Last year, I wrote a post reflecting on what my first year in Paris had been like. Though I acknowledged a lot of positive elements from my first year, I also described the sensation of struggling between the person I was inside and the person I was forced to be due to my lack of ability to express myself in French.
Now I face a whole different kind of struggle. One which I can’t really get into here (yet! but maybe if all you boys and girls are good I’ll save you a nice story for later…;) ), but mostly with money. HOLY HELL Paris is expensive. And the taxes are just, well… that’s a first world problem and I’m just going to go ahead and bite my tongue (can’t hurt any worse than those bills from the government! Ouch!).
However, I am able to happily report that, for the most part, I feel a lot more like myself than I did 365 days ago. There’s a few reasons for that, which include:
- I’ve kept a lot of the friends I met in year one, and have been able to let go of my insecurities around them. I no longer fear that they’re going to think I’m stupid if I make a mistake in French, and I no longer worry that they’re going to think I’m stupid if I butt into a conversation in English. I think they know me, now, and they’ve decided to stick around. They’re either loyal to a fault, or messy conversation isn’t all that bad.
- I’ve improved my French. I mean, let’s hope so, right? Seriously, after being here for 2 years, I’d like to think I can answer my own cell phone and not have a heart attack. Okay, I’m still working on that one, but I can definitely participate in conversations now that I couldn’t before, and people remind me all the time that I’ve come a long way.
- I’ve gotten into the rhythm of how life works here. Do I still get frustrated at processes that are painstakingly inefficient? You bet. But do I expect them now, and have a good laugh about it? Most of the time. And it doesn’t hurt that even on its ugliest days, Paris is still pretty.
- I made some catastrophic mistakes in 2012. How can that make me feel more like myself, you ask? Well, first of all, I wouldn’t be me without some huge blunders now and then. And second, I forced myself to look at who I was and what I was doing, and realized I was starting to get off track. I have this weird philosophy about myself that I’m always changing, and I still am, but I’d like to at least be changing in positive directions. I was starting to go the other way, and was able to reroute myself.
So there you have it. I spent my Two Year France-iversary watching the rain come down outside of my apartment and watching Saving Private Ryan (for the first time) in light of our recent trip to Normandy. Oh yeah, there was wine in there, too. For what is an anniversary without a toast…