This morning, a dear friend of mine sent me a picture taken exactly one year ago. On June 16th 2021, I graduated from high school, and it blows my mind when I realise how many things have happened since then.
The past few months brought some changes in my life as a volunteer that helped me to get closer to and discover new things about myself, as well as to have a closer look at how groups function. A significant part of my personal learning process was challenging myself to travel alone. As a person who never really minded doing things on her own, I was not extremely stressed about it, but of course, I had a few doubts about whether I was apt enough to find my way in every situation that might cross my path. Well, I discovered that (although I love going on trips with my friends, too) solo travelling really is my thing. Not only did it help me realise how persistent I can be in difficult situations, but it also gave me a kind of self-confidence I’ve never experienced before. Speaking of confidence, I feel like the ESC volunteering, in general, has made me pay more attention to being kind to myself. As a hardcore overthinker, sometimes every little action (or the lack of it) can make me question everything I have said or done to other people, but now I’m trying to focus on my values and how far I have come since I arrived here.
By putting myself into situations that were way out of my comfort zone, I am proud and somehow relieved that I managed to overcome some fears I had for years. Though challenging at first sight, I learnt once again that these are the steps that stimulate and inspire me the most, the ones I might be able to draw strength from when I start losing faith in myself.
The people I met here played (and some of them are still playing) a huge role in filling my everyday life with meaning: perhaps I’m not extremely close with everyone, but the conversations we had, the thoughts and ideas others shared with me, as well as their stories and experiences I could listen to make me forever grateful. Apart from practical skills like striking up a conversation in foreign languages or using different kinds of handicraft tools, I learnt a lot about body positivity, environmental awareness and the amazingly versatile nature of humans and how they perceive things.
Throughout the past months, I feel like I managed to find my place in my project. My colleagues seem to have more and more trust in me, thus entrusting me with more responsibilities, and letting me thrive in things that hold a special place in my heart (like drawing, designing and using my creativity). Many guests at the free time centre already greet me with great enthusiasm day after day; they let me in on their private lives, ask my opinion about things – or sometimes smile at me with no words needed. I am truly thankful to all of them for accepting and being patient with me despite sometimes struggling with expressing myself or understanding everything in German.
Truth be told, I can’t imagine leaving in less than two months… On one hand, it seems as if I just started my journey yesterday, but at the same time, it’s utterly odd how all these things, emotions, people, welcomes and goodbyes, laughs and tears, ups and downs were nowhere near my everyday life one year ago. Although, of course, not everything was particularly uplifting, I’m thankful for all the experiences that have shaped me, helped me get a better understanding of how things work in the world, and hence allowed me to gain something that might come in handy later in my life.
See you (frighteningly) soon in my final report,