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3 A’s: Amazement, Anxiety, & Autonomy

When it comes to my mental health, the last thing I ever expected was anxiety being any kind of major concern for me. I have always been a confident type of person, always looking for adventures to experience and taking risks; and I am proud of how that confidence has made me very conscious about safety and security. The moment I touched down in Italy, however, all my survival skills flew out of my brain and all I had in my head was amazement and ANXIETY. I realized afterward that the anxiety I had (especially with the simultaneous amazement of being in Italy) made me susceptible to all the tourist traps and mistakes, which I did indeed engage in: exchanging money at the airport, revealing I’m American to those who asked, and paying WAYYY too much for a cab. Usually, that kind of experience would make me want to shut myself away in my room and cry for a week, but I did not have that luxury. I sill had and have so much to experience. I was also lucky as my peers and a staff member comforted me and didn’t make me feel bad when I talked about my experience, which was very comforting.

After some orientation sessions and my culture shock crisis, I finally became more comfortable and started doing some self-reflection. I never thought I was capable of having as much anxiety as I do. I was a deer in headlights! Thankfully, I feel myself slowly becoming more confident in myself. Just a few days ago, in trying to get over my anxiety, I went to the corner store by myself to buy some groceries. A simple action, and I was okay. When I got back to my apartment, I felt so proud of myself.

It is also comforting knowing that my housemates are somewhat anxious like I am. As I type this, my housemates are all booking flights and discussing travel plans. They are stressed with the process, and I’m feeling the anxiety slowly simmering within me. But, I am confident that I will be okay. In retrospect, I haven’t really made decisions on my own (ie. like booking flights and hostel reservations) before. Looking back, I wasn’t taught to make decisions since many things were decided for me, I guess that’s why I get anxiety in making decisions alone (like taking an EXTREMELY overpriced cab).

But now I need to learn how to make choices as an adult and not be indecisive. I feel myself growing up into a proper adult now more than ever. I guess experiencing the real world this way is pushing me to be more independent in a way that isn’t reliant on anyone else’s wants or needs, and I am fully ready to embrace that.

Coming to Italy, my main goal was to grow and become a better version of myself to love wholeheartedly. Now, after almost a week, I see myself growing more day by day. The hard truth is that the moment I arrived, I had no one to hold my hand and show me the way, I now have to figure things out myself. It was definitely a disappointment that I had to learn that the hard way on day one, but I celebrate my progress and lessons learned. Baby steps and a few big leaps have definitely lessened my anxiety. I am more encouraged than ever in my goals to become more autonomous, make decisions myself, and fully enjoy all the amazing aspects waiting for me to discover while abroad!

And this old world is a new world

And a bold world

For me!

-Leslie Bricusse


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