I’m feeling incredibly in control all of a sudden. I was causing anxiety and tears across the ocean with my downward oscillating emotions. I was spending great lengths of time thinking, too much of a good thing is always bad. But, most importantly, I wasn’t taking time to appreciate, to really appreciate, the greatness of each day. I am Stefan, I am alive, I am in Italy, I am here, I am lucky. Something kicked in hanging up the phone with my concerned mother, an instinct to not cause helpless worry, an instinct to take control and steer, to do like the salmon I ate for dinner and for lunch: to swim upstream.
It has been a tough bit of time here in Italy especially because I have so much time to think. My classes, once they settled down after three weeks, leave it up to me completely to do any work at all, to structure my time, to tackle the knowledge. With so much time to sit and think, inevitably I dip into more emotional slumps than I am used to. And that my mother is used to. We talk frequently and mother knows best when her child is struggling.
Neither she nor I thought this time abroad would be such an emotionally and personally straining experience; mostly we heard it would be fantastic. In the end though, it will be completely worthwhile. The knowledge I already have about real life has encouraged growth: being shy in conversations is stupid (not knowing a whole lot of Italian, one has a tendency to be more blunt), cooking and washing dishes doesn’t take that much time (and cleaning the foodstuffs in the drain isn’t gross at all), money doesn’t make the world go ‘round but it sure flies fast (especially at the beginning of the month when rent is due), and struggling will make you a stronger person.
In the end, I will say the experience was worth it, but I will always, always speak the truth of the tough times I had, changing every aspect of my life, synchronizing the day to day to another beat. Now it’s up to me to seek out a routine that will make life here a little less weighty: a job, volunteering, another yoga class, some other activity. I know I am not alone, there are plenty of people writing me emails, letters, words of encouragement. But in the end, I am alone here, only I can steer this ship so that it doesn’t get lost in the middle of nowhere. And if I have to steer it upstream, at least I know how to swim. I won’t let that stop me.