Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Agoraphobia Musings and Strangers

I wasn't always shy.

I used to be adventurous.  I never wanted to be at home; it was always: run, go, do, see, explore, create.  Never just "be."  Everything was open to me.  The world was my oyster.

Slowly, though, the constraints of school and life and growing-up crept closer and closer until going and doing and seeing and exploring were very low on the priority list.  Then, I moved to Rome.  What a dry patch!  For a year, I had no friends except the ones I had to be on the computer to see.  Home became the theme.  I rarely left the house unless I absolutely had to, and even then, I would get anxious about all of the people and everything I wasn't used to and I would hurry back into my shell.

My personality changed.  Being in a place where being American is uncommon muddled my thoughts and made me shy.  I didn't want to stand out, so I backed into a dark corner and hid as best as I could.  My thoughts were just a series of commands.  "Walk tall.  Don't look him in the eye; he's sketchy.  Pronounce Italian better, dummy, they're going to think you're an idiot.  Don't make eye contact; that lady might start a conversation and that could get awkward."

So I would stay inside.

I became a homebody.  I would groan when we left the house, or if I had to go somewhere by myself.  And I was immensely frustrated with this new development.

And then it all changed.  I moved to Brussels and made some friends who happen to live a good distance away.  In order to see them, I have to walk about 5 minutes to the bus stop, take a 15 minute bus ride to the train station, and then ride the train for 45 minutes to their town.

This has forced me to purchase train tickets, figure out arrival/departure times, talk to people, and maneuver around a foreign country all by myself.

I realized one day how agoraphobic I'd become when my dad made me go out.  He told me I just needed to leave the house and do something, to conquer a few fears, so I took the bus to Starbucks and went to my favorite little bookstore.  When I found out the bookstore was closed, I walked right back to the bus stop and came home.  I didn't explore or try to find somewhere else to see something new; my first instinct was to run home.

Yeah, that had to change.

My agoraphobic tendencies still often outweigh my exploratory ones.  I still think too hard about every detail of everything I do in public, and I occasionally panic when something that's routine gets twisted up and I have to change my modus operandi.  But, I've been getting better.  I find myself caring less and less.  How sweet coffee tastes when I've ordered it in French without passing the duty onto my friend.  I'll hug my buddies all the harder when I take the train and the bus to their house without any incidents or mild panic attacks.  I'll have a conversation in what I like to call "Frenglish" with the sweet girl who sat next to me on the train.

Perhaps the dulling down of my adventure-sense was a good thing.  Maybe it broke whatever could have been irrational or overly-enthusiastic in me.  Now, I must build a bit of it back up; I need to break the cycle of shyness and self-awareness in order to blend those warring spirits happily within me.

I'm learning how to talk to strangers.

Monday, September 12, 2011

So, it's been a while.

Hey, it's me.  I know.  I haven't posted since July.

Let's just pretend I've been a good blogger and move on, shall we?  I've still been posting occasionally at Dressing Room Door, so you can go check that out.

Mostly, I wanted to show you my room!  I've basically finished decorating, and I love it.  It's my favorite room in which I've lived, and it just screams Caroline.

First, my little "study nook."  I live on the top floor of our house, so I have a slanted roof on one side of my room with a big window in the middle.  To the right of my window, underneath the slant, I sat an Ikea desk.  This is where I do school and all my big thinkin'.  My mom put this desk together all by herself.  The little drawer was missing a back, and she crafted one from packaging styrofoam.  I'm proud.

Our land-lady let me pick the paint color for that one wall before we moved in, and I love it.  It matches perfectly with the sheets and quilt that I already had, and now I can just build upon the theme.  I love happy white furniture, especially when I have a big window.  It makes the space really airy and relaxing.  Assuming my room is clean.

Next we have the wall to the left of my desk.  I've got a big, big whiteboard upon which I write song lyrics that I like, things I must do, etc.  This time, it's lyrics to "Plant Life" by Owl City.  Speaking of which, I'm going to go to an Owl City concert on Friday and I'm more than a little excited.  :)  

That little lanyard on the side is one that I wore at the gathering for my online school, but I blurred out my last name from the preying eyes of internet strangers.  Sorry, creepers.

Here I have my inspiration board.  I expect it to get really full of random pinnings, but it's still a pretty new thing.  I cut the Topshop label off my shopping bag, the big piece of paper is "The Seven Ages of Man," the postcard is from the college to which I'm applying, Covenant, and the little paper nub on the left is a ticket to the London Eye.  The little cutouts are Taylor Swift and some random model from a magazine who looked to happy not to cut out and paste up there, and then there's a mask from Venice.  I can't wait to put more good things up there.

This is my cozy little bed and my horribly unattractive wardrobe (there are two standing side by side.  Military issue.  Not pretty, but I've made due).  To zoom in......

This is Beau.  My brother won him for me at Dave and Busters once, and I'm sort of obsessed with this huge hippo.  Why the name?  My thought process was:  Hippo.  Translates to Hippie.  Translates to Bohemian.  And from there, Bo.  I spell it Beau because I'm fancy.

This is a little board that I got at Ben Franklin once for about 10 dollars.  It's a bit nicked in spots, since I've had it since I lived in Hawaii, but I love it.  I cut out some Audrey Hepburn pics that were from a 2009 calendar, which, for obvious reasons, I can no longer use.  I hang my necklaces on the hooks.  (And may I just thank my father real quick for hanging all of this stuff on my wall?)  

And then I have a pretty little wicker bedside table with a stack of books underneath and a candle on the top.  I love candles, and need to find some yummy scented ones somewhere.

Moving on, we have my bookshelf/dresser  Yup, that's a flute on the bottom shelf.  And that little tree is holding my bracelets and earrings and rings.  I like having my jewelry on display because it makes me more likely to actually wear it.

And no, my room isn't sideways.  Blogger is just rude.

And finally, we have my funky little rocking chair, which just hangs out by the door that adjoins my room to the guest room.  I don't really go in there, so I don't have to worry about blocking the door.  I've also got my white wicker laundry basket from Ross next to it, and although you can't see it, I've got a full length mirror on the wall next to the guest room door. 

And you betcha I've got me a shaggy rug.

That's all for now, folks.  I want to blog more, it's just that lately, I feel as if I don't have anything important enough to say.  We'll see where this goes.  :)