Friday, November 30, 2007

As introspective as it gets

“… the strength to change things that need changing, the courage to accept things that cannot be changed, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

I’ve been taking inventory of things lately. You know, things having to do with my life. For a lot of people, going abroad is an opportunity to really grow as a person, and for me it’s no different.

At the risk of turning this into a journal entry, I want to air a few thoughts. As much as I have been able to change certain aspects of who I am in my time here in Wales, there are things about myself that I just have to accept. One of them is that I like politics more than I probably should, as evidenced by my involvement in campaigns and such over the years (exhibit A, my time at George Mason in the fall of 2004). Another is that I am a pretty good writer (yeah, that’s right, I’m confident enough about it to say it). Oh, and I tend to romanticize the past quite a bit too, making things generally seem rosier and experiences seem a lot better and more enjoyable in hindsight and with the benefit of some time having gone by.

Something else about myself that I have come to realize I must learn to (or at least try to) accept is that I can be an awkward person to be around. Honestly, I lack confidence at times, and fail to always project the kind of image that I want to. I don’t really know why. As much as I try, I can’t just be a badass who lives in the moment and lets things slide off his shoulders; life is hard, and shoulders are broad enough that things pile up on them from time to time.

I have also come to understand just how important it is for me to be in an environment that is at least somewhat familiar to me. I’ve never been one to adjust to great changes in the smoothest manner, and after the “honeymoon period” of my time here (see some of my earliest entries) wore off and I started to see this place for what it really is (in many ways, a somewhat typical college town where, despite all of its scenery and “quaintness” and such, there’s hardly anything to do after nightfall except study or go out to the pubs), suddenly things became a bit more difficult and less endearing. The whole walking-everywhere-I-had-to-go thing became less of a novelty, and I started to get irritated when people would look at me differently for my American accent. I began to reach out to my friends back home a bit more, with a sense of longing for what was familiar.

Despite the fact that I’ve met some great people, had many great experiences (many of which I’ve dutifully documented here) and seen some incredible things in my time here in the British Isles, I’d be lying if I said that I haven’t at times wished I was back at WU, in the capital city of Salem, generally living the life of convenience that I’ve become used to over the past few years of undergraduate life and being around the people I most enjoy. I read an e-mail just now from the great university president Marvin (aka M. Lee) Pelton – he never uses his first name, but sooner or later everyone finds out what it is anyway – about the annual Star Tree lighting ceremony on campus this Saturday, and it made me nostalgic for some of the Beta events we’ve done in the past (including the annual pennycoat drive, to raise money for the Salem homeless population -- if you're in the area, stop by the house tomorrow night and drop off a spare coat). Seriously, my friends at Willamette (who haven’t studied abroad, that is) have no idea how good we have it, when all is said and done, on our small, relatively isolated bubble of a campus.

Anyways, I figure that’s probably enough touchy-feely goodness for now. I think that what inspired me the most to write this was reading a note that a friend of mine posted online a while back, and thinking that you know, if he has the guts to admit these things in a forum as public as his Facebook account, it wouldn’t be too bad of a thing for me to own up to some of my failings as well. Let me know what you think.

Oh, and by the way, Gordon Brown is in (even more) trouble:


girlalex said...

I wouldn't consider any of the things you write about "failures", Casey. Just characteristics. It's good to be aware of those types of things about yourself, though.

And here's to mushy emotional blog entries. God knows it's MY forte.

I think you're lucky to have found a place you can call "home" - WU wasn't ever that for me, and I'm still feeling a tad adrift here at PSU - though at some point I need to buckle down and stick it out. Transferring once a year does not a degree earn. You'll be back to all that soon enough, so do take advantage of your remaining time in the UK (for me, if nothing else!) before returning to the NW.

Melissa said...

Great blog Casey, I've enjoyed reading about your time in Wales.

Elizabeth said...

i don't think they're failures, either. i think it's admirable how honest you are.

Anonymous said...

Hi Bruiser -
One of my favorite entries. Continue to smell the flowers of Wales, be at your creative best on remaining essays, and keep 'em spinning. I look forward to your return home.
your only Dad