I’ve been here in England for a little more than a month and a half, and in that time I’ve done a lot. I’ve traveled to the Cotswolds, to Cardiff, to Stratford-Upon-Avon, to Tintern Abbey. I’ve also been lucky enough to find some hidden gems in the city of Oxford itself! Cafes like the Queen’s Lane Coffee House (the oldest coffee house in Europe) and beautiful explorations into nature like the Oxford Botanic Gardens. Of course, there have been ups and downs throughout, but I am thrilled to be here. I only have class 4 hours a week, which means I do a lot of work on my own. I’ve absolutely thrown myself into writing my literary urban fantasy novel, which has been my great magnum opus for about five years. I’m also attempting National Novel Writing Month for this November, which means that I am trying to write 50,000 words for the novel within the month. I thought this was the perfect challenge for this month, in addition to my work for uni.
Some of you may have noticed that about two weeks ago, I started posting outfits to Instagram. This is something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. My inspiration for this was my mom. Even when I felt really self-conscious about my body and my looks, when my mom saw me first thing in the morning she would demand a picture. Then she’d show me the pic, where I stood in my outfit complete with my awkward pose and nervous grimace, and say,
“Lookit you! You’re beautiful. Just beautiful!”
Though it was a small gesture of kindness, it added up, and after a while I wasn’t grimacing anymore. I was really smiling. I miss my mom a lot while I’m here, so I love to take my picture in my fancy outfits first thing in the morning and send her what I look like each day. True to form, she always sends back love. (You can go on Instagram to see the complete list of looks if you so desire!)
With the help of some great friends, such as my sister and my friend Ellie, I’ve decided to let this positive change spill into other areas of my life. I’m listening to pop music that I’ve denied myself most of my life (it’s GOOD, okay, it makes me want to dance, I don’t care if it’s not Art™) and going to see sights I’d otherwise wait to be invited to (pubs aren’t as scary as I always thought? I’ve yet to see someone get punched like in the saloons in movies, honestly a little disappointing), and buying myself cute little cacti and succulents (I named them Greenie, Doot Doot, and Sprouter)… I’m going to museums, to walking paths, to book stores, to stationary stores, and I’m finally letting myself wax poetic about things that I care about.
In the end, I am celebrating the joy of the everyday in ways that fill me with relief and happiness. I can’t believe I spent so much of my life trying to play it cool and act like I didn’t want to do these things, or denied myself them. Just because something is outside your comfort zone, or takes a little more time and effort, doesn’t mean it is unworthy. You never know, that Old Mout cider you buy with a friend at the Eagle and Child might be the best £4 you ever spend.
One of the most profound realizations that has come out of this life change is that I don’t need someone else to complete me. I have my God, myself, my writing, my friends, and my wonderful loving family. That’s a pretty long list, and one that I’ve spent too long minimizing. In the end, my great love is ME. I’ve been true to myself through thicc and thin (ha, ha), through sickness and health, through highs and lows. So, I plan on continuing this change. I plan on doing Pinterest hair tutorials just for fun, and buying that cute scarf just because, and trying new kinds of tea, and wearing sparkly gold on my eyes. Not for anyone else but me.
Let me know if you’ll be following these adventures in self-discovery, self-care, and self-love. And feel free to join me!!