I can't say I went abroad to find myself. I've had a pretty solid grasp on who I am as a person for the last year or so, and I didn't need to travel thousands of miles to figure myself out. I leave that kind of thinking to other people. No, I decided to study abroad because I wanted something inherently different from my life back home. And I decided to get that enormous change in Istanbul, Turkey. I definitely got what I wanted, but something else happened that is becoming increasingly mind blowing the more I stay here. I've gone and lost myself.
Somehow, and to be honest I'm not sure why I didn't see this coming, I've changed. All the hokey travel blogs said it would happen and damn them all because it certainly did. I'm not sure who I am anymore, and I don't know whether or not it's a good thing. It can't all be good because all of a sudden I'm feeling regret. Regret that I took a language class instead of something that actually interested me. Regret that I didn't save enough money to travel everywhere that I wanted to. Regret that I don't have the courage to talk about my feelings (something that has never been a problem before). I was never the person to actively regret my decisions. You make your bed and then you lie in it. That's always been my philosophy. Your decisions and mistakes make you who you are, so why regret anything. I think some of the reason might be because I'm unsure of the person I am right now. There are some parts of me that were already there before I spent four months in a foreign country and are now extremely pronounced. But there are things that are here now that weren't at the beginning of the year. I'm angry now. In fact, I'm feeling more than I ever have. I'm feeling something for a person that I haven't felt in years, not since high school. And that's not really something to be ashamed of, but not being able to admit it to that person is definitely not okay. I was always a feminist but now I'm practically militant. I'm much more likely to speak my mind, interestingly enough. I now know (sort of) what it's like to live under an authoritarian regime and that pisses me off to no end. Not all of this is bad, but it's not something I particularly wanted either.
I think the reason all of this took me by surprise is because I didn't come here to change. We're constantly bombarded by stories and books and movies about people who can't stand where they are in life so they make a huge leap and change everything to go out and explore the world, but that never applied to me. I was happy with who I was, and now that I'm a different person I'm not sure how to react. I know that there are things about me now that I really like. I'm finally writing again. Not blog posts, actual stories and poetry, another thing I haven't done in years. It's like I've made the unconscious decision to de-prioritize school in exchange for prioritizing art. I can't say it will have all good consequences, but I can't make myself care for something when it doesn't matter as much as exploring. Exploring myself and exploring this new place.
And now I'm home. It's going to be a process getting used to this place, but then again I find myself questioning whether I want to be used to it here. Do I want to fit back into the space that I left? I think the answer is no. By going back to who I was I might as well have spent the last four months back in my childhood bedroom with the door closed. Change, even though this time it was (admittedly naively) unexpected, is good for me. The idea of changing into someone I'm not familiar with is infinitely better than going backwards. Fuck that.