Wednesday, October 01, 2008

11:55 pm

Ok, here goes a bit of a rant, so sorry if you wanted an update on England life. Although this is an update on England life in a way.

I am not the typical college student. I don't drink, I don't really care to go out all that much, don't like staying out super late, can be kind of awkward in social situations (especially in another country), you get the idea... yeah. And that's the case in both America and in Britain. It's just who I am. Even though it sometimes isolates me a little from my surroundings, I am comfortable with it.

One of the emails we got this summer before we came said something like "are you studying abroad so that you can do the same things you do at home?? No!! Have new experiences! Try something new and different! Live like these students live!" etc. I see where they're coming from of course, and hope that I will have a lot of new and fun experiences while I'm abroad. But then in another way... I dunno, I guess I'm just trying to say that I don't really want to force those parts of me to change. Not that I will let some of them-- I'm fine with not doing stuff that I don't want to do even if I'm the odd one out; sure, it might make me feel a little weird but I'm not going to do it just because of that.

I guess the fact that I don't want to go out to a pub every night or go clubbing, and might rather sit here and write or read makes me feel like I'm not going along with the "instructions" of doing something different for a change, being different, living differently. In one way I think I should force myself to do these things, interact with people all the time, because I'm here and I should be doing a better of job of taking it all in. But when I think that way, I don't really feel like it's actually me saying that-- it's outside forces, other people, people who might like to do that kind of thing (and I'm definitely in the minority here) and therefore think I should too.

The other side-- me, really-- says that I should do what I'm comfortable doing and still enjoy my time here. I have gone out some nights, so I know what it's like, and it's not my favorite thing to do (it's just so tiring for one, and not the best place for meaningful conversations...), but I don't want to completely cut myself off from what everyone else is doing and enjoying. I know that by not staying up late, not getting drunk, not going out, I miss out on inside jokes, stories, getting-to-know-you stuff... it happened in high school, it's happened in college, and it's certainly the case here.

But it's just not the way I want to do things, not the way I want to experience this. And it's not because I feel superior to anyone who chooses to do it that way-- in fact, sometimes I envy them for being so comfortable, so used to it, just do it and have fun and there you go-- it's just my gut feeling about myself. It's my choice. I'm all for pushing my comfort zone (well, not "all for"-- it's harder, more complicated than that, no matter what the situation), but not in a way that pushes me away from myself.

I guess some people might say "but if you push away from yourself-- how do you know what other self you might discover? You're just resting easily in this goody-two-shoes role that you've had for years and years! You're twenty-one, for god's sake, woman! Act like it! Maybe you'll like it!"

Sure, maybe I'm a bit of a stick in the mud. But I feel good about who I am, what I like and don't like, what my instincts are, the person god leads me to be. If that happens to shift one day, for some reason or another, then I would like to think that I will go with the flow and see what happens. And I don't think I will know the course until it starts to take shape.

I hope these three months will change me (although I hate when anyone tells me it's going to be "life changing!" What a friggin cliche. What does that even mean? And how am I supposed to know until it's done?). Hell, the last three years have changed me in wonderful ways, some subtle, some less so-- made me more aware, more joyful, more outspoken, more easygoing, more independent, more steeped in loss, faith, and gratefulness, all a part of a larger-- thing (plan? calling? future? destiny?) that keeps creating me. But I think that by the end, when I am getting on the plane to go back to homechristmas!basketball!home, I will still have the essence of my old soul. And I'm okay with that.

I just need to talk it out every once in awhile.


I am all about love. My parents, family, friends, and god have taught me this. I want to make others happy. I am peaceful and I admire respect and acceptance. I want to be dependable and a person people can count on when they need someone. I want to be kind and I want to have no fear to love, whether it be good friends or a new kid. I want to write and share with the world and I want to write to remember my experiences. I want to love unconditionally and not pre-judge and I want always to be hopeful and optimistic and God-trusting. I want to go to sleep at night with comfort and contentedness and I want a little home in a village that I can curl up in and I want a fire and tea and music and arms around me and laughter.
(September 27, 2004)

2 comments:

Jose Gibert said...

Congratulations for having the courage to be yourself!

Caroline said...

Claire,

Thank you, thank you, thank you again for your post. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts as they mirror mine to a frightening extent. It's Saturday night. What are the others in my group doing? Probably hanging out in Place Plume, the cool part of town. Is that wrong? Of course not.

What did I do tonight? Drank tea -- knitted a scarf -- watched some Buffy -- ate dinner with my host family -- talked to my host parents about teenage behavior -- flipped through Paris Match -- took a bath -- and it'll be bed fairly soon. Does that make me a bad study abroad student? I'd like to think...no.

I'd heard those things too before leaving, about stepping out of your comfort zone and exploring new things. And I think I have to some extent -- I mean, it's only been a month and week in France -- but I still want to do the quieter, at-home things, rather than the overwhelming masses of people gatherings. Maybe I'm 80 years old already, but there you have it.

So yes, cherie, you are brilliant and fine with what you chose to do, and I can completely relate.