One Sunday in February I went to the park, it was sunny and people have finally come out of their dens. Although everything was so white that it seemed motionless, life has begun to flow around me. As I stood in line for my coffee, I watched the lives of others, their movements, listened to their incomprehensible speeches, and I noticed that the color of the roses and the heart-shaped balloons broke the white of the snow. In fact, I realized that it was Valentine’s Day. A girl caught my attention: she walked among the people, with a white rose in her hand and a smile that only God knows how much I was envying her. Who knows if she bought it or someone gave it to her. Actually, I didn’t care much, she was happy and definitely in love. For me, this girl was like the madelaine for Proust: she suddenly opened the door of memories, which I usually keep tightly closed.
I’ve been getting a present from my boyfriend for almost eleven years. A flower, a chocolate or a book. It is not that he does them for me only on the 14th of February, but here, for Valentine’s Day he has never forgotten. To be honest, I’ve never noticed it, or rather, I’ve always taken that little attention for granted. If only I had first dwelt on the meaning of the gestures of love, I would have saved myself a lot of pain. Immersed in my thoughts, I continued walking through the streets of Szczecin until I came across a flower shop. The shop is small and is right on the street, the two florists greeted me from inside and in a second, I decided to buy two white roses. One for me, the other for my roommate.
It is the first rose I give myself and perhaps it is the first gift I give to myself in a long time. The gifts have always been given to me by others and when they asked me “what do you want for Christmas? And for the birthday? ”, I never had the answer. At first, I thought it was the pleasure of surprise, of seeing what they thought I wanted, but today I think differently. Perhaps I have never been able to answer because I actually did not have the answer. I have this habit of never knowing what I want and not because I don’t think about it or because I live for the day, but simply because I prefer things to happen to me. Much less responsibility, you know? Deciding what you really want requires a deep knowledge about yourself and self-confidence. Stating what you need in front of people requires a deep connection to your true inner self. I believed, thanks to my school and NVC trainings with amazing people, I was in a good point. Maybe, yes, most of the time. But, when it comes to the people I love and feel inside me, the clarity that usually distinguishes me, still disappears. I loose the empathy with myself, focusing only on others. I feel responsible for everything they do or say, as if they depend on me. While I was blaming others to put on my shoulders responsibilities, I figured out that it was me. It has always been me reproaching, blaming myself for everything. I was so tired about taking others as my responsibilities that I didn’t have energy to take responsibility of myself, but overall, to care about me! Now, that I’am here, this way isn’t working anymore so it’s time to move on. Time to forgive myself for expecting to worry about things clearly beyond me, to thank old Giulia – because despite all this, she did great – and openly greet the new one. Or better, the one that I always have been but I preferred to hide since I was too scared. Be gentle with myself now, connecting with my trues needs and caring about them is still delicate and I need practice, if I want to thrive my relationships. This white rose may be the beginning. May I have the girl’s smile in Jasne Blonia everyday as I love me. So that, I may have empathy for others.
Giulia from Italy, volunteer in Skoła Demokratyczna Droga Wolna in Szczecin.
Project is co-funded by European Solidarity Corps.