Magnifying the Mirror: How Living in Mexico Enhances Personal Development
Living in Mexico helped me find a new lease on life. With the encouragement of a dear Mexican female friend, I moved to the Mexican Caribbean – also called Cancun – to work as a Web Content Editor in the travel and tourism industry. Having reached a pivotal crossroads in my life and heading down the path toward personal development, I knew it was time to do something different. Mexico changed me irrevocably; the way I saw life, myself, and others would never be the same, and I never want to change back.
On the way to my new Cancun home, I was shocked by the stark contrast between extreme poverty and tremendous wealth, but nearly everyone smiled and exchanged pleasantries with each other. Even complete strangers would engage you in friendly chat. Usually, they wanted to sell you something which was a little disconcerting at first, but I quickly learned that you could repeatedly say “no” with good humor. They would eventually concede with a wave and a smile, inviting you to contact them later if you changed your mind.
Mexicans seem to be primarily motivated by courtesy, relationship, and making money. Although the pursuit of money is apparent at nearly every corner, that’s only because most Mexicans don’t have enough of it, and it’s their only way to keep a roof over their heads and feed their families. Many live in shacks or minimalist apartments with just the essentials; often, without hot water or air conditioning.
I’ve never seen people work so hard or such long hours and have so little to show for it, yet they still find a way to enjoy the company of friends and family with food, drinks, singing, and dancing. Rarely have I encountered Mexicans without a smile on their face and a twinkle in their eye. The resourcefulness and resilience of these downtrodden people are a testament to their strength and character.
Coming from the American (USA) culture of abundance and excess, the Mexican people’s ability to smile in the face of adversity inspired me to learn more about them. I began the process of discovery by meeting the locals and researching Mexican culture online, which was not only fascinating and heartbreaking but also helpful in writing historical and promotional articles for my travel and tourism clients.
Living in Mexico Changed My Life
What I didn’t expect were the lessons I learned about myself. As someone so culturally different in appearance, attitude, thought, and behavior, my self-awareness was magnified. Although my Mexican friends, acquaintances, and the strangers I encountered were never rude or confronting, they became the mirrors in which I saw my own reflection. By seeing myself reflected in their eyes, I realized I was not the person I believed I was, and I needed to change.
Just to give you a taste, I was surprised to learn I was too assertive, direct, and opinionated, whereas other traits were less obvious and more profound. As I interacted with many new people, I could see their surprise when I said or did something in conflict with what they considered the norm, but they continued to interact politely, probably attributing it to the fact that I was a “gringa” (white girl). I often noticed these subtle cues and was left to wonder about them and address them in private.
Living in a foreign country became a magnifying lens into my soul. It brought with it the opportunity to work, love, and live in a whole new way. Working and living in Mexico taught me patience, tolerance, compassion, and the ability to face adversity with a sense of humor and a smile. As I continue down the path of self improvement, I would like to thank the wonderful Mexican people I had the good fortune of knowing – and apologize to some – who helped me and tolerated me along the way.