Last night my house had spiritual directing. It was led by a man from our church (Highland Ave. Church of the Brethren) and is a monthly activity for whoever is living in the BVS house in Elgin at the time. I have to admit that I was ot really looking forward to the time, but it was actually really helpful as we did an activity called Lectio Devino with a picture instead of a Bible verse. As we reflected on a picture we were allowed to explore the different thoughts and images coming to us and reflect how our life is like a work of art.
Something in the picture reminded me of Europe, which in turn reminded me of one of my favorite movies, Chocolat. For anyone who has not seen it, I whole-heartedly recommend watching it. The main character in the movie is this woman who comes to a French village and opens a chocolate shop during Lent. The town and especially the church are aghast. I love the movie because it invites us to not play into the status quo, but challenge others and to truly be yourself. The main character always wears bright red shoes and refuses to do what is expected in the small town. However, she is also extremely loving and brings new life and energy to the town. In many ways, she is who I want to be.
During transitions, I often lose sight of who exactly I am. I have worked really hard to develop who I am during the last four years and am really satisfied with where I am. However, now that I am away from EMU, I find myself second-guessing myself. I think a lot more about how others are perceiving me and forget the things that make me me. I try to do my best to be quiet and fit in. At times like these I long to be the woman in Chocolat who can just come straight into a place and be herself, red shoes and all. What scares me even more is that soon I will be transitioning to Croatia. Not only will I be in another new place, communication will be really hard and it will be impossible to be the self I was at EMU.
So how do I transition? Who do I be? One of my housemates asked me last night if I was okay with being a different version of myself. And I do not know that I am. I want people to know me and see me how I was this last year at EMU: full of confidence, leadership, craziness, and adventure. But, I realize that it won't be completely possible, especially during my first year in Croatia when I am just learning basic sentences in Croatian. I won't be able to express myself as usual, and I will be learning all new skill sets, which means that I won't have a leadership role and I most likely won't be confident.
Usually when I write a blog post, I have something worked out, be it a reflection or an answer to a question I have been wondering. But this time, I don't. I truly don't know what I am going to do or be in Croatia. In many ways it is really exciting; this is why I chose some place so far away. I want to push myself and grow. However, I am also really nervous. I don't know what to expect and I won't have people and things that remind me who I am. So I am asking you, my readers. How have you dealt with transitions and becoming different versions of yourself? What expectations should I have, if any? Any other thoughts on being yourself? I would love to hear some responses, then post (anonymously) some of the responses in my next post. Please email me at email@example.com... it would mean a lot to me!
I have decided to bring with me a couple different reminders. First, I have some of my favorite pictures from the last year to hang on my walls. Second, I am bringing my favorite mug (that was given as a present at the end of the school year) and some Iraqi tea to remind me of all the tea parties I hosted this last year and the people and conversations that have shaped me. Thirdly, I am bringing a pair of bright red TOMS to remind me to not being afraid of being myself and standing out from the crowd. Lastly, I would love to bring with me letters of encouragement and support from people to open when I need to be reminded of who I am. If you would like to send a letter or card with me to Croatia, please send it to my home address (Julia Schmidt, PO Box 387, Pandora, OH 45877) before October 15. This way, when I am feeling down and lonely and nothing like the person I was, I will have something to open and be reminded of the person I really am and look for ways to be her despite all the difficulties I might encounter. Thank you in advance for all the notes! :)