Now I’m going to say John Locke wasn’t so wrong. And I’m going to do it be getting up close and personal to my 19 year old self from 2 years ago. I’m going to get frisky with the crippling fears and worries I have had just to come out a better person, a changed person, someone who I am proud to be.
That’s what I would say if this were a good-heart-diary-blog. But it’s not.
I have said before that Nepal has changed me. But why is that? Why didn’t Moldova change me? Or did it? Why am I so incredibly critical of everything and so hard to impress?
I have had an extremely privileged life; and I don’t mean because I am an upper-middle class white girl that grew up in Europe. I don’t say it because for the last ten years or so my father has been in upper managerial positions at work, and I don’t say it because I grew up with an intact family that loved each other.
It’s simple, I grew up without worries.
Yes, times have been rough, harsh. I was born in the time of the second gulf war…in Turkey. I lived through the huge floods in Romania, while living in Bucharest, and I was a student without a job during the greatest economic breakdown since the great depression. But none of these really affected me. I was surrounded by my parents and my brother who always made sure I had nothing to worry about.
I grew up in a bubble that nurtured my hope, let me have fears, that helped me deal with my problems in a healthy manner and that taught me determination, hard work, hope and love can overcome anything. And to this day, I think this is true.
So why the huge worries? Why the crippling fear of the future or in the words of Augustus Waters, oblivion?
Almost exactly two years ago my family was torn apart. I was left with seemingly nothing.
I felt it was my fault; that I had brought this on myself and that I should no longer have a place on this earth. I hated what I was doing at University. I wasn’t learning what I felt would help me in the future. I wasn’t happy with the people I was surrounded by and my monetary pillar had also crashed. I was stuck in an apartment by myself wondering at night wondering how long it would take for someone to notice I was gone, who and how they would find me.
The only thing that kept me going was the thought of what my mother had gone through and how the disappearance of me would probably end her completely.
So I started drawing and painting, reading into art-therapy and self reflection. Really began thinking about myself, my situation, my family. Hope. Love. Determination.
I got really into Tumblr and have learnt SO much, met people that are in a similar situation to me. I have learnt it’s not all over.
My dissertation was coming up, so I seized the opportunity to learn about myself. I achieved this by keeping it as objective as possible. Reading on Third Culture Kids, Identity development, bilingualism and the lack of a home made me question myself in ways I hadn’t done before.
Finally, I decided to put a lot of my efforts into planning my trip to Nepal. I made that distant dream become tangible. Instead of asking Why? I began asking Why not? Suddenly, I had something to look forward to. A hope to achieve something. To make something of myself. To change someone’s life.
Who was I kidding?
At this point, I’d like to refer to this wonderfully insightful blog post by Pippa Biddle that describes all the thoughts I had before going on my trip perfectly. Nonetheless, I decided to grant myself my wish and go. And boy am I happy I did. FACE Nepal, Patihani and the kids did more for me than I could ever do for them. Yes, I might have given them some fun in the fun lives they already leave. I might have taught them the word “butt” (which seems to be a univerasl trigger word of laughter). At this point, I would also like to thank Shreeram for helping me through the crisis I had over there. When I asked him what the point of my being there was actually; that I was just being selfish that there was nothing I could do for the country; to uplift the community, he simply responded with a smile and a speech about the importance of the individual. About how it’s not the country you need to save. It’s the individual children. The Pardeep and the Shrishti. Nepal doesn’t need saving. The children need hope, communication, world-views. And that is what I was there for. To brighten the eyes, to create joy and to maybe teach them a little English.
So what does this all have to do with Locke’s saying?
All the worries I had about my mother, my brother, my future, the world, my inability to help, my fragility made me question my importance. My raison d’etre if you want. It drove me mad to the point of being unable to think about anything else. It stopped me from questioning my worries. It just showed me them. It drove me close to insanity. It MASTERED me.
But not anymore. No, no, no. I would like to say that one day I just woke up and decided to say NO, but then I’d be lying to you. It was a journey a physical as well as metaphorical one.
And now, I am a similar situation as I was two years ago: finishing a degree without a clear future. But the difference now is that I am relatively happy with where I am, what I am doing and who I am with. I surround myself with people conducive to my physical, emotional and academic well-being. I still don’t really have a plan. But I know I want to do good. I know I can’t do everything. I know I can’t change the world by myself. But I can change MY world. And I am now ready to to accept that. To understand that MY world is as important as the rest of the worlds.
I have fears and worries. But I no longer let them master me. So while I still say that Locke isn’t wrong. I think that worry is also necessary. Without worries of something being wrong, how would we improve? Without worrying about someone else, without empathy, why would we reach out to help?