Here it’s Giulia from Italy. You already know I’m volunteering in the democratic school “Droga Wolna” in Szczecin, as a project of European solidarity corps coordinated by Active Women Association. Sitting on the train, I was thinking and listening in a loop to a song recently known thanks to my Georgian friends, Kite – Jonny Boy from the movie “And then we danced”. I’m not sure why this song has been in my head for days, it may be its music that allows my body to move spontaneously, or maybe it may be the memories of happy days that this song will keep forever.
The idea of spending Christmas in a foreign land when my plans were completely different, and living almost a month with complete strangers, almost led me to exasperation. I don’t like changes. The surprises and not knowing who-what-how-when, even less. You can only imagine my state of mind when I left for the capital. What if something goes wrong? What if I don’t like them? Worse still, what if they don’t like me? Maybe it’s better to spend a month alone instead of taking these risks? To you they may seem stupid adolescent doubts – and they are – but, for someone like me, who has always lived in a straight line, with the same friends she can twitch on the fingers of one hand, with the same guy for more than ten years, they are really high peaks to climb.
These strangers, who have been my family in every ways for a month, have taught me so much. I realized that it is not so much the fear of the other that keeps me from meeting, but it is the fear of letting others see me. The fear of showing myself and sharing pieces of soul. I often say that before letting a person into my space, I need to be sure I can trust them. I spend so much time testing people, whether they are worthy of my trust or not, forecasting if they will hurt me or not, that eventually the urge to meet goes out and nothing remains. It’s as if the thought of being precious prevents me from seeing how precious others are, how much the game is worth the candle. Not long ago, I told a friend how much this adventure is opening my eyes: I really believed to be in a good point referring to be welcoming and openminded, but the truth is that I still have a lot to learn.
The only lessons I can attend compared to this are outside the university classes, outside the walls of my home, outside my scout office, outside my trusted bar. These lessons are taught by the world, not the known one, but the unknown one. Because when the unknown finally translates into “surprise”, fear turns into excitement. And I think it is not really a coincidence that my favorite song in the face of the difficulty of finally being yourself, suggests to go out: “I know myself and I think it doesn’t work to be myself, and easyness, no I don’t know what it comes then I go out”. Eventually, I went out. I reached the border of the space I knew, I explored it, I hesitated sometimes, but once overcame, the way is simply amazing. Beyond my border, I found the freest human beings in the world. My adventure companions are living in such pure and transparent way that they make you want to not hide anymore. They let me see themselves through my eyes, they stared at me with a welcoming smile that only those who are authentic are able to have, with open arms as if to say “I am this, come in, I don’t care about the risks because you are worth it”. The surprise: being loved by strangers in a foreign country, When someone shows you this thing here, which is called love, you take it, at first maybe you keep it inside you, but in the end it needs so much air that you can only share it to others again.
Don’t stay where you can’t be authentic, I tell myself. Get out. Meet. Observe the living and let yourself be observed: a wound cannot make you lose yourself, it will just be another part of you. When you start practicing the art of authenticity, no longer repressing your body and your thoughts, you can no longer live without it. In this month, I experienced letting go of control, speaking out loud because I am worth to be seen and heard. I experienced my body again and letting it move, following the music inside and outside of me, under the gaze of others it gave me the lightness that I had been missing for a long time. Let’s say this: how hard is it to pretend to be someone else? How heavy is it to keep this theater going on?! On the other side, being authentic is living light, and it’s simple. And anyway, when three of us share these moments of freedom and authenticity, dancing becomes flying. What a magic!
Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Skoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.