A different kind of December 1st

The beginning of December usually means two things: Christmas is coming and, also, my country’s national day. It is a day of joy when people gather around in our city center to see the fireworks with their family and friends. Now, throughout the years have I never really went out on this particular day mainly because my introverted side was giving me reasons not to. Last year was actually the first time that I’ve managed to convince myself to give it a go and since I really enjoyed it I decided to go this year as well.

The night started off normally as I met up with some of my friends in our central park. We decided to first check out the Christmas market since the fireworks weren’t going to be until 8 PM. Honestly I don’t know if this was a mistake or not because even though we literally got squished in that crowd, we ironically ended up laughing so hard as we tried to find our way out from it. Amazingly enough though, most of the people had our flag in their hands while smiling and cheering. For me, that was a confirmation that there is unity, that there is love for this country. Words cannot describe what I felt especially during fireworks. It was a magical moment filled with beautiful music that made you feel like you were actually in one of the Harry Potter movies. Seeing everyone smile and be in awe of how beautiful the sky looked because of them warmed my heart. I guess it is true what they say: Beauty comes from little things. I felt truly blessed that I was able to be alongside people who were feeling the same emotions as I did.

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Before each of us went home, we stopped at a little restaurant since we were all freezing and starving. Truth be told, it is a horrible idea to search for a place where you can warm up and eat on that day. We could barely find a restaurant that had a table available. I think we knew better than to continue searching but we really wanted to spend more time together. Perseverance can be quite rewarding because after almost an hour of searching, just moments before giving up, we found that small restaurant. At that point, I didn’t even want to order anything since even the waiter said it would take a while for the food to come.

After the others ordered, one of my friends asked us if we wanted to play a game. Immediately I was intrigued by her idea. She suggested that we each answer honestly to some questions. I remember the way we looked at each other, unsure, maybe a bit scared, but also excited and ready for what was about to come. To say that we shared one of the most intimate moments in a restaurant is an understatement. The whole world shut down as five people were about to pour their hearts out and didn’t even know it. The first question:“Why would you want to fall in love and why would you not want to?” had pretty similar answers. We all believe that falling in love with someone can be the greatest thing but also the most challenging and there is always that risk that you will get hurt. We each took our turn and listened while the other person was giving their most sincere answer. The second question was: “What would you want to feel when you are in love?” Now this question got us to really think about what we actually wanted. My mind without even having time to process it all, immediately took me to a quote I once heard from The Vampire Diaries: “You want a love that consumes you. You want passion, adventure, and even a bit of danger”. As I said those words out loud, I could feel the others staring at me.  The attention they were giving me was like a door towards intimacy. It is a terrifying yet fulfilling emotion because you get to open up and be vulnerable. Each of us managed to express some things we didn’t know we wanted until they came through our mouths. I will never forget when one of my friends simply said: “I want love, yes, but I have to fix myself first, and I am not there yet”. When you think about it, how can you expect to be treated like the most special human being out there when you don’t do the same towards others.

The truth is, we all need to acknowledge that we are not perfect, that we are flawed  and we make mistakes. It is natural to want love, to want affection and safety but it is also important to work on yourself, to realise that yes, you are going to make mistakes, but as long as you want to fix yourself, everything is going to turn out just as it is supposed to be. We often tend to forget that we are enough on our own, that self love needs to come from within. And with this I want to say that yes, I want to love and be loved in return but at the same time I know I need to be a better person before actually having that chance. Love can be a subject some people would want to avoid talking about, which is precisely why I think we ended up discussing it. Not everyone can allow themselves to be vulnerable around others but they know, all of us know that love is the greatest thing we do.

 

XX

Exploring Transylvania: Sibiu

There was always something about travelling that intrigued me. Every time I would go to a new place, especially somewhere with so much history I would imagine people from different times walking on the streets that now I am walking on. It is a feeling that I can’t quite explain. If I said nostalgia it wouldn’t really cover the whole picture.

I have been blessed enough to be born in the magical land of Transylvania, which I suppose many of you have heard of. I like to call it the heart of Romania and, of course, my home. It is a place of wonder, where you can find everything from hills to forests to mountains to rivers to breathtaking views. To be honest, when I was little I never really appreciated that I was born here. For me it was just a simple country with ordinary lands. As I got older I got to explore more and more of this incredible part of my country and I fell in love. Everywhere I go is like a portal which is hiding numerous stories, myths and legends. You could even say that Transylvania is our own real life version of a fairy tale. I know that some of you may not agree with me but trust me when I say this, only when you visit this place you’ll fully understand.

Last Friday I went on a short trip with my best friend and a couple of our old classmates from high school. We visited, or should I say revisited one of the most beautiful cities Transylvania has to offer, which is Sibiu. On our way we first stopped at some ruins of a castle which even now gives you a taste of the past. I couldn’t help but imagine how people used to live at that time. This is something I do every time I visit a place like this. I put myself into the shoes of people who lived in that ancient place and create a short story in my mind of how it might have been if I was alive then. It’s a nostalgic and euphoric feeling.

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When we finally arrived in Sibiu, oh boy, I cannot tell you how happy I was. Even with the gloomy weather, inside I was like a kid in a candy shop. It’s probably been my 4th time visiting Sibiu and every time I go it seems like the city gets even more beautiful than it already was. Unfortunately, because of the semi bad weather I didn’t get a chance to take as many pictures of this incredible city as I wanted but I guess there’s always next time :D. We had about 5 hours to explore while praying to God that rain won’t ruin our trip completely. While I was walking on the paved streets, surrounded by old and beautiful buildings, I felt like I was in another century. In spite of having my phone and camera with me at all times, the way which this city made me feel erased traces of the technology for a few minutes. I was no longer living in 21th century, but somewhere far in the past which only my own mind could comprehend.

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Because of these enchanting places I am proud to call Transylvania my home. A land where my roots originate from, a land which can be perceived as a portal to a different time. Let me tell you, the stories you hear about Transylvania are just a small glance. The truth is unveiled when you actually see what it truly has to offer.

XX

Alive

We all have those days when you’re just struggling. Life is a roller coaster and while I’m just at the beginning of it, I too have bad days. Yet, between all that chaos there’s always something bright. No one can really hate all their bad experiences mainly because they happen for a reason, they guide you towards this foggy road called life. The more I am maturing the more I see that the world around us is of unimaginable beauty. There is always light at the end of the tunnel they say, and I almost agree. What we fail to realise is that between those dark days, right in the middle, there is a small glittering light desperate to get your attention. It can posses any form but most importantly, it’s always small things. And so, I’ve decided to share some moments when I’ve felt most alive in for of short stories. For me it’s a reminder of how amazing and unique life is.

I have this tradition with some of my friends to go on the rooftop of our local mall, mostly after it gets dark, to relax. We even put some music we used to listen to when we were little sometimes to get the nostalgia going. It’s an intimate moment when we are most vulnerable. I cannot say exactly what it is about that place that makes it special, but for us it is. It’s a place of no limits, no boundaries, a different world which separates us from the city covered in lights. The more we went there, the more we felt safe and confident so naturally those emotions awake a slightly wild side. I know what you’re thinking: introverts have a wild side? Well I am here to answer that dilema by saying that yes, we have it but it’s a different version. With that in mind, imagine 5 people screaming from the top of their lungs: “BLOODY HELL” in a failed British accent. It may not seem like much, but for me it’s everything because while I am screaming that, I also get the problems out of me.

This past summer I went to stay at one of my friends from College for a few days. She was so sweet and each day tried so hard to find interesting activities for us to do. What she didn’t know was that I was extremely happy just to be there. She doesn’t live in the city so she is surrounded by forests and mountains. At that time I really needed an escape to fix myself and the fact that I was even able to go there meant more than she’ll ever know. Her dad too was extremely nice and offered to show us around, or to put it into his words, to give us a taste of their home. We hopped on the back of his truck and held on tight as he drove us through their forest and hills. I have never in my entire life experienced that kind of freedom. It was like a drug. I couldn’t stop laughing and at one point my eyes started to form tears of joy. The wind was blowing through my hair and the fresh air of summer made me feel like I was in a fairy tale, like I was living my grandparents’ childhood. Being a full fledged city girl, of course I’ve never quite experienced the countryside life so all of this was new to me. For the first time in my life I truly felt what it means to be free.

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My best friend has a dog and she frequently asks me to join her when she walks him. We have a little area in our neighborhood where people walk their dogs. Even though it’s in the city, the little river near this place gives our neighborhood a taste of nature and piece. You can never fully grasp how a walk can calm you. It’s also a way for us to spend time together since we go to different schools now. She probably has no idea how much these walks mean to me. We can sit down on a bench and just chat about various things while watching dogs play. Being able to do this almost every week has kept me sane during school year. I can shed my problems, laugh and even play with the dogs. I cannot even put into words how happy I am every time we chase after him when he goes too far or when we bring some snacks with us or when we listen to the wind. In fact, the other day my best friend was telling me how much her dog helps and supports her. Right then and there I realised that yes, he helps her, but they also help me too.

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Every night I have dinner with my dad and my twin brother while my mom watches us. It’s become a habit for us, mainly because we don’t get to eat that often as a family. Dad started this since we were in middle school. He knew that we didn’t get to spend time together during the day because he and mom went to work while me and my brother went to school. Mom joined in too and so began our nightly meals together. They would always ask us about our day and vice versa, we would laugh as my mom and dad tease each other. I don’t think I ever understood how important this was and still is until recently. Every day I realise how blessed I am to have the most incredible parents out there who have done everything to give me and my brother the best life.  I now cherish these dinners as they are the most magical moments. It is truly amazing when we all laugh at my brother’s silly jokes or when my dad makes a narcissistic comment. I honestly believe that these dinners make us closer as a family and I wouldn’t change it for the world.

XX

“The quirky things that make you different are what make you beautiful”

When I was little, I used to think that celebrities were the embodiment of perfection. Every time I would see them on TV or read about them I would express in my mind my desire to be just like them.

As I got older, I started to see the bubble that was shielding them from reality.  What we sometimes don’t realise is that we are all human. We all make mistakes, we struggle, some more than others. I wish that I knew this back when I was 16. I was so insecure and shy. I lacked self confidence to the point where I would think that I was worthless. In short, I wasn’t capable of loving myself. I used to envy everyone around me and saw beauty in each human whom I’ve crossed paths with but myself ( still do sometimes ).  I would look at different celebrities and think Oh, I wish I was just like her/him, they’ve got it all figured out. If only I knew then how wrong I was. By the time I graduated I thought that I knew who I was, that I was ready for the real world. But let me tell you something that I would have liked to know back then, you’re never ready. I was just a 19 year old who was stepping into the real world and didn’t fully grasp the full meaning of that aspect. College life proved to be a difficult yet exciting change and for the past year I’ve grown so much as a young woman. I guess it’s true what they say that everything happens for a reason. The experiences that I’ve gone through so far have shaped my mind and soul so much that I no longer saw celebrities as inhuman. Of course they had fame and money but that didn’t mean that they were by any means happier than us. The more my blindness started to vanish the more I saw how vulnerable they truly are.


I’ve been a huge fan of Lily Collins ever since I saw Mortal Instruments: City of Bones in 2013. Once I heard that she was writing a book, more specifically a memoir, something told me that I had to have it.  I knew that I wouldn’t be able to get it when it was released as I am living in Romania, so I had to wait a little for Unfiltered to be released here as well. My life got so busy due to my exams that didn’t have the time to even think about buying the book. As fate would have it, I would get my hands on it when I needed the most. Two weeks ago my instincts told me that I shouldn’t delay it any longer and sure enough, three days later I had Unfiltered in my possession. Even though I was really excited I can honestly say that I didn’t know what to expect. Was it going to help me? Was it going to empower me? I will never forget the moment I turned my first page and read The quirky things that make you different are what make you beautiful. 

From that moment I was hooked. For the first time we were given the opportunity to see that a celebrity is nowhere near perfect but that imperfection holds an unimaginable beauty. Reading about how Lily struggled with anorexia as a teenager made me understand those who suffer from this more. I was almost in tears when she explained her fear of never being able to have children, a fear that I also have because of my small ovarian cysts. I have come to admire her more ( if that was even possible ) for her courage to share her life without any filters. Through her words, she encouraged me to love myself even if it will be hard at times, that I am enough on my own  and I don’t need anyone to complete me, that I can be silly because that’s our best part. I found myself relating to her more than I could have ever imagined.


As I mentioned before, I’ve had a hard time loving and accepting myself. I never saw myself as beautiful until I was 18 and still then it was just a small progress towards confidence. Yet everyday I tried to look at myself in the mirror and repeat that I am beautiful over and over again. I knew I had a long way to go but I kept trying not for anyone but myself. I had to understand that not everyone is going to like me, so I needed to accept myself as I am because there is only one of me. When I read her first chapter about her insecurities due to her eyebrows and that she learned to love what makes her unique thanks to her mother’s advice, something in me changed. It’s only been a week and a half since I read it but I can honestly say that I’ve never loved myself more. Of course my confidence still needs some work but I realised that if I don’t love myself then why expect others to. I also felt self conscious about my hair when I was younger. It used to be very bushy, and because of that I referred to it as “Hermione style”. I hated the fact that it looked so burned and I preferred it to be flat rather than full of volume. With time though I started to take care of it better and today I adore my hair, it’s become one of my best features and I always get compliments on it.



I was on the train, trying to get away from the city life when I reached a chapter where she talked about how she looked too young for her age. Believe it or not, looking younger than you are can be both a blessing and a curse. Everyone around me told me that I should appreciate it and believe me, I do, but sometimes it can be a bit annoying because people tend to treat you like a child. Reading about how Lily struggled during her auditions because she looked too young made me feel so relieved that someone finally understood.


 Also, like Lily, I like to surprise people too. I love the look on their faces when they find out that I’m 20 instead of 15-16 and that my personality is way different than what they’ve had in mind at first glance. I am also not a fan of drinking to have fun and sometimes I am too compassionate. I loved how she talked about tattoos, how a story could be told just by a simple tattoo. What impressed me the most though was the story of her abusive relationship. When you’re in that kind of situation, it’s hard to leave that person because you love them and in your mind you feel like you have a responsibility to help them. It must have taken a lot to speak up and accept that you deserve better. When someone shows you who they truly are, believe them. I will never forget this.

I urge everyone to get Unfiltered not only because you’re a fan of Lily Collins but also because there’s not a person in this world who cannot relate to her book. It has now become one of my favourite books that I will most likely re-read when I am feeling down about myself. The truth is, we are constantly evolving. No one has life figured out yet and even though sometimes things might be hard remember that things are going to get better and you are strong enough. We need to accept the things that make us unique! 


            Love Always and Forever”

                                               -Lily Collins