Who am I now? And who have I been before? Two simple and at the same time immensely difficult questions.
First of all: I'm still the same person like one year before. I learned a lot, grew up, developed my personality. But that didn't change the very person I am. My soul inside my heart is still the same.
But a lot of my characteristics changed. When I think back and remember the Lisa one year ago, I'm slightly suprised by myself: I remember a scared and sometimes desperate Lisa. Scared because of the perspective of going abroad; desperate because I dreamt for a long time of going abroad and then, when the moment finally arrived, I got scared. So it was like a never ending circle: All my brave and curious elements seemed to be gone, the negative and scared emotions dominated and whenever I tried to fight or conquer them, I only made it worse.
But now, as I think about it, other opinions come to my mind: Suddenly I also admire my 'old' self a little bit for being brave enough to not let my negative emotions get me down, but stand up and fight my fear in some kind of silent, patient revolt. Because I have to admit that I don't know if I could do this year again if I knew what awaits me. The months that lie behind me were anything but easy. Sometimes they made me feel left alone, sometimes frustrated, sometimes again close to desperate, very often stressed. Of course there were also happy and joyful moments; I found some new friends, saw stunning places and made extremely valuable experiences. But I really have to say that I don't know if I would have the patience and energy to do that year again.
I don't want to go too much into detail why my year was sometimes so bad. The main problems were because of my receiving organisation (and, on that point, I should maybe explain my extraordinary year of volunteering: It started with a short term EVS in 2016 in Italy after which I was asked to return as an EVS mentor instead of volunteer in 2017. All in all, I spent 8-9 months in Italy).
But let's not talk only about negative aspects. I mean, I also learned a lot. Like for example the value of communication. I don't stress myself so much anymore with work and doing everything perfectly. I defeated some (unconscious) prejudices and learned at the same time to see and judge people more critically. I lost a big part of my idealism and gained a more realistic point of view on life. This sounds a little bit sad now, but in the end it was a good development – I lost part of my juvenile enthusiasm and idealism and grew up instead.
Maybe I can sum it up this way: I learned that where is light, is also shadow. But – vice versa - I also learned that where is shadow, there also has to be light.
On the long run I probably learned more than I am aware off right now. I found out what is really important to me in my life and what suits me. I gained a lot of food for thought that doesn't influence my life so much immediately, but may effect me strongly on the long run. I integrated some new life styles in my life which I didn't know like this before, but I don't want to miss them anymore (like being more spontaneous and losing some of my 'old' materialism). And I learned that you can find some positive aspects even in the worst situations.
All in all: In a situation, in which I was not in the very best state of mental and physical health after a heavy personal crisis, I put myself at very difficult living conditions and I mastered them insanely well. Actually, I mastered them so insanely well that today I'm 'stronger' and healthier than ever before. I think I achieved more by my own strength than I am aware off.
So... who am I now? I am Lisa, ready for life, ready for the world.