If someone were to look at my life through a window, I wonder what they would see. If they’ve been following me on Instagram, they’d probably see a surfer chick, a big smile on her tanned face, eyes twinkling, holding a surfboard taller than her. In the background, white sand and the playful blue sea of Costa da Caparica.
Or maybe, they looked through the window a few months ago, and saw me sitting at the kitchen counter, holding a cup of steaming chai, dressed and ready to head out for the day. Next to me, a tall, bearded man, my ex-boyfriend, busy typing away on his phone as his chai grows cold.
Did they see me in January, perhaps, on a cold winter morning in Munich, making a snow angel and getting snow in my jacket and my shoes?
I wonder if they looked in on a winter night and saw warmth inside, or if they peeped through the curtains on a summer afternoon, only to find me in something akin to hibernation? Nevertheless, no matter the circumstances, they get only a partial view into my life. A view, that is always altered in some way by their perception of me. And if there is anything that these past few months have taught me, it is that you are what you are, regardless of how another person chooses to see you.
You are the lone traveller, eager to meet new people; staying with a fellow Couchsurfer in a small village in Italy; walking the High Path from one village of the Cinque Terre to another on a foggy April morning and getting drenched in the rain; spending two consecutive evenings in Vernazza getting to know a lovely couple from Germany. You are independent and headstrong, but not aloof or hurtful and certainly not heartless or scheming.
Yes, you cry while watching any movie or series that tugs on your heartstrings, and you sniffle and moan when you are ill, but you are not weak; you can take care of yourself very well, just as you did when you were new to this city and still finding your footing in this foreign land, alone.
You are a romantic at heart, and you look at the world through rose-tinted glasses. Maybe it is just a matter of time (and/or age) till those glasses lose their pink hue and become discoloured, but till then, you’ll enjoy the view. You’ll believe in the good in the people, never believing that everyone is out to beguile and cheat you. You fiercely believe that people are allowed a second chance. Sometimes, a few people deserve a third, a fourth or even a fifth chance. But whom you believe in enough to give these chances to, only you can decide. And if they throw away every chance you’ve given them, you distance yourself from them, feigning indifference until you need feign no more.
You are a bookworm, who escapes to alternate universes hidden between the pages of each book you read. You flit through different genres, because all of them interest you. You have a plethora of words and languages at your disposal, to use when you see fit. You read a book because it piques your interest, and not because it features on “100 Books Every ‘Pseud’ Bookworm Should Read”. As for the pronunciations you get wrong and the stutter that surfaces, it’ll be remedied with time and practice, but more importantly, when you realize that you don’t need to prove your ‘avid reader’ status to anyone.
You are a giver. You give and give, until you can give no more. Or until the receiver can no longer see that you are giving, and complains that they need even more, and starts calling you heartless and selfish. Don’t convince yourself to somehow give more, then — it won’t be recognized or valued, and you’ll blame yourself for the situation turning bitter. Understand this, and stop.
You are all this, and more. But the one thing you are not, is perfect. You’ve made, and will make, mistakes. You will hurt someone without meaning to, and you will sometimes be nauseating to be with because of your excessively positive worldview and bouts of crying after a particularly heart-wrenching movie. And let that temper you; learn from your mistakes and take criticism in your stride. Accept your fault when you are in the wrong. Don’t let the mistakes and their consequences make you bitter or frightened. Don’t let the world turn a lifeless, colourless grey. Continue travelling, collecting postcards, making friends across culture and language barriers. Devour yet more books. Watch movies and series that touch your heart. Believe in people, and don’t let anyone convince you that the world is a bad place. But most of all, believe in yourself. For only you know who you were, who you are, and who you can become.
You are the entire picture, the coup d’œil, and mere glimpses of you in someone else’s eyes will never do you justice.