a different girl

How do I cope with who I am when the person in my head isn’t really me?

Do you ever imagine future scenarios and then watch them play out in your head like a movie? The answer is probably yes, I’m fairly certain almost everyone does this. I’ve been doing this a lot, especially lately when I think about going to Germany. I picture myself walking through foreign cities, having afternoon coffee in cute outdoor cafes, meeting new people and making friends. I imagine my outfits and how I’ll do my hair and makeup. The only problem is when I put all these things together and begin to watch all the scenes unfold in my head, I’ve found the person staring back at me isn’t really me.

Since the time I was little, I’ve always known I was fat and I have a lot of self-esteem issues because of it. I let how I look hold me back from a lot of things and to counteract the discomfort I feel in my own skin I’ve created a new person in my head. They are the me I’ve tricked myself into believing that I am. The girl in my head is not me because the girl in my head is beautiful. Her beauty makes her confident and brave. Her beauty allows her to travel the world, doing all the things the real me has always dreamed about.

But what happens when me and this person in my head collide? In a few months, the girl exploring Europe and living her dreams will be me- not the girl I’ve built in my head. I will have to be confident and brave, but unlike the girl in my head, I don’t have my beauty to shield me from my fears. How do I become this person when I still look like me?

sidewalks

I’m not sure what the word for this is, nostalgia maybe? That feeling when you hear or taste or see or smell something and it takes you back to a different time and place. Not just mentally, like a memory, but you feel it in your body, like an ache in your bones and a knot in your stomach. You feel your soul being ripped from your chest, as it travels back to that one moment that suddenly feels worlds and lifetimes away. Then, just like that, the feeling is gone and you’re left mourning the piece of yourself you didn’t know you had left behind.

Yesterday I was looking up information for my study abroad next year and a picture of a building came up. It was just an ordinary picture, an ordinary street, in a part of the city I’d never been to before but something about it caught my eye. The sidewalks. I’ve never thought twice about sidewalks before. I’m not really sure anyone has. They’re such mundane details, yet throughout our lives, we’ve walked hundreds of thousands of miles on them without giving them a second thought. When I saw that sidewalk I was suddenly there and all the memories of that trip came flooding back to me. Flooding is a tame word, it was more like a hurricane or a tsunami wave. I was struck down with all the feelings, sights, tastes, and smells and then just as quickly as it came, it was gone.

Now I’m stuck here, forced to return back to my reality while I grieve the loss of the person I was at that moment and place. It’s so hard to turn back when you know the place you came from will never feel like home again. Although for some people “I left my heart in San Francisco” will never be more than an old jazz song or a cliche postcard, for me it’s a sobering reminder that I can never be the person I was before because a part of me is still walking those sidewalks on the other side of the world.

 

an introduction

When I was 17 I fell in love.

No, not romantic love, not the kind with a boy and an awkward kiss. I fell in love with a place, a home, a life I didn’t have. I fell hard and fast and I’ve spent every minute of the last few years trying to find my way back.

Now, nearly three years later its crazy to think how much a single day, just one sunny perfect afternoon, can alter someone’s life so much. I remember staring out the bus window as we drove into the city and the only thing running through my head was

when can I come back

and I think that’s a good place to start. I’m Meghan and this blog is going to be all about my life in Germany- the kodak moments, the anxiety and homesickness, and all the bits in between. I visited Europe for the first time the summer before my senior year of high school on a class trip. London was fantastic and Paris just as romantic and beautiful as the movies. I had absolutely no expectations for Germany, it was the last two days of the trip and a complete afterthought, overshadowed by the view of the Eiffel Tower. After one sunny afternoon in Cologne, I came home and replaced my Spanish classes for German and vowed to come back and study abroad my Junior year of college.

Now, at nearly 20 years old, that’s exactly what I am about to do. Although it seemed so simple and obvious back then – go abroad to study German, get a job there after college, and never come back- I’m learning that life is complicated, things happen, and sometimes you just have to put on your big girl pants and jump. It’s definitely not going to be as easy or glamorous as 17 year old me anticipated but I’m going to do it anyway.

So, here’s to that sunny June day and all the adventures its taken me on so far, and especially to the ones still ahead.