Life is a series of hellos and goodbyes. I’m afraid it’s time for goodbye again.
I could use two completely different approaches when I began writing this article. It is dedicated to my exchange abroad which took place from September to December 2016, in one of the most beautiful cities in the world, Madrid. Its exquisite charm captured me from the very beginning, it was love at first sight that never left my heart despite the difficult parts of this challenging road. The crowds, the magnificent historical and cultural sights, the warmth — both the weather and the people, its aliveness… I’m going to miss all this, and much more.
The first approach mentioned above is taking a look back, going through my sincerest memories, talking about my regrets and my past happiness. I could talk about the first moment when my feet touched the ground, about the first time I ever saw summer Madrid — suffused with the burning light of the sunset, just as crowded and alive as always, just as beautiful and enchanting… I could share my first great impressions of the university campus and my slight disappointments from the quality of the studies themselves. I could write hundreds of words just to describe the first time I met my flatmates who later became my weirdest friends, and thousands more to talk about all the amazing experiences we’ve had together — crossing out the main points of our ‘to-visit’ lists, eating the traditional paella and the delicious churros con chocolate, going to random bars to try the popular tapas and enjoy a glass or more of vino blanco; exploring the culture and the nature of Madrid and the surrounding towns.
We all came from different countries, each of us bringing the uniqueness of their cultural and social background. We all pursued our own dreams, fought to achieve our own goals. Our daily schedules and reasons to be in Madrid were different and yet we became close friends – even more than that: we became a big international family. It sounds like a cliché but there’s no other way to describe our relationship and the friendship that we built during the last four months.
Before Christmas, we organized a Secret Santa and I can truly say that the gift I received was the most generous and memorable one. I got a notebook – full of love and compassion, full of memories and experiences. The words written by my friends will be my motivation in the future and will warm my soul anytime I re-read them…
Using this first approach, I can look back as long as I want to, I can let myself be nostalgic and think of how good my life has been — despite the missed chances, despite the disappointments, despite the regrets and the bad times. I can focus on the past experiences and the way they influenced me to change and evolve — which is, in fact, so much more than any other experience in my life. By talking to my friends, by sharing my feelings and thoughts with them, and receiving their trust to do the same, I was inspired to start my blog Seek The Unique and to make the first step of the journey of discovering myself and creating a vision for my present and my future life.
Therefore, by choosing to describe my exchange in Madrid in the ‘looking back’ approach, I can clearly see the millions reasons I’ve had to be thankful — for having the opportunity to go there, for meeting those unique people and sharing all the good and bad times together, for their support, for their listening to my complaints, my visions, my hopes and dreams. And for them trusting me with their own intimate worlds.
My exchange in Madrid was not a magical fairy-tale and there were those moments when the world was full of sadness and nostalgia. I’ve got my regrets and I’ve got my terribly hurtful feelings that would make it impossible to force myself out of my bed. Even if I could, I would never erase them from my experience, though. They added up to its uniqueness and helped me appreciate the beauty of the world and the significance of the good moments. And so, I’m grateful for having had all this.
This biggest disadvantage of this approach is that you concentrate on the past, on what’s lost and forget to keep your sight on what’s coming next. We must always be prepared for the future and we must always live in the present.
I’ve been happy. I’ve been sad. I’ve been excited and I’ve felt low. Anyway, now it’s time to move on to another adventure and to seek the unique in other places and other people. And this is the second approach — taking the most of my time in Madrid, remembering all the learnt lessons, and chasing my goals in the moment happening right now.
I believe that in a human’s heart there’s enough space for the whole universe – and mine is ready to collect new experiences and to develop new bonds. I’ll always come back to the memories made in Madrid — because they have left an enormous mark on my life. But now I have to look forward with expectation and excitement, not back with regrets. We, my friends, will meet again and will create new memories together — in a different place, in a different way and as different people. We will share our achievements and our happiness, and will have a friendship that evolves as our life changes. We might not be able to share our morning coffee or to have meaningful conversations at late dinner — this does not mean that our friendship is over. It means that we should take it to another level and shape it in the most appropriate way to reflect the newness in our life. I believe that the best relationships are those who survive the changes and reconstruct themselves accordingly.
Now, my life is going to be changed again — I am going to meet new challenges and to fight new battles. There are more lessons to learn and in order to do so, I must keep moving forward. It is going to be difficult because the course of my life did not head in the most positive direction and some of challenges that I am going to face will pose a thread to anything I’ve achieved so far. It was easier to create a vision in a place where my soul found peace; now I must acquire the ability to preserve my peace of mind in another, less positive environment and to find the good in the bad, to focus on what can be improved, how it can be improved and how much of its improvement is within my power, or how I can motivate the people in whose control it is. I can use my newly gained knowledge in Madrid to create a positive change wherever possible — and to build a strong shield of positivism against the negativity wherever it cannot be erased. I must stay focused on my goals and I must keep the path started during my exchange, otherwise anything I’ve learned and achieved so far will lose its significance. What I’m sure about is: doing so is within my control.
A young wise man once told me: ‘My only focus should be directed to the closest Present.’ And I believe in the truth behind these words.
Our life is a perfect and unique combination of Looking Back and Looking Forward. And yet, our life is whatever is happening in this exact moment — we can be grateful for the Past, we can be excited about the Future but we are Living in the Present.
PS. Share your Unique stories with me in the comment box!