May 29, 2014

Ch Ch Changing

"If you were in Spain for three years, why didn't you grow a mustache?" Hours after getting off the plane, I rode with my family to Nashville for my nephew's birthday. Being the second youngest, I was smashed in the backseat with my younger brother. He was disappointed to find out that despite being away for four months (not three years), I was still facial hair free.

There are many stereotypes surrounding students who have recently studied abroad in Europe. We're supposed to hop off the plane disgusted by America's love of fast food and lack of public transportation. We recall memories of the well-dressed Europeans we drank cappuccinos and shared cigarettes with. Wherever we studied is more advanced, environmental friendly, and therefore better than our home state,

Truthfully, I'm still the same Marissa I was in January. I didn't start wearing only black and smoking roll-your-own cigarettes. I still wear pink...I've just added scarves to my ensembles. I didn't transform into a liberal environmentalist, but I don't think I'll ever return to taking 20 minute showers. I'm rocking straight across bangs but with a hair bow in my sorority's colors. Tapas, tinto de verano and siestas have been tattooed into my heart, but I still fly Old Glory with pride and thank God every night for my freedom, customer service, and sweet tea.

WHS Rose Ceremony 2010
A few nights ago, two of my friends from high school came over. We sat and laughed for hours and I couldn't believe that six years, five colleges, three cities and two continents later, I still call these girls my best friends. I look at my bedroom adorned with sparkly crowns and smile knowing that despite the places we have been and the choices we have made, some things never change.

The things that did change were the ones that needed to.

I needed to realize that these experiences, that college is not going to last forever and maybe it is time for adult habits, like making my bed every morning. I needed to learn that it was not my family or a boy or my best friend was in charge of my happiness. If someone couldn't give me what I wanted, I had to let go of that control or let go of that person. If I wanting to find peace within myself, I had to buckle down, love myself and grow up a little.

All the places I've been, habits I've held, and people I've met have shaped me into the person I am today. Some of these habits I've kept, like becoming a runner and journaling everyday. Others I've had to let go, like freshman nightlife and sugary coffee. This summer is another choice to build and break habits. Only this time, my adventure won't be across the state or the world, but in the place I've called home for the last eight years.