As you're all aware, I've been gone for a while. 86 days so far I think. I haven't spent all of that time alone, but even where there were people around, like during Contiki, I often preferred my own company. I'm fairly introverted, so that's not much of a surprise.
Before I left on this trip, I talked to many people who had taken similar journeys, or who had been to some of the places I was planning to go. The phrase "life-changing" came up more than once. I thought that that meant I would never forget this trip, which is true. However, I think that as well as being life-changing, the last three months have been Jenna-changing. There are a few things I've noticed recently, subtle things, that snuck up on me. For example, yesterday I went to one of those pedicure places where little fish nibble on your feet (I'll explain about that more in my post on Athens). I was there alone, unsurprisingly, but there were three other girls there about my age having the same thing done. Not only did we all have a lengthy conversation (they are from the USA, studying in Rome) but I was the one that initiated it. By myself. With total strangers. I don't think that has happened without me feeling extremely uncomfortable and anxious since I was little enough not to care.
Since this fish experience was spontaneous, I had been wearing close-toed shoes, so I had to sit around for a while waiting for my toenails to dry. I amused myself by looking through all the pictures on my phone. Now, as much as I feel awkward admitting it, a lot of the pictures that I am featured in, I don't particularly like. 99% of the time, I think I look weird or fat or awkward. The only reason I've kept so many of the pictures of myself from this trip is because of where they were taken. But as I was looking through them, I had trouble figuring out why I didn't like them. Obviously there were a few that my opinion of hadn't changed, but there were many more photos that I distinctly remember hating, that I now have no problem with. Sure, they're not the best pictures of me that exist, but there's nothing really wrong with them. This is an interesting development of mine. (Self-confidence?!)
One other thing that I noticed, which may sound a bit ridiculous, is that my taste in clothing has changed slightly. Pre-January, probably even pre-March, my clothing was mostly solid colours, nothing too bright, nothing that would attract attention. A few days ago, I bought a shirt with zebras all over it. Why is this relevant? Clothing with smaller, more intricate patterns tends to bring people closer in order to figure out what it is. At least it does with me. So this shirt, which I am currently wearing, has many small zebras running all over it, which is a lot more "attention-grabbing" (even though it's really not, I know) than most things I own. I've always liked zebras so it's not a shock that I liked the shirt. But I probably wouldn't have bought it before. So I must be more okay with people looking at me and noticing me, which I think is really cool.
This is a super random post, I know. And it's not really on topic of what you guys are used to reading, but I figure I may as well say some of this stuff while I have an audience. I'm pretty proud of myself. I've been away from my family and friends for longer than I have been before in my entire life. I've made friends. I danced at a club in Florence and got drunk in Rome (it was bound to happen at some point, don't look at me like that!). I've managed my money and booked my transportation and accommodation. I've navigated public transportation in a dozen cities and a handful of languages. I've been brave and smart and I've kept myself safe. And the cool thing is, I totally forgot about my anti-depressants, and I haven't taken any in a month with no change. And the anti-anxiety ones, which I was sure I would use regularly and ultimately run out of, I've barely touched. I think I've taken five in the last 86 days.
I am excited to come home and see how this new person fits in to my old life. I am excited to go back to work and school and sports, and do things just because they make me happy. Turns out, I really like being happy. And I'm pretty sure that happy, brave, confident Jenna will do just fine. I'm excited for you all to meet her.
I'll be posting an Athens update soon. I just wanted to let you know what I've been thinking about.