Thursday, May 29, 2014

Outpourings of a rambling mind

There’s so much to tell and not enough words. Maybe it’s because I write about thoughts, rather than feelings.

Big empty pieces of paper scare me, so does the possibility of not doing something great with my life.

I’m having a great time here, I’m really enjoying it, and yet there’s something missing. Why does it always have to be something missing?

I need inspiration sometimes, great stories to keep me going, a pep talk for the brain… and the soul. Real stories of bravery and success.

I notice things, too many things, way too much for my own good. But I can’t help it, I can’t disconnect, and since I’m not speaking, I listen and observe.

To some degree I’ve learn to accept, to live with myself, to push a little, but know my limits, to identify the triggers, to allow myself to use my coping mechanisms.

I still don’t sleep much, and even when I do, I often don’t rest. There’re too may thoughts coming in all the time. Maybe it’s because I don’t feel enough, or maybe I feel too much… somehow I can’t be sure.

I feel bad for winning and I can’t take compliments.

I have friends, yet I’m often alone.

I’m everyone’s confident, but I trust no-one.

I don’t want to think, but that’s all I seem able to do.

I wish I could meditate. I’m already good at shutting out the world, if I could only learn how to shut myself out…

I keep trying to find my place, wondering if I’m just denying that I might not have one.

They don’t get it, most of them I don’t care. I don’t judge them for their choices, so I don’t like them commenting on mine, even if the words are not always spoken… did I mentioned I notice things?

Sometimes people are embarrassed to “confess” some things to me, and maybe I should feel glad they care that much about losing my respect, but I just think it’s sad. I don’t mind people not telling me things, if it’s personal I’ll never ask, I figure they’ll share when they’re ready. The lying, however, I can’t say I like. But then again, how many times have I said I was fine when my inside was falling apart?

I need to be quiet, to be alone, but in the silence there’s no way to avoid my thoughts.
Sometimes I really wish I could be uncomplicated, but then I wonder if I would still have gotten here.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Defying Gravity - The truth about volunteering and EVS

"What we do for ourselves dies with us. What we do for others and the world remains and is immortal"*

Things that we think that we do for others offer end up being things that we do for ourselves, and volunteering might just be one of those things.

Everyone seems so grateful and impressed with our work as volunteers, but they can’t even being to understand how much these experiences do for us too. There are so many things I never thought I would do… even less enjoy, and yet here we are. The experiences, the challenges, the opportunities to face our fears and succeed… being able to learn through life experiences what can’t be taught in books.

Seeing how others live, observing the differences, take what’s best from each environment and learn to understand the worst. Learn to look for the story before jumping in with judgmental comments.
The chance to develop your skills, find new talents and be appreciated for doing what you like. Feel the gratitude and allow it to feed your dreams of doing something bigger.

People don’t understand why someone would work for free, but that’s only because they can’t see that rewards don’t always come in the form of money. We’re getting something in return, in fact, we’re getting so much in return that often I wonder who’s benefiting more with this project. I don’t work for free, I work for the learning and the challenge, the adventures and the smiles, I work for the chance to make a difference.

You learn to learn. To pay attention, to participate, not because they made you, but because you want to be more, to evolve.

There’s so much to be explored, and sometimes you just need the time and tools to do it. You learn to be responsible for your own path, or at least you should. It doesn’t matter if it’s always fair, if you work harder, if you give more, because at the end of the day it all depends on what your goals are. You give as much as you want based on what you want to achieve.

Some people claim they don’t like to think, but to me, reflecting about what we’re doing and where we’re going helps me to focus, to keep motivated.

There are so many different stories, different people, different backgrounds, different experiences and expectations, and by talking and sharing we may discover different perspectives and reasonings.
“What’s the meaning of EVS?” they ask, and I don’t really think there’s one answer to that question. I think EVS means a lot of different things, and what really matters is what it means for you now, when you are living it.

People will see your EVS differently, depending on their knowledge and their perspectives, and that’s alright. The important thing is that you keep true to yourself and don’t forget your goals.

There’s so much I’ve achieved with EVS so far, and sometimes it’s hard to believe that you’ll keep changing, but I don’t want the progression to be over. We’re halfway there and though I feel I’ve accomplished a lot so far, I still want more. I will always want more.

I’m learning how to be proud of myself… I never really felt I deserved all the credit for my Au Pair year. It was, without a doubt, the best experience of my life, but it all started because I was too scared and had to run away. It worked out great, but in a way I was choosing the easiest road. With EVS is different, I didn’t have to put myself through this, I had other options, I had safer options, and yet here I am, because I wanted to go further, because no matter how much I hate to leave my comfort zone, what I hate even more is to feel stale, to feel that I’m not learning, that I’m not doing something for people, for myself.

I keep looking for something I’m not quite sure what it is, but along the way I found a way to make the journey more interesting and memorable.

*Albert Pine Quoted Mandy Patinkin as Jason Gideon In  Criminal Minds S01E02 

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Working with kids

I like working with kids, there’s no doubt about it. Sometimes is tough, often is a lot of work, but there’s nothing more rewarding than the smiles and hugs you get when you manage to reach them.

I’m not a happy person, I often get lost in the worries inside my head, so I love when I finish an activity with this feeling of accomplishment. It’s not always clear what goes behind the scenes, some people think it’s just showing up and play some games, but there’s a lot of work behind it. A lot of thinking, a lot of planning, a lot of stress and above all, a lot of challenges. It’s easy to lose the big picture when you’re tired and cranky and… scared, but it’s all worth it. Every step back, every last minute change, every hard group, every panic attack prepares you for something bigger. And if you just hold on long enough, sooner you’ll see how you wouldn’t have it any other way. 

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Mother's Day/Dia da mãe

Nota: Versão portuguesa mais abaixo

I’ve always had this thing with lists, and writing things down. Maybe because my mind is so messy that I need some sense of structure, maybe because I always had this big fear of forgetting… I don’t know.

When I was younger, whenever I felt wronged or misunderstood by my parents I used to write down all the things I wouldn’t do if I was ever to have children. I wouldn’t take positive notes, but I it was really important for me to have a reminder of all that I didn’t want to become.

I think you go through stages in life… when you’re a child, your parents are your whole world, your saviors, the ones that can make everything right in a second, no matter what. You enjoy spending time with them, you’re eager to please them, and even if you don’t always admit, sometimes you wish you could stay their baby forever. Nothing is too big or too bad, no dream is ever too scary, because you know that all you have to do is run to their arms and everything will be fine again.

Things start changing when you’re not a little kid anymore, when you’re expected to do things on your own, when you realize that there are things that can’t be fixed and some promises that can be broken.  

In your teens, you suddenly realize that your heroes are not perfect, that not only they can’t fix everything, sometimes they just seem to take pleasure in make your day worst. Their priorities are all messed up, they don’t have a clue about what’s really going on with you and they keep calling you out on things that you couldn’t care less about. There’s so much happening around you, so many changes, that it’s hard enough to keep up with it without having to deal with the extra pressure. There’s this strive for independence, the need to find your own identity. Pleasing your parents not only becomes less important, sometimes you even feel the need to make a stand about how different from them you are. It’s a tough period in your life, and even if you play it cool, days where you just wish do disappear come more often than you allow yourself to admit.

Luckily, just as suddenly as it came, all that anger and hate eventually fades away. Some things are never forgotten, and the smallest injustice can still hurt after so many years, but you learn to accept it and move on. Time gives you the ability to see things from a different point of view, and relationships where you try your best though you have no clue of what you’re doing, help you realize how difficult it is to love someone so much without smothering them or try to stop them to make mistakes. You learn to own your mistakes and take responsibility for your actions when the ability to empathize with your parents (that had been lost for years), reappears and it helps you see that maybe, just maybe, some of the pain was also caused by how you decided to deal with things.

You’re not a kid anymore, even if you still haven’t figured out how you feel about it most of the time. Your parents are confiding in you now, asking your opinion, wanting advice, and there’s something about having them admitting that they don’t know all the answers, that makes them more human. Something strikes in you when you understand how hard it is to make choices about a person when you have no guarantees of what will be best for them.  Eventually you start thinking that maybe you should rephrase your lists and instead of focusing on the person that you don’t want to be, you should focus about the one you want to become.

It is said that when you get older, or have children of your own, you finally understand all of those little things that your parents used to do that you hated so much. I don’t know if I believe that’s true, but I know now that parenthood is tough. And that regardless the fact that in the future you might end up agreeing with their choices or not, for the best and for the worst, parental figures will mark your life.

Sometimes you need to take a step back for a while, but hopefully afterwards, if you look closer you’ll be able to see the whole picture. You won’t magically wake up one day thinking that your parents are the most perfect creatures in the world, but you might realize here and there, how the way you were raised helped you get where you are today.

Dia da Mãe

Sempre tive a mania de fazer listas e escrever anotações. Talvez porque a minha cabeça é tão caótica que preciso de sentir alguma organização, talvez porque sempre tive este medo enorme de me esquecer das coisas… não sei.

Quando era mais miúda, sempre que me sentia injustiçada ou incompreendida pelos meios pais costumava escrever todas as coisas que não faria se alguma vez tivesse filhos. Não apontava factores positivos, mas era muito importante para mim ter algo que me lembrasse daquilo que eu não me queria tornar.

Acho que passamos por diferentes fases durante a vida… quando és uma criança, os teus pais são o teu mundo, os teus heróis, aqueles que, aconteça o que acontecer, podem fazer com que tudo fique bem em apenas um segundo. Gostas de passar tempo com eles, estás sempre ansioso por agradá-los, e apesar de nem sempre admitires, às vezes desejas que pudesses ficar o seu bebé para sempre. Nada é demasiado grande ou mau, nenhum sonho é demasiado assustador, porque sabes que tudo o que tens de fazer é correr para os seus braços que tudo ficará bem.

As coisas mudam quando deixas de ser uma criança pequena, quando esperam que faças coisas sozinho, quando te apercebes que há coisas que não se podem resolver e promessas que se podem quebrar.

Durante a adolescência, de repente apercebeste que os teus heróis não são perfeitos. Que não só não podem resolver tudo, às vezes parecem ter prazer em tornar o teu dia mais difícil. As suas prioridades estão todas trocadas, não fazem ideia do que se passa contigo na realidade, e estão sempre a chamar-te a atenção sobre pormenores que para ti não significam nada. Há tanta coisa a acontecer à tua volta, tantas mudanças, é suficientemente difícil seguir em frente sem ter de lidar com a pressão extra. Há uma necessidade de independência, de encontrares a tua própria identidade. Agradar os teus pais não só deixa de ser menos importante, às vezes tens mesmo a necessidade de mostrar o quão diferente deles tu és. É um período difícil, e mesmo que finjas que não te afecta, dias em que só queres desaparecer são mais comuns do que admites a ti mesmo.

Felizmente, tão depressa como veio, a raiva e o ódio acabam por desvanecer. Algumas coisas não se esquecem, as mais pequenas injustiças ainda magoam passados tantos anos, mas aprendes a aceitá-las e a seguir em frente. O tempo dá-te a capacidade de ver as coisas numa perspectiva diferente, e as relações em que dás o teu melhor apesar de não teres a mais pequena ideia do que estás a fazer, ajudam-te a perceber como é difícil amar alguém e não o sufocar, ou tentar impedir que cometa erros. Aprendes a assumir os teus erros e a aceitar responsabilidade pelas tuas acções quando a capacidade de empatizar com os teus pais (que há anos andava perdida), reaparece e te ajuda a ver que se calhar, parte do problema foi causada pela forma como tu decidiste ligar com as coisas.

Já não és uma criança, mesmo que a maior parte do tempo ainda não tenhas a certeza do que sentes sobre isso. Os teus pais começaram a confidenciar-te os seus problemas, a pedir a tua opinião, a querer conselhos, e há algo no facto de admitirem que não têm todas as respostas que os torna mais humanos.  Há algo que em ti desperta, quando compreendes como é difícil fazer escolhas por alguém sem ter garantias do que é melhor para eles. Com o tempo, começas a pensar em refazer as tuas listas, e ao invés de te focares na pessoa que não queres ser, talvez devesses focar-te na pessoa que te queres tornar.

Dizem que quando cresces, ou tens os teus próprios filhos, finalmente percebes todas as pequenas coisas que os teus pais faziam e que odiavas tanto. Não sei se acredito que isso é verdade, mas sei que ser pai é difícil, e que independentemente do facto de no futuro poderes vir a concordar com as suas escolhas ou não, para o melhor e para o pior, as figuras paternais marcam a tua vida.

Às vezes é preciso distanciarmo-nos por um momento, mas com sorte depois, se olhares com atenção, vais conseguir ver tudo de forma mais clara. Não vais acordar um dia e, magicamente, pensar que os teus pais são as criaturas mais perfeitas do universo, mas talvez que apercebas, aqui e ali, de como a forma como foste criado te ajudou a chegar onde estás hoje.