Like reading through a journal.

 Dear 12 year old self,

it will get better, I promise. You’re just awkward, kiddo, and that’s ok! I promise: one day. you will learn to love yourself. 

__________________________

As I write this, I’m sitting in the bedroom in the apartment I lived in for 4 months.  I just had dinner with my host mom, Onelise, and host dad, Mario. She made rigatoni al ragu and some sort of roasted pork filet.  We finished the meal with panettone and vino santo as we watched the news, witch currently was reporting on the snowstorms all over the American east coast. We talked about Iran, what women have to wear there; we talked about my parents and how they came to America 35ish years ago, we talked about my grandparents and what their favorite Italian food was during our trip. It all would have been very normal for a study abroad semester, except that I studied abroad last fall.

My roommate Becky isn’t sitting here right now on her side of the room doing her Mythology reading for tomorrow, I don’t have any homework to do, and we’re not planning our next weekend trip.  I’ve barely spoken any Italian at all in the past 12 months, and my list of vocabulary words has shrunken ridiculously. But really what makes this so different is me.

The last time I was sitting in this spot on this bed was over a year ago. That’s crazy isn’t it?  Crazy so think how much I’ve changed in one year. Or really I should say a year and a half. When I left for China in June 2012, I began the process of the creation of the person that Is now me. Finally, once I left Italy in December 2012, I began the second step of this process: the analytical/self-reflection part. The part that is still leading me to where I am now.

I am still looking back at specific events, breaking them down and seeing how they contributed to the making of New Shab. And sitting where I am on this bed with pink sheets in the apartment where I now have an Italian pair of grandparents, I’m looking at everything with new eyes.  I can see the “study abroad” culture that has overwhelmed American students into spending a semester in a new country where, honestly, to be real, they don’t care much for the culture. I can see how much I needed to find my “thing” to push me forward, see how photography wasn’t all there was to me, how now that I have found my passion, I feel CRAZY. Crazy enough to feel like I can do anything, crazy enough to be completely confident in my every move, crazy enough to apply to au pair in Ireland (even though really, no fingers are pointing towards it). But also confident enough to have pride in my craziness, and realize that it’s this precise craziness that is me.

A year ago I was trying to figure things out. I didn’t realize how unsure I was, because I was alright in that precise uncertainty. But now I’m certain, and now know who I am and what I want. I’ve realized that this thing called “normal” doesn’t exist.  Normal is a subjective term.  My normal is your weird, and you’re crazy is my normal.

SO SCREW THE STATUS QUO. Who needs it? I’ll do me, you can do you.