On this caterpillar winter-turning-spring of a Monday, I can confirm at the typing of my ten fingers… well 6 actually… (I just monitored myself and I use 6, not 10 – anyone who uses their pinkies or their thumbs I’d like to know who you are)… that I AM ALIVE! I came back ALIVE after 3 weeks in Malta, facing many, many challenges… social anxiety and my eating disorder included… but guys, I MADE it! (if you read my last post you’ll realise I needed to conquer those 3 weeks on an incredible/incredibLY terrifying opportunity so that I could prove to myself I could knock down a few of these mental walls I have built within myself, in order to live more fully. And so that life could feel like it CAN open up if I want it to…
…and it has. Honestly… ? That doesn’t mean I didn’t binge or purge, have utter shit body image or isolate myself sometimes when I struggled, in fact towards the end of the trip my Bulimia was starting to become full-blown and I almost sensed facing a mental ‘crisis’ situation when I got home because of how I was feeling. But that was just a snippet of the whole trip. I’d rather struggle with my eating disorder whilst taking part in a new, exciting adventure, than to experience it at home, doing the same old and learning less about myself. As I said on my recent Facebook/Instagram post… it would be great if I could pack my bags, get on a plane and leave my mental illness at home. And I partly expected that to happen – until I realised it wasn’t going to be that easy. But as bloody difficult as it was during those moments, I have plenty of positive memories that trump any of that. Moments that I can use in evidence of my self-doubts in so many areas of ‘me’, such as social situations, the ability to be assertive, and my rigidity around food. I return to little old Grimsby feeling more awake to my own life, and what I CAN achieve if I believe myself, if… (and I bloody well WILL do now) I am willing to tip-toe out of my comfort when I spot the chance to.
Each day this week, I am going to post about what I learnt and have brought home with me. The skills with my eating disorder, social anxiety and everything else that I am really going to try with my best efforts to integrate into life at home. I will make sure to post the challenges too, towards the end of the week as there’s plenty of them!
Living/working abroad has been a long-lasting goal of mine for the future, so getting a taste of this life through 3 weeks of studying in a foreign college and living within a different culture, has really proved to me what’s out there. It’s easy to forget or never know how big the world is until you see it and be a part of it. When the Russian lady who worked at the Virtual Reality arcade we visited in Malta, showed me a map of how GINORMOUS Russia is in comparison to England (it’s like one chicken nugget out of a box of 20 plus an extra pack of 6, basically – being Russia), and then Malta, being like a speck of tomato ketchup on the table – you couldn’t even see the island, it was just a dot in comparison! (and going to Malta felt like another world in itself, so it baffles me to imagine what else is out there…) And that is why I never want to confine myself to living the rest of my life where I was born.
I’ve learnt that I thrive from being around arty things, beautiful scenery, warm air, life that lives past 5 o’clock, the sun that takes the cloud out of my mood. It wasn’t all sunshine and sunbathing, there were some showers and what-not (and it was their coldest Winter in ages), but the overall package of the beautiful country of Malta made me fantasise about the fact it doesn’t just need to feel like a holiday. I can adapt my surroundings to how I best feel I can live a fuller life, (because we can all go out there and achieve anything we want if we’re serious about making it happen) so there’s no reason why I can’t work hard in order to make another country my home in the future.
What I probably learnt most of all about this trip in a nutshell – is that you should never define yourself as a ‘this’ person or a ‘that’ person. I’ve dangered myself in assuming and labelling myself as an introvert for example… but I’ve had moments, miniscule ones in comparison to the bigger characters on the trip mind, in which I’ve felt like an extrovert. I’ve felt like I’ve jumped over that farm gate inside of me that says ‘shy’, ‘not a people person’ and discovered a whole new field. Or someone who ‘just can’t do spontaneous’ as another example… but I’ve learnt I can be, I find it exciting and I want to be able to trust the messy, fluidity bits of life rather than relying on mundane repetitive routine.
My lesson to you today, if you take anything away from this, would be not to assume you’re a ‘this’ person or a ‘that’ person, until you’ve tested yourself in every other situation that could potentially prove otherwise. And that’s impossible, which is my point. You may prefer certain things, or ways of being – but you’re never fully one or another. We’re all shades of grey, not black or white.
To understand what I mean by my title of this post, watch the following video. I watched it today over my lunch, and it completely hit the nail on the head about what this Erasmus exchange experience, these 3 weeks in Malta, has done for me. It’s tapped into some potential, not to suddenly make me feel confident in all the areas I didn’t before, but in the way that it’s given me a flavour of my capabilities. I have them in my memory bank now, to refer to and prove to myself I can really do it.
I hope you’ll find this video as interesting as I did over my tuna and sweetcorn cous-cous salad this afternoon!
(image of ketchup cups found at: www.dvo.com/newsletter/weekly/2016/5-13-332/notes1.html)