That Month I Finally Took One Day At A Time

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It’s hard to believe that I have been living on my own in a completely foreign country.

Of course, I am proud of myself for having the courage to pack my bags and leave everything comfortable behind. But truthfully, I can’t help but already feel sad when looking at my calendar and struggle to accept that I only have 15 more weeks left in this new, exciting world of mine. Because here, life seems brand new. There are so many people to meet, so much energy buzzing around me - I almost feel like I am starting to become addicted to the uncertainty of my life. When I wake up in the morning, I don’t necessarily know what the day is going to bring. Back home, that terrified me. I scrambled to keep that thin, linear line. Here? The open door to endless opportunity is intoxicating.

I wanted to take this post to reflect on my time abroad in the last month. Despite my “day-to-day” living, it is moving at such a fast pace that I want to make sure I find the time to take a step back, and just breathe. I want to try to understand myself as much as I can so that I can continue growing as a human. With that, I found a reflection question that I will be returning back to come mid-semester, and the finals days here in Sydney:

“How has abroad helped determine who I am?”

I think identity is tricky. Especially as a child, we absorb so much information around us, it becomes seemingly impossible to listen to ourselves. I know I have struggled with that as well as finding a voice to communicate those pains for what has felt like my entire life. I won’t bore you with the psychological examination I have given myself as to why I have dealt with these struggles, but the most important thing is that I am aware of it.

When I arrived in Sydney, I already knew that not having a black and white schedule would cause me some internal turmoil. I’ve been fortunate enough in my lifetime to travel a decent amount, but for some reason, always preferred being a home body. I didn’t like not having access to my own bed and I always would worry about the germs settling in around the hotel room. I found numerous reasons to stay home when I could…because it was comfortable to me.

If you haven’t picked up on it yet, I tend to talk about “comfort” and “discomfort” a lot. And these terms (to me at least) correspond when talking about identity. At times, you may not feel the most comfortable with who you are becoming. But that’s just the reality of growth.

When my mom was alive, she knew, at times, I needed to stay away from that warm, cozy corner of “comfort” and she pushed me to be braver. I don’t have that anymore, and vowed to myself for the year of 2019 to find herself within me. I want to find that courage and confidence. Because without it, my life isn’t very much well lived.

My time here abroad has helped me begin to determine who I am by giving me endless doors to walk through. Instead of labeling myself as this OCD, “black and white kinda mentality” gal, I’ve been giving the chance to step away from those roots and live a very messy, unpredictable schedule. For once, school and order isn’t my number one priority. I’ve made efforts to let go of the identities of myself that I grew up with, and have found the courage to finally - for what has felt like the first time - be myself.

This has forced me to reconcile with that scared, timid little girl hiding behind her mom on the first day of preschool. I feel as if now, I am looking fear straight in the eye, raising my eyebrow and whispering “watch me”. I’ve walked with my eyes wide open into dates with men I knew nothing about, I’ve felt brave enough to openly (and causally) discuss my relationship with my body to strangers who seemed keen to listen, and I’ve danced the night away at midnight, fascinated with the truth to how big this world actually is. I can value fashion and beauty while sticking my nose in a book. And I am much more confident than I give myself credit.

With a month in, I am happy to share that I can have as many parts to me as I want. And that’s the beginning of a life well lived. I don’t have to pick one thing, one side and stick with it forever. Life truly is just numerous shades of gray.

Long live Oz.

EGE

Travel, GrowthEmma Ecklin