How Being in Europe Has Helped With My Confidence

As a precaution, you should know that this is a very transparent post. I have often deferred from such posts since I felt that being transparent with viewers on the internet would be a little odd. First, you have no idea who I am, so that stirred a sense of fear. And second, I wouldn't want to share my personal information with just anyone, never mind people on the web. However, all that seemed not to matter once I got a blog. Or more importantly, once I realized that my blog was my safe writing space (apart from my journal). Nonetheless, these are my thoughts--personal and otherwise--during my 3 month stay in Europe this summer.

As most people I interact with may know, I am spending my summer in Europe, or more specifically, Romania. This does sound rather luxurious, exotic, cultural, and whatever adjective you wish to insert, but I assure you, it's not as glamorous as it appears. It took a very long to adjust to the culture, the way of life, the method of thinking, the way people are, act, and speak, and how the country functions. It was more difficult to adjust simply because this was going to be a long haul. It's not a two week stay, like last year, where we switched on survival mode and got the heck out of there. On the contrary, it was going to be a longer stay in one place, so we better learn how things work around here. That was a very difficult task. Everyone in my family dealt with it differently--some stuffed it, while others vented their frustration more often (i.e. me). Things are done completely different than what I used to back in Canada and even the United States. People are different, the way things are done are entirely different, and the standard for things are different as well. Which brings me to my main point: my confidence suffered rather significantly as a result of this world I was thrusted in. Girls dress quite differently (and I say that as politely as I can), many women are thinner and more petite than I (although it can be argued whether skinny is equated to toned), and receive a lot of attention as a result from their, er, fashion choices. A tainted filter entered my perspective, causing to see myself in a negative light. However, regardless of the struggles I initially faced when I first arrived here, I realized, quite early on actually, that this is a good thing. A very good thing, in fact, and I'll tell you why.

1. I mentioned that the women in Europe in general are more petite and thinner, but that is not the result of a healthy lifestyle. Again, I'm not speaking about every single woman, but rather as a general. Most women drink a lot of coffee and usually smoke, causing their frames to be small and petite in number, but they are immersed in a stressful environment. The smoking and excessive coffee drinking eventually begins to have a toll on the body. So, while they be skinny, they are not fit. I took it upon myself to simply observe the thin women on the street. I will not say all, but a good majority of them are not fit. Meaning, they are not toned, their bodies are not trim, and it shows they do not lead a healthy and active lifestyle. The little meat on their bones jiggles, expressing that they engage in little physical exercise. At first, I was very angry and envious. What do you mean that they barely work out and look like little twigs and here I am, working 3-4 times a week in the gym and I'm still not thin? Then, the little lightbulb in my head flashed. I have to accept that I have a specific body shape that cannot be altered (nor do I want to), but if I want to look the best that I can be, then I should do something about it. I constantly looked at pictures on Pinterest with girls that had a significantly smaller frame than I. I could grumble under my breath how I desired to look like that. However, when I was at the gym, I stuck to cardio, thinking the calories would be burned and the weight would drop. Alas, that didn't prove very successful. Especially with the wave of women that entered my sights and seeing their frames, I was motivated to change things up. However, with no gym and a small apartment proved rather difficult to begin an intense regime. Fortunately, my sister packed the Insanity workout regime. Thus began the journey to push my body as far as it can, knowing that I can be better. I can do better, I can push harder, and I can sweat for longer. I can made tremendous improvements; as encouraging as the progress has been, I still have a little more to go. My goal is losing 15 pounds so I can be truly satisfied with my weight loss. I've made quite a dent, but I will not stop until it's reached. I've noticed that as my tops and pants get looser and looser, I am encouraged by how I look. Moreover, I am falling in love with how I look.

2. As a result of working out hardcore, I can now wear clothes I've always wanted to wear but couldn't. The moment when I put that top on and I fit into (and it's loose!) was a beautiful moment. But it's not merely wearing clothes I've wanted to wear. My confidence grew stronger, prompting me to wear more prints and bold prints. I like the cool, classic, and neutral vide Western Europe has, while Eastern Europe is concerned with bright colors, prints, and flowy details. Wearing more pops of color and purchasing more garments with prints on them tell me that I am secure in my body. But, honestly, it's more about the prints and how it looks on me. Light colors contrast my dark tan and prints fall nicely on my frame. The clothing market sells different pieces that I would never find back home, pushing me to step out of my comfort zone, fashion wise. While I lean towards the classic and cool style, I find that prints are slowly becoming part of my wardrobe.

3. In conjunction with my burgeoning wardrobe and working out, I am more excited to wear them on the streets. I need to pause right here and point that the men in Romania stare. I can gotten more angry and furious at the incessant staring than anything else in this country. I'd be walking in shorts, maxi skirt, or a dress, and yet, they still feel that I am a piece of meat. It really bothered me at first, but at this point, my perspective is if they're going to look (since it is inevitable), I should feel flattered that they are glancing at something dressed in appropriate clothing, flatters my shape, and shows that classy doesn't mean outdated. The girls here expose a lot of skin and in contrast, I do not like expose an excessive amount of skin (as that is my personal preference). So the difference of clothing choices also inevitably sets me apart, and I have accepted that. But at the same time, that also says something flattering regarding how I look, my shape, and how I'm dressed, and as much as I find the attention annoying, I take it as a complement (most of the time).

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