This week is my last week in Ireland. That simple statement creates a myriad of emotions, some I am not sure even I can put a name or description to. I dissolve into a walking oxymoron every time I utter the words. Am I happy to be going home? Yes. Am I sad to be going home? Yes. Do I miss my family? Yes. Will I miss the people in Ireland? Yes. Was I happy in Ireland? Yes. Was I happy in America? Yes. This could easily continue each statement creating a contradiction of the last. This experience, cliché as it is, was life changing. How can you not change when thrown into a new culture completely dependent on yourself to adjust and stumble your way through each new experience? Each stumble creates something greater than merely adding to the list of mistakes you have made, rather it is a lesson that alters something within yourself whether you know it or not. Each solution nurtures your confidence and independence. Each city becomes a teacher. Each person becomes a ripple within your life. Each culture opens your eyes and broadens your mind.
I went to Madrid this last weekend to visit a friend and to have a taste of a completely different culture. How many ways can you say amazing. I feel like I could try and find every synonym of the word and still come up short to my experience. Spain was wild, free, full of passion, all topped with a veneer of sophistication. The spirit housed with Spain was untamed, one of fire. As soon as I stepped off the plane it felt like I had descended into an optical illusion. The buildings, even the atmosphere seemed to be one of regality. Not pompous, so much as an air of dignity lingered in the air. Yet, the regal settings can easily deceive you into believing that the sophistication is all there is. Spain is far from shallow, lurking just under the surface: fire courses through the blood of Spain. Spain is not easy to describe, but like many of the places I have connected with a character slowly began to develop in my mind, built by each new discovery. Spain, in my mind, is a rugged man who appears to be simultaneously young and old each depicted within his ageless face that he wears with pride and dignity. His skin bearing testimony to his life, his innate beauty shines out of him and looking into his youthful eyes you see the passion within.
Spain: another place that struck a chord deep within me. I felt as though the culture was a living breathing entity that reached inside me and uncovered something I never knew existed. I felt a kinship with Spain, but on a deeper level the exploration of Spain lead to the discovery of myself. I am no longer the girl who first left for Ireland. I am now slowly growing into a woman one who has a deeper understanding of herself and the world around her. It would be hard to describe the changes or pinpoint them because it is broader than that. The lessons and experiences accumulated throughout my time here to slowly change an intrinsic part deep within myself. I have gained self-assurance, confidence, self-awareness and beyond the surface I have become more introspective. Spain played a large role in the realization of the change within me. It acted as a mirror reflecting my inner self back at me where I was able to clearly see the changes. I was not timid about dancing in the park, or belting out Cher to anyone who would listen, I was not embarrassed to be caught making silly faces, I was not afraid to try and fail when speaking Spanish. I was comfortable in my skin and with who I am. I have slowly learned to embrace my individuality because it is the little “quirks” that make up who I am.
Age does not equal wisdom: wisdom is something that is gained through experiencing life, taking in the experience, and recognizing the change within yourself. The thing about wisdom is that one can never reach their full potential, because to reach it would mean there was nothing left to experience. I embrace the fact that there will always be a perpetual one more thing on my list I want to experience and I rejoice in that knowledge. This journey is not coming to an end. No it is merely beginning.