It’s weird to think that in order to find yourself you have to leave behind what’s familiar. The place you grew up in and the people that surround you feel like they should make up who you are, and they do to an extent. But I feel like by being away from that, it is easier to see yourself more clearly.
But that’s what I’ve done in the past two years of studying at Maynooth. When I was on the plane here it finally hit me that I was going to a completely new place, where I had no connections and knew no one. But by throwing myself into a completely new situation with no one who knew the past me, no one with who I felt the pressure of upholding certain aspects of myself that no longer fit, I was able to understand myself more.
I began to figure out what was actually important to me, not what my parents said was important or high school friends said was important, and then I was able to find people who matched those values. Of course, I messed up a lot, whether that was in grades or friendships, but mistakes are the greatest teacher.
Going abroad has forced me to grow and made me want to. I don’t feel like I could have gotten the same experience if I had stayed in the states. Of course, there would have been challenges similar to that of Maynooth, like having to make friends in a new college or trying to juggle university and work, but it couldn’t match creating a whole new life in a different country. Things would have been comfortable in America in comparison, it would have been easy. But growing into yourself and who you want to be rarely is. Because for me, I didn’t know who I was when I got to Maynooth, I couldn’t have “been myself” because who was I was but a series of expectations that I had absorbed by those around me. I was the quiet bookworm who was wise beyond her years. But Maynooth offered a blank slate from that and through my mistakes and successes, I found fragments of who I really am.
Maynooth has helped create the foundation of who I am, but I am still growing and I hope I get to stay here a bit longer to see what I grow into here.