24 March 2016

*on learning to laugh at myself and eudaimonia*

Once upon a time a seventeen year old girl called her mom from her bedroom... But it wasn't a lazy call inspired by a desire for cookies from the kitchen downstairs. See the girl, she's me. And when I call my mom on FaceTime , it's because I'm 6000 kilometers away from where I used to call home. For the past five months, I've been lucky enough to live a dual life - the sixteen years I spent in my birth family in the United States and the time I've spent in France. When I refer to my home now, my friends have to ask if I'm talking about Virginia or Chartres. I consider myself to have four siblings - two French brothers and two American sisters. When I send text messages, autocorrect will scramble everything until change the keyboard to the right language. The duality has created an overlapping, far more vivid version of myself.
I've spent five months abroad - only two percent of my life so far - but I've begun to recognize the impact it's had on me. I've developed a tradition of telling at least one funny story each time I call home...and often it involves me learning from some mistake I've made. At the beginning of the year, missing a bus was enough to have me choking back tears on the phone with the school director. Now, accidentally temporarily staining the couch blue remains awkward, but afterwards I could barely tell my mom the story because I was laughing so much at how frightened I'd been. I used to think I knew how to laugh at myself , but I was wrong. It's something I've mastered here in France. It's gotten to the point that if I call home and don't tell a story about some bizarre "learning experience" I get asked if everything's okay.
My new environment - and being alone in it -  has also given me the opportunity to learn who I actually am , and what was more a factor of the environment I'd always been in. I've begun appreciating even unfortunate events, because even the very worst offer something to learn from or laugh about. I've even learned a favorite word - eudaimonia- from a book for English class. It's a Greek word that usually gets translates to mean "happiness" but is actually closer to "human flourishing." I loved the definition but it took me a while to realize that it fits with so many other discoveries I've made this year. Happiness sometimes means just success , while flourishing means more learning and progressing , mistakes included. These months have taught me the value of difficulties mixed with success. Uncertainty , challenges makes success far more meaningful. At seventeen, I know I'm probably at a pretty resilient phase of my life but I hope I can always carry this crooked appreciation for overcoming difficulty with me. That alone would make my year ten thousand times worth it.

***This was an SYA Blogger post from February that I forgot to post :) it's here now

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