Germany, Gratitude and Growing Up

Inhale for 4, 3, 2, 1.. and Exhale for 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. 

Okay. 

I think we’re ready to begin.

This has been one hell of a year. Between a pandemic, Brexit, wildfires and US election drama, 2020 has felt very apocalyptic. But despite the external chaos and uncertainty, the garden inside my brain has been growing and inside it, I feel safe.

A couple of months ago I finished my internship at Bosch. My original plan had been to return to Germany for a couple of weeks, to hand my laptop back, say some goodbyes and collect my belongings. But the second I landed in Stuttgart airport, I knew I needed to stay longer.

I ended up staying a month longer than planned, couch surfing amongst friends when I wasn’t travelling locally. During this month I had so much time to reflect on this past year of work and on recent events.

I filled 50 pages in my journal, had countless insightful conversations with friends. I went on long walks in the woods, spent hours learning to cook better, listened to albums all the way through on long train journeys. I drank coffee on my own in the city centre, watching people. I listened to friends with opinions on relationships, religion and life that I had never considered before. I watched glowy sunsets, sunbathed in parks and started playing chess again.

It was a surreal paradise, so far removed from the hellish preceding months. Totally free from responsibility. I spent every day doing things and seeing people who made me happy, and for the first time in my life, I did not feel like I was rushing from one place to another, or that I was failing in some way. 

I felt blessed every day I got to wake up in a country not in lockdown. That I could take trains, visit new cities, see my friends, go to restaurants and pubs. What was once ordinary, felt blissful.

I think that was one of the big game changers in my life- seeing at everyday things for what they really are: miracles and blessings. And then everything else is put into perspective.

I also learnt to shift anxious what-if thoughts to statements like: what if I am enough exactly as I am? What if my weight/fitness/appearance is already okay? And so what if it’s not? Whose judgement am I fearing, apart from my own? Aside from companies trying to sell me solutions to insecurities they created, who is benefiting from my self-scrutiny?

And if someone were to judge me, why should I care?

These are definitely things I have always thought about, but only now do I feel in my core that I really am OK as I am right now. I am doing my best every day and I can’t do or be any more than that.

It feels different. I feel less afraid to be myself, without fear or judgement.

One effect of this is that I have stopped drinking so much. Another is that I have become more patient, because I accept where I am right now, and that change takes time. I feel more okay being vulnerable with friends because I am not seeking solutions or approval and I already know that big picture, I am already okay.

I stepped into this year fearlessly because I knew that no matter what, I would be returning to a familiar city to live with my best friends and finish my degree. I didn’t expect to make such good friends, or to have so much fun or that I would get to know myself so much better. 

In Germany, I have made friends who have reminded me that my experience in this world is just one of many valid ways to exist. We are all doing our best with the information and resources available to us and we should not be quick to judge.

Now, back in England, I still I feel blessed every goddamn day. For my health, my friends, the love and support I am given, my education, my financial stability etc.

Especially right now, I feel that life is not easy, but it is good, and I am glad for every bit of it.

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