My Greece adventure (2018)

I believe that traveling has always been both a passion and a desire within my heart. It probably surfaced when I went on a family trip back in 2014. I was blessed enough to be able to see three astonishing, incredible and marvelous capitals of Europe: Budapest, Vienna and Prague. It is quite indescribable, the feeling of walking those streets, which have centuries of history and beauty. For the first time, I genuinely saw the importance of traveling, and, most of all, the privilege of learning the vast culture and background of these countries. I couldn’t thank my parents enough for working so hard to give me and my brother a chance to see a part of Europe that not everyone has the means to explore.

For the next few years, because my teenage self wanted bit of independence, I decided to stay home while my parents went on trips. It was a decision that, though kept me from seeing more of this beautiful continent, I do not regret. My theory in life is that you should NEVER regret anything. It’s not that I was ungrateful, because I really was, but I wanted so desperately to have a bit of independence.

But moving on from that, at the beginning of this year, as I sat one night buried deep into my world of thoughts (a ritual formed throughout the last couple of years), I pulled out my notebook I got as a gift the previous year. For a couple of minutes I looked at it, the inscription printed on it shining from the moonlight. It said “enjoy the little things”. It was a concept, which I admit with shame, that I sometimes take for granted to this day. I decided right then and there to write some goals I wanted to achieve this year. And one of them was traveling.

My parents really wanted to see Greece again, and they frequently asked my brother and I to join them on this particular trip. Now, one thing you need to know about me is that I am not a seaside kind of girl. I never enjoyed going to the beach as much as sightseeing/ exploring new places. Still, I decided to go because I didn’t want to pass another opportunity that some may not have, and also because I wanted to spend some quality time with my family. My dad knew how much I loved visiting places, so when he booked this trip, he made sure we would get to see to explore some bits of this beautiful country as well.

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First stop was in the enchanting island, Lefkada, which is situated quite close to the continent, and has Italian influences. This was my third time in Greece, and I have to say that no matter how many times I go, I am always captivated by the culture, the kindness of the people, and the sights. We got to visit the capital of the island, Lefkas, which had probably one of the the most beautiful Greek architecture I have ever seen. The streets screamed authenticity, beauty, culture and history. I had to stop for a moment, take in everything I was blessed enough to see. Dad and I probably took pictures of every little thing/detail we saw. That’s how fascinated we were. No matter how many times we visit Greece, it never fails to captivate our minds and souls.

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If I was enchanted by the first stop, the second one was far more superior in my eyes. It is the kind of sight not a lot of people  have the chance to see every day. It is a holy place, which, in my mom’s own words, is undoubtedly ethereal. Maybe that’s why it took me a month to write this, because no matter how hard I try, I cannot do Meteora justice with my words. We got to visit 5 incredible churches while we were there as well, and see where monks used to live. I cannot express enough the peace I felt while I was watching this view, this gift from nature, trying to memorize every inch and every detail.  I really hope that these pictures will suffice my lack of words, because I find myself speechless even in writing. Lefkada and Meteora will forever have a piece of my heart.

Until the next adventure X oiu

21 Things I’ve learned in 21 Years

After 21 years on this Earth ( wow, it is so weird to say that ) it is safe to say that I’ve learned some things. From laughter and joy, to failures and heartbreaks, everything that I’ve gone through has made me the person that I am today. I wanted to share with you some lessons that have made me wiser, stronger and more mature.

1. IT IS OKAY TO BE UNIQUE

Growing up, I was very quiet and shy. I preferred to be “behind the scenes” rather than being a “star”. So as you can imagine, I’ve had a hard time fitting in. Somehow, that didn’t bother me as much. I loved to hide behind my drawings and cartoons. It was a world where I felt safe, where I had the power to create my own destiny. I was that kid who watched as many cartoons as she could get her hands on and was pretty much obsessed with anime. I kept that part of me hidden though. People already thought I was childish so why would I give them another reason to do so? With time, I realised that it wasn’t a shame to be childish, nor it was a shame to like something different. Why would I want to blend with the others, to change just to be like them instead of fully accepting myself as I am? I don’t have to pretend to be someone I’m not just so that other people would like me. I don’t have to blend in. I am fine just the way I am, and God I’ve never loved myself more than I do now.

2. IT IS OKAY TO FAIL

For the past two years I’ve had my fair share of failures. If anything, they made me stronger. For the longest time I was trapped in a bubble where everything was rainbows and sunshine. It was like an alternate universe, meant to protect my innocence. I am no longer who I was in high school, nor who I was even 6 months ago. Failure brings pain but also wisdom. Each time you fail, you get up stronger. Don’t resent failure no matter how hard it hits you. Without it, you wouldn’t grow intellectually and as an individual.

3. LISTEN TO YOUR PARENTS

They without a doubt know more than you do. My mom and dad are everything to me. Ever since I was little, they made sure I had everything I needed even when they had little money. They raised me to be humble, to appreciate everything I have and to be kind. They are always there to give me advice, to teach me the differences between right and wrong. Their wisdom, strength, unconditional love and guidance are essential. Without them I would be lost.

4. SOMETIMES YOU’RE GONNA MAKE MISTAKES

Not even your family and friends can help you avoid this one forever. No one has escaped from mistakes. If anything… provided you let them, they can make you a better person. As much as it hurts, it’s important for your self growth. It took me a while to see this, but there’s always light at the end of the tunnel, even when you ceased to hope for it.

5. EVERYTHING HAPPENS FOR A REASON 

There is no coincidence. Every mistake, every failure, every friendship, every relationship happens for a reason without a doubt. I have learned that everything that I do or choose has a meaning.

6. YOU ARE BLESSED

I am ashamed to say that it took me some time to see this. In fact, it took something for me to not be blinded anymore. My failures in college came with their ups and downs. They’ve changed me in more ways than one. For the first time, I started to fully appreciate how blessed and loved I am. It’s funny how moments like this actually open your eyes to what is right in front of you. Yes, it made me be grateful for everything that I have, yes, I AM BLESSED beyond belief and I was too stupid to see it.

7. TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF FOR A CHANGE

I have the tendency to neglect myself. I know it’s not okay but sometimes I cannot help it. I have to remind myself to try and take it slow for once. This is based a lot on self confidence and also on self discovery. Think about it. There must be some moments when you just feel emotionally drained, when you want to scream or never get out of the room. Well that is when your mind tells you to take a deep breath and do something that you love, something that helps you heal and escape from your problems for a bit.

8. PEOPLE CAN GIVE YOU THEIR WORST

No matter what, there are some people you meet who just aren’t going to treat you well. We all have our demons, and sometimes we deal with them by unleashing their force on others. This is not an excuse, I know, but I try to be nice to them anyway. At the end of the day, treating someone as badly as they treat you is nothing more than revenge. It’s neither fulfilling or necessarily.

9. IT IS OKAY TO FEEL LOST

No one really knows what they want right away. If I really think about it, most of my friends don’t have an idea of what they want to be, and that is okay. To tell you the truth, there were moments when I felt so lost (still am some days) because it seemed that I was walking towards an endless unknown path. But then I realised, it is supposed to be that way. Not even my parents or grandparents knew what the hell they were going to do with their lives when they were my age. They figured it out along the way. I guess we all have to do the same.

10. LOVE YOURSELF

THIS IS A MUST! I cannot tell you how much my life has changed ever since I started to accept myself, to be more confident. Though I am nowhere near achieving my goal completely, I am slowly getting there. I now know how important it is to love yourself. If you don’t, not only it is damaging for your heart and soul, but also for the people around you. If you don’t love yourself, why would you expect others to do so?.

11. NEVER STOP LEARNING

Nope, I am not just talking about academic intelligence. You could be the smartest kid in school but not in life. So when I say never stop learning, I actually mean to take everything that life has to offer and turn it into a lesson. Life knowledge is just as important as academic knowledge.

12. HAVE FAITH

In my darkest of times, when I was in such a low place that I thought I was worthless, that’s when faith saved me. One night, when I was on the verge of having a breakdown, I decided to listen to some music since it always calmed me down. I opened up my Apple music and unknowingly searched for the song that would change everything for me. I somehow got to Rachel Platten’s new album, which I am not kidding, wasn’t even released half an hour earlier when I last checked. I was quite surprised, as you can imagine. As I was scrolling down, my eyes landed on the song GRACE. I don’t know why but I was really drawn to it. I pressed play and I started to be overwhelmed by this incredible sense of understanding. I had goosebumps and I was shaking. Never, in my entire life, has ever been a song to define my whole being like that until that moment. The answer that I’ve been waiting for such a long time finally revealed itself. That song brought me peace and comfort. Because of it, I’ve regained my faith in God, and also, faith in myself.

13. THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE WILL CHANGE YOU

I always trust my gut when it comes to choosing the perfect people for me. Let me tell you, I was never wrong. Every person that I’ve allowed to be in my life has changed me for the better. With their strength, wisdom, kindness and confidence, they’ve all played an important part into my life. They’ve inspired me to be better, to cherish every moment that I’ve been given, to be happy and to believe that I am capable of amazing things. I can never thank them enough for what they did and still do for me.

14. JEALOUSY HAS ITS UPS AND DOWNS

Believe it or not, jealousy can actually be a blessing in disguise. In the past year, I’ve had moments when I hated myself because I was jealous of the success of others. I thought: Why not me? Why am I not doing anything as amazing as that? It consumed me to a point when I started to become someone I couldn’t recognize. It was one of my lowest points. I felt useless, untalented and a failure. I had this mindset until I realised that I can actually use this as a motivation to fulfill my dreams rather than be jealous of something that I don’t wholeheartedly want. This is how this blog revived. This is how I started drawing again. This is how I started to practice my singing again.

15. TREAT PEOPLE HOW YOU WISH TO BE TREATED

I keep this with me everyday, especially now with how dark the world is. I never stopped hoping, believing that WE will be better. I think if I did, I would lose myself completely into this darkness. This is why I set a goal upon myself: to try each day to be kinder and to help people when they need it. I remember one time in my volunteering years when I participated in my all time favourite activity: “free hugs”. I was humbled and extremely touched at how many people were so open to it. Some even said they needed that hug more than ever. People are often evil and selfish, but there is also kindness, happiness and joy within them. I will never cease to stop believing, because there are people out there that are worthy of every drop of kindness you can offer. You never know when you can change someone’s life by just giving a small compliment, or a smile, or a hug.

16. YOU DEFINITELY ARE YOUR HARSHEST CRITIC

Whenever I do something, I want it to be perfect.  When something doesn’t turn out the way I envisioned, I feel incompetent. It doesn’t do wonders to my self esteem either. The main issue here is that I am too hard on myself. I see that fact, but its still difficult for me to not be. I have to get used to the idea that I am and always will be my harshest critic.

17. PEOPLE ARE SELFISH

I would be the first to say that I’ve had moments when I thought of only myself. I don’t have an excuse for this, but I am trying to manage it. I am aware of my flaws, I am not perfect, but every day I try to turn them into little helpers… helpers who make me want to be better. Humanity is selfish, and I am no exception.

18. IT’S ALL ABOUT THE LITTLE THINGS

I’ve found that I am happiest when little things happen. Last summer I posted on twitter a picture with me holding Lily Collins’ book and went to bed. The next morning I woke up with my phone filled with messages. In the back of my mind I kind of knew why but I still thought Nah, there’s no way… I opened up my twitter, and there it was. Lily Collins saw my picture. My heart was full of joy and I felt pure happiness. Having one of my role models respond to my post meant everything to me. It’s not about the grand gestures, but about little things.

19. NO REGRETS

Your life is how it’s supposed to be. Even with it’s ups and downs, I’ve learned to never take it for granted and certainly not regret anything that I’ve gone through. And you shouldn’t either. Love your life because it’s priceless and irreplaceable.

20. STOP TRYING TO BE PERFECT

The truth is, I am not perfect. No one is. I have to stop trying to be flawless. I would be inhuman if I didn’t have my fair share of flaws. Instead of resenting them, I am trying (as I already mentioned) to analyse them and to learn from them in order to become the best version I can possibly be. We all have the potential to be great, but never to be perfect.

21. NOTHING COMES EASY

Oh boy, where do I even start. I mentioned already that I am childish. Well, this doesn’t come with disadvantages. When I had secured myself with a place in college, I felt free and capable of doing anything. I was so naive to think that from then on everything that I ever desired to have will fall down from the skies. Now I know that it’s actually the opposite. No one became successful without working hard.

X

Stronger than ever

“It doesn’t matter how many times you get knocked down. All that matters is you get up one more time than you were knocked down.” 
― Roy T. Bennett

Happy International Women’s day to all of you strong, brave, kind and powerful women. Since today is all about empowerment, I thought I’d share with you what I’ve been through for the past two months. I hope my little story will encourage each of you beautiful souls to access your inner strength even during hopeless times. So sit back and enjoy because I have quite a lot to talk about.

Let me start with the beginning. On January 19 I started my exam period. I knew it was going to be hard, or at least, I thought I did. Having as many exams as I did can overwhelm you because breaks seem to not even be considered (though they are essential) and you’re constantly extremely stressed and worried. This is normal though, any student goes through this; so why is my experience any different? Well, to tell you the truth, I’ve had a hard time ever since I started college. For some reason, any subject that was taught during my freshman year came as a shocking storm over me. I couldn’t really accustom to the new teaching method and to the extremely overwhelming pile of information that I had to learn in such a short amount of time. This lead me to fail miserably during my finals, and it’s pretty safe to say that it destroyed me for a while. I lost sight of my values and my strength. Though it took some time, I was eventually able to slowly get back on my own feet and try to seek hope again. Then, my second year of college began, and for a while, I was confident enough to believe that I will survive what was about to come. I decided that I would shut everything negative inside a small box in my mind. Oh boy, that was one of the biggest mistakes I’ve ever made. To the outside world, I seemed fine, but on the inside I was still broken and marked by my previous failures. I got it into my head that past was past, it was too late to deal with those feelings; and I should go on without worrying others.

As a new exam period was approaching, I started to panic. Everything I’ve held inside of me suddenly seemed to break free from my chain and there was nothing I could do to control it. Fear, sadness, uncertainty were nothing short of what I was feeling. The morning of my first exam I was so panicked that I started to cry. I just didn’t want to disappoint myself of anyone else again. This is when I have to stop and tell you: DO NOT EVER SHUT YOUR EMOTIONS! You’re going to end up just like me, terrified and uncertain. Again, I was facing the same thing from last year, a situation I so desperately wanted to avoid. I remember the day I found out I failed an exam for the third time. My mind shut down completely and I called my mom in tears, desperately saying: I don’t think I can do this! I found myself in a black whole, drowning…

It is difficult, as you can imagine, to describe something which almost broke you apart for the second time, but at the same time taught you so much. It is easy to succumb to your feelings, to let them take control of your whole being, and honestly, if I would’ve taken just one more step, it would’ve probably happen. Failure is not painless or manageable or effortless, but hard to understand, extremely challenging and emotionally draining. If it weren’t for my mom, who is the strongest woman I know, my dad, my brother, my friends and my grandparents, I think I would’ve probably given up on college. They were the ones who told me: Keep going, you can do this. You are capable of amazing things. I realised right then and there how blessed I was to have this incredible support system. I also learned that hard work can lead to extraordinary achievements. So yes, I almost gave up, yes, failure is damn hard, but I’ve come to see that each time you fall, you get up stronger than ever.

I want you to know that just because I’ve won a fight doesn’t mean I won’t fail again pr that I won’t lose myself in the process. Nothing in this life comes easy. This experience has taught me to work hard, to keep going even when all hope is lost and to have faith that no matter what, things will get better. So for those of you who feel alone, or lost, I hope this will show you that everyone has to go through highs and lows. Do not doubt yourself, be brave and keep going. You’ve got this!

X

What I’ve learned in 2017

Every year means change, and with change come valuable lessons. I never really understood the true purpose of growing up, of maturing and becoming independent, just like my parents did before me and my grandparents before them. The process is at first slow, or at least our young minds perceive it as such. Then high school comes and just for a second you believe you know exactly what you want, that you know who you are and what life has to offer. This though, cannot be further from the truth. Eventually University knocks at your door, a new chapter which is unlike anything you’ve ever experienced before. At first, you enjoy the liberties to a point when it becomes almost like a drug. This independence has never been as strong and persistent until now. This freedom is a blessing and a curse. While it can be fulfilling, it can also be blinding. Somewhere along the line, life wakes you up in the middle of an enormous mess.

2017 has been a year of revelations, a year which impacted me in more ways than one. A new piece has been placed in the puzzle of life, and along with it, my perception of myself and what’s around me also changed. I want to start by saying that all my life I had this view that I had to be perfect. I would watch various Disney movies and believe that I was worthy of having what those princesses had. Though it’s an unrealistic thinking, I must admit that I am a dreamer and I tend to overthink some aspects. I carried this with me for a long time and I forgot to actually live in the present. I treated everything in a childish manner and this made me become someone I wasn’t. And so, I’ve learned that yes, you can have dreams, but you cannot wait for God or anyone to make them come true. I’ve learned that it is impossible to control everything you’re feeling. It is completely normal to feel anxious or depressed from time to time. You feel, you care, you love. You are not a robot. I’ve learned that you should not take anything you have for granted. You are so lucky and blessed to have people in your life that truly care about you and love you with all their heart. It is easy to forget what is really important and also equally easy to complain about everything that is going wrong in your life. You forget that others may have it much worse than you but they know how to hide their sorrow better than you. I’ve learned that you can dream like a kid, but you can’t always act like one. This is not a game anymore. It is time grow up, to start your true journey and there are going to be some obstacles in your way which you never even thought of. Although at times they can get the best of you, remember that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel and a lesson to be learned. Also, you are HUMAN. You are bound to make mistakes. If you ever thought you can be perfect, nope, you can’t. Everyone makes mistakes, but you cannot use them as excuses. It may hurt when the ugly truth is unveiled, but be GRATEFUL because though it may seem strange, it lifts a weight of your shoulders. Things will start to make sense and it is up to you if you want to learn from those mistakes, move on and try to be a better person. I’ve learned that God can help you even in the darkest of times, even when you’ve lost all your faith. And finally, I’ve learned that YOU CANNOT COMPARE YOURSELF TO OTHERS. Everyone has their own unique path. The things which others want may not necessarily be what you want. Jealousy is a tricky emotion and can change you into someone you do not recognize. This past year I’ve learned more about jealousy than ever. It can consume you so much that you start treating the people around you in a way they don’t deserve. You may push them away, hurt them without realising the damage you’re making. Always remember what is most important to you. Do not be jealous of other people’s success. Instead, encourage them, be happy for them because you would want the same thing too.

I now close this chapter of my life with the idea that everything I have gone through thus far has made me want to become better. By regaining my faith, I have come to see that imperfection has its own beauty because it challenges you to be a better person. From now on, I am going to remind myself how blessed and loved I am and that dreams can come true if you believe and work hard for them. Each lesson makes you wiser and more aware of the world you live in.

To conclude this awfully long post, here’s to a new year and a new beginning. May all your dreams come true and may you fight each challenge that will come towards you with the fire I know each and every one of you has!

‘Cause every night I lie in bed

The brightest colors fill my head

A million dreams are keeping me awake

I think of what the world could be

A vision of the one I see

A million dreams is all it’s gonna take

A million dreams for the world we’re gonna make’

– A million dreams (The greatest showman)

Xx