Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Scotland Yards of Ireland Issues

I was trying to find writing inspiration last night, and so I journeyed to my picture folder and found myself looking at photos from my first study abroad to Scotland the summer after my freshman year. I went with a group of students from Seattle for a theater festival in Edinburgh and I saw something crazy like 40ish plays in 20something days. It was one of the single most amazing experiences of my life.

But as I started going through the pictures, you know the very first complete memories that popped into mind?

During our first few days there, two things happened.

1) The very first night, we had gotten pizza and were chatting around the kitchen table. One of the girls interrupted me when I was telling a story and said something, I don't even remember WHAT it's been so many years, but along the lines of "Oh my god Taylor, you're loud!" or "be quieter!" or "you're screaming!" or some variation. I mean, we were drinking! So I shut my mouth like a fucking child and didn't talk for twenty minutes.

2) I was a nineteen year old know-nothing about alcohol, and I ordered the only beer on the menu I recognized at the first bar we went to---a Budweiser. Someone made the mistake of telling me that the bartender made fun of me for this, and I obsessed about that all night. And I'm sure everyone was like dude, shut up about the bartender.

I know right? I know. Sadness. I did better, for the most part, the rest of the trip, at least to my recollection, with containing my crazy.

It's a reoccurring theme in my life. Obsessing over what people think of me, to the detriment of my enjoyment of fabulous, once in a lifetime events.

Or not taking full advantage of these chances because of anxiety about being accepted by the group, or not having fun, or not having the energy because of my weight, or not being capable enough in some way or cool enough or mature enough or something. And then regretting not participating when it comes down to it.

That's what happened all too often on my second study abroad trip, three months in Belfast, Northern Ireland when I was twenty.

Look at me, hiding my chins
behind my cider.

If I were to pick out two memories from our first few nights there, they would be these:

1) When I rejected the invitation to hang out with the girls on my floor, and I never got invited again.

2) When I rejected the invitation to go hiking the first weekend with the group because I was too afraid I'd be fat and slow and make everyone wait for me, and I still look at everyone's pictures and wish I had seen that view.

There are other times on that trip that I pulled the same types of behaviors, nights I didn't go out to the pubs because I felt too fat or boring, days I couldn't muster the energy to participate in conversations because I felt like I didn't belong.

It makes me sad to think back on the amazing opportunities I had over the course of my life, and think that I didn't truly enjoy them the way that I should have, because I was too wrapped up inside my own head, a dark place at the time. Study abroad, college in general, even high school.

But what can you really do? I could fixate on the moments I missed out on, the things I didn't do and the memories I wish I had, or I could try to move past that and focus on all the awesome ones I do have. Of which there are A LOT. Both trips were two of the best times of my life, and I cannot even begin to catalogue the incredible nights I had. So why sit here and remember the most painful moments when I can remember the happy ones?

The past is the past and it makes you who you are. Every picture I have is a part of my story, and when I tell the whole thing some day it will be more interesting because of the good and the bad, the beautiful and the painful. I keep reminding myself not to regret, and of course it applies here.

I don't have to be a masochist. When I look at all my old photos, I don't have to let the bad memories resurface first.

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