The Art of Actualizing Me

I think I have to come home early. I miss you so much. I pressed send even though I knew I sounded pathetic. I was – I am the one who wanted to come on a solo vacation for nearly two weeks. I predicted periods of lonesomeness but not this soon. Only this morning I left my family in Milan and arrived in Tuscany. I haven’t even been alone for twenty-four hours. How could I already be in need of human interaction?

Maybe I am just lonely for him, I thought. The week I left he started a new job, we signed a lease on a new apartment, had out of town visitors, and I rushed to tie up loose ends at work. I poured a glass of wine and opened the window. I ran my fingers through my freshly blow-dried hair catching them on the knotted strands that had gotten stuck in the teeny travel-sized blow drier. Ouch. I sat down in the chair and stared at the vineyards. Sun graced the center of my view. Moody clouds hung in the back drop. I exhaled. I looked at my phone. I stood up. I sat back down. What the fuck am I supposed to do? I wondered.

My phone buzzed. Hahaha I would LOVE that but you just need some time to settle in. It always takes a few days at least to let the day to day worries filter out of your system so you can decompress and reflect.

Maybe it was the Chianti or my unabashed love for my boyfriend, who not only encouraged and supported me to take the time, but also gave me questions to think about, provided guidance for self-discovery, and gently pushed me towards clarity and actualization. Even if it’s for fifteen minutes, just write some things down. Anything. You’ll get there, he said smiling through the tiny screen on my iPhone. Thank god for wifi. But I started to cry. This is the process, he said. masterpiece

I didn’t open my journal or my computer. Instead, I went outside and walked through the vineyards. There were so many different colors of green. I remembered when we were little, my mom took us to Arizona. We hiked up a mountain to do a meditation. She sat us at the top and told us to choose a color of green. No focus on that color green. I looked around at all the different shades of green. I choose a shade. Now what do I do? I wondered. I walked through the baby chianti grapes just starting to grow and had a moment where I thought of new things growing, but it quickly passed. What am I doing with my life? A fleeting thought before I stepped in mud. My shoe was dirty. My brain couldn’t focus on anything substantial. Maybe I’m just not ready, I said to myself and walked back to my villa to pour another glass of wine.

That night I couldn’t sleep. I was plagued by fear that I wasn’t going to do what I came here to do. Fear that I would pass the time reading books, visiting medieval churches, drinking wine. I would run. I would relax, but I would not actually decompress enough to reflect and gain perspective. I worried that I lost my introspection. I wouldn’t examine my past few years and certainly wouldn’t find clarity on my next. The process alone seemed self-loathing: selfishly pouring over a myriad of self-analyzations in a country where more than a third of people my age are unemployed. Am I selfish? Am I some sort of product of a spoiled generation, overly privileged enough to fly to Italy to actualize myself because I was born with all of my other needs already fulfilled? A woman with unlimited access to skills and resources without intrinsic motivation or passion or discipline to accomplish any one thing. I rolled over and texted my boyfriend. I’m still awake.

I guess I thought it would come easy. Go to Tuscany. Drink Chianti. Reflect on your life. Become self-actualized. Decide on future. Visit Prada outlet store. Hell, I studied human behavior and feelings. I should be able to do this. Piece. Of. Cake. But like all things worth exploring, it’s a more complicated path than I anticipated. My only guiding light is a nagging feeling inside – an intuition – that this is indeed necessary. There is something in there. If that something is in there, then I have to forge on. I must try. My mind spiraled – what if the something isn’t actually that worthwhile? What if I’m just meant to be mediocre? Maybe I just have a kid and try to correct everything I didn’t do in my own life in the next generation? Or worse, what if nothing is there. I’m just an infinite black whole. I dozed off.

The next morning, over an espresso and a foggy countryside, I vowed to go inside. I got out my journal and sighed loudly. Okay, I screamed. A release. A sound off. A call to commence my commitment (re-commitment) to living my best life. To the ever-evolving art of actualizing me. I put my pen to the paper and got to work reassured that should it all fail, I have wine.

Emma Dinzebach

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