Being able to know yourself, believing in your abilities, and having the courage to act on them is a lot easier said than done. People will constantly come at you blaming your background, your education, and comparing you to others… basically, people can be real bitches.
It is the little bird who whispering encouragement in your ear, the stranger in front of you at Starbucks who pays for your coffee, or the person in the elevator who compliments your scarf, that makes believing in yourself that much easier.
For me, it was the high school aged Italian girls. They unknowingly gave me the encouragement I needed after some tough criticism on my abilities, background and education.
‘I think, therefore I am’. The perfect words of advice always seem to come up right when you need them the most.
This idea came to me last Saturday at Liceo delle Scienze Umane Sofonisba Anguissola, an Italian highschool in Cremona, Italy.
Being undeniably proud of where I’m from, how I grew up, how I’ve changed, and how I view the world is the only thing keeping my ‘point of you’ on mark. Io penso, dunque io sono.
Speaking of comparing yourself with others… I can not help but put this little sidebar in. Comparing American High Schools to Italian ones…
How interesting is it to compare my background to these Italian students I encountered. How different my beliefs are, how different I view opportunity and life, and seeing more clearly than ever before that where you grow up really does effect the person you become.
Schools in America are very individualistic. Open discussion and expressing your opinion is encouraged.
I can personally think of numerous occasion where not raising my hand was completely okay. The power distance, the relationship between teachers and students, is low in American schools. The focus is on educating students to ‘learn how to learn’. Students have the opportunity to explore and study many different subjects without being too pressured to find an ‘in group’ at a young age. And thank god for that, I am twenty and I still don’t know what I want to do with my life….
It is mandatory to address the teacher formally. Buongiorno, Buonasera, Arrivederci. Mandatory to raise your hand. And group discussion and the chance to address personal opinion? …Not given.
The power distance in Italian schools is high, and the focus is on ‘learning how to do’. Italian students, in high school, have to choose what to study and specialize in. Holy shit!? Can you even imagine having to do that…
They study and have to stay with these ‘in-group’ that is formed at an early age.
My ‘point of you’ was formed in America, yet sometimes it takes someone from a completely different perspective to clear some questions of ‘who you are’ up for you.
It is kind of like this: Have you ever walked through a loud crowded place and felt completely alone? That feeling where despite all the things going on around you, your mind and heart are completely at peace? It is this same sensation… this sensation of completely understanding your own culture when your emerged into another.