I am a huge advocate of making sure you give yourself some “me time.” But lately, I feel like I am finally realizing that there is something a lot more important than indulging in some Netflix in an empty apartment, and that is to simply be myself. Being abroad gives you the perfect chance to explore the world and explore yourself, and it does so by giving you a fresh start and letting you meet people from all over. However, when considering how big and diverse the world and its people are, it becomes so easy for us to get lost in it. I love running around and exploring new places, and I love those days when I just wear a big sweatshirt with leggings. Yet in Rome I feel like these, along with other, comfortable and habitual things I do are somehow looked down upon or seen as unconventional.
For instance, every single time I go for a run I get a facetious “thumbs up” from people walking to work or even a few people jokingly running alongside me, smiling. I feel awkward at times because it makes it very obvious that I am not from Rome when a local resident is running beside me in jeans, laughing and catching the eyes of everyone we pass. When thinking about it though, it’s pretty ridiculous and really funny how something as basic and simple to me as running on residential streets can result in such an adverse reaction from people. In reality, I give a “thumbs up” back and generally chuckle when people run beside me, but what if it actually bothered me and forced me to stop running? What if I felt like I was even more of an outsider and I stopped exploring new places and doing the things I love? Moral of the story? Just shrug off the people that run alongside you, making you feel uncomfortable for doing what you love.
Since almost all blog posts about being abroad seem to gravitate back towards being yourself and exploring, in this one I want to shift more towards the “doing you” sometimes. I am a comfortable person. My comfort zone is thirty minutes from home. So, at school and in Rome I latch on to the things and people that make me comfortable. At some point I inevitably get too comfortable and start being more individualistic. Once I start skipping weekly dinners or cancelling plans, I realize how although I kind of like the independence, being with people is so great.
All of this rambling on and pretty standard advice comes down to one really important fact: you need, and the frequency is flexible, to surround yourself with people you enjoy being around. Although snuggling in bed after a long day sounds nice, talking about it over dinner with a few friends is even better. We all have those days when we do not want to see anyone or talk to anyone, but, when we think about it, how much do we enjoy seeing that one person who makes us instantly laugh regardless of our emotional state?
My advice: be you, but be you with people that make you happy.