried both languages. I’ve listened to music to inspire my thoughts and feelings (oh, these feelings!). I’ve tried to revive memories that still sting and sizzle as they make contact with my reality… And yet… And yet. Could it be? With so much to say? Really? Is this how it has to be? Just imagine: it’s all because …

Age Is Just A Number

Twenty-seven. I have no idea what to do with this number, I’m just glad I made it this far! It sounds silly, but even though life expectancies continue to rise in some parts of the world, there are many others where it’s uncommon to develop fully and lead a happy, healthy life. At this point, I’m very grateful for each birthday I get. But enough with the drama for now. In my humble opinion, December 29 is an awesome birth date because it coincides with the end-of-year renewal that I love. My new age always comes hand in hand with the opportunity to reflect on what the last 12 months have brought and what the next dozen might hold. It’s also a time of unwinding and much needed family bonding. However, the inevitable life questions also arise, along with the ever so daunting resolutions list. 2013 was the first time that I was actually able to hold myself accountable for at least half of my goals, which is quite the accomplishment for me. I’m hoping …

I Dare You To Call Me Skinny One More Time

I blame us –all of us- for the media’s sickening manipulation of women’s photographs. We find comfort in blaming society for most of our problems, yet we have an uncanny ability to forget that we are society. Each and every one of us plays a role, which means it’s up to us to change it. Individually, it’s a hard battle; I get it. However, true change does begin when you and I, as individuals, decide to make a change for ourselves, no matter how small. Being called “fat” has never been a problem for me; quite the opposite: I’m called “skinny” way too many times for my liking. Seriously, call me skinny one more time and see how I react; I will not be held responsible, since I’m warning you ahead of time. Some would consider this a “happy problem” to have, especially with the growing obesity rate in this country. However, I must insist on putting my foot down with this topic, because it’s too important not to. Ready? I don’t care if you’re …

November, You’ve Been At It Again

November, my dear, you never fail me. Each year, you arrive jam-packed with comfort-zone-busting, rip-you-apart-at-the-seams-because-why-not type of change. Before, your arrival meant simply that I could use a new haircut, and that would suffice to make me feel almost born again. Nowadays, you seem to get a thrill out of turning my life upside down. I kind of hate you, but I love you. You keep me on my toes. You make me feel pain, you make me suffer, yet through it all, you remind me that I’m alive. And, as long as the latter is true, I will have to keep adapting to these 180 degree-angle turns. We all will. It’s in the ebs and flows that most of our life happens, anyway. Joseph Campbell famously said that “you must give up the life you’ve planned, in order to have the life that is waiting for you,” and I can’t help but pay attention each time I read that line. So, what’s stopping me from surrendering to the mighty whims of this earthly roller …

A Sincere Apology

As you take the time to decide what you would like to write about in your future contribution to my blog, I sit down to draft this very public, yet heartfelt, apology. It’s been a long time coming. You see, everything you’ve been through this year, but especially the bad, can be smoothly traced back to one very specific moment, during which I took the leading role. And although you and I both believe that everything happens for a reason, and that no adversity is ever wasted if we learn and grow from it, I still can’t seem to shake the guilt, try as I might. I’ve talked about it, I’ve cried about it, I’ve prayed about it, I’ve sought advice on it, but at the end of the day, this one tiny little truth remains: I was the one that handed you that drink. … I actually had to pause to re-read that last line. The image replays over and over in my mind and I curse myself for it each and every time. …