Mantras, self reflection, rice and cows

The past four months have changed me.

Wow I think we are all cringing at the cliche.

But it’s true. Bummer.

I’m not a drastically different person — actually I think I’m just more me. I’ve changed in little ways: I’m more patient, grateful, and empathetic; I’m not shy about speaking up about something I feel passionate about in a foreign language; I’m confident addressing a challenge when I have a plan; and I don’t flinch at the site of bodily fluids. Probably, however, the biggest and most important change of all is that I have learned what I need and how to advocate for myself without feeling guilty. It turns out, I don’t actually need a lot to be my best self. I just need water, food, a bit of chocolate, sleep, people I can count on, a safe household emotionally and physically, and a bit of whimsy in my life. You can cut out the running water, Wi-Fi, vegetables, and fruit and add in bed bugs (and maybe fleas?) and I’m okay. I can be me.

My team leader, Steph, suggested that I find a mantra to inspire me and help me get through difficult interactions–and I loved the idea, I just didn’t know what mine would be. Picking out your personal mantra is hard!!! Steph recommended one that I love and I feel like has encapsulated my year so far:

“I am stronger than this challenge and this challenge is making me even stronger”

This mantra inspires me, but I don’t feel like it’s mine. I love it, but I needed a new mantra.

Luckily for me, Facebook is a wonderful place. This new mantra is powerful, makes me laugh, reminds me how much I love myself, and is mine (and everyone ever’s on Facebook…but I’m claiming it for me):

“I am radiant.”

Here’s to a new year of advocating for myself, making mistakes, playing Bananagrams with my host siblings, eating starch, strengthening and seeking new relationships–with friends, coworkers, neighbors, and tienda owners–being homesick, learning everything thrown my way, crocheting until the cows across the street stop crying, and burning trash. Here’s to being radiant.