Today, it has been exactly one year since I moved to Madrid. When I say it aloud, I still can’t quite fathom that I live in Spain. Madrid sounds normal, city-life like, unimpressive at times. But Spain, that sounds oh-so-exotic and almost compelling.
So yes, exactly one year ago I arrived in the tepid heat, lulling around large suitcases and sweating on the metro trying to grasp some form of bearings and praying that my ultimate metro stop would have an elevator so I could avoid another painful haul up reams of stairs. It didn’t.
We got to the Air Bnb, it was quaint and comfortable, yet I was minorly deterred by the fact that rather than sharing with the host, we would be accompanied by two other guests – in seperate rooms of course – so it had more of a hostel vibe, with people coming and going, rather than classic B’nB, something I’ve realised that a lot of other Air Bnbs do, without stating.
It’s quite apt, that as I write this, exactly one year on, I do so from an Air Bnb, which also has other guests coming and going. This mirroring, makes it feel like nothing has changed, that on the surface I started in an Air Bnb, and here I am in the exact same situation one year on.
Although my physical surroundings coincide with one year ago, my mentality cetainly does not.
I am not the same dough-eyed girl (I’ve always wanted to self-describe as this), minorly panic striken by a daunting metro system, busy streets and high-rise buildings, awkwardly laughing at the notion that hello and I don’t speak spanish was the extent to my spanish vocab in a city where people seemed to speed up, when I explained I didn’t speak the local tongue. Terrified to make myself known, to speak for fear of being ousted.
Sure, my Spanish isn’t a great note to demonstate my personal development; I still pride myself on what I have learned – that being a few questions, speaking solely in the present tense and holding a conversation with a lot of hand gestures at my disposal.
What have I learned in one year? Well I’ve learned that my naive, independent, leave-everyone-and-start-from-scratch-attitude isn’t quite practical.
That community, and a social network are vital, and as independent as I like to claim myself, people are good and people are necessary.
I’ve also learned that studio apartments are not all their cracked up to be, especially with two people, and that I’d rather have flat-mates than cram a whole flat into a room.
I’ve learned that making friends can be bloody challenging. It can’t be all deep, private revelations and comfortable silences instantly, that takes time and the time to build a friendship can be exhausting, but it is fun, it’s just not as straightforward as it is with old friends.
I’ve learned that not everybody wants to be your friend, and I don’t want to be just anybodies friend. I’ve got standards, after all.
I’ve learned that exercise is bloody important. I’m still shocked that I’ve gone through a majority of my life claiming to ‘not like’ exercise, and accepting that thats just how things are. Nobody likes exercise, not at first anyway, but it’s undoubtedly one of those annoying things that feels pointless, but over time, it adds up to have a complete effect, a seriously positive one, for the mind. And also, everyone has an exercise that they will like – whether thats cycling, running, the gym or yoga – you just have to find what fits you.
I’ve learned that I love cooking. Okay, I’ve always loved cooking, but this is the first time I’ve been put to the test, the first time that I’ve actually cooked for nearly every meal, most days, and the first time I’ve really had to factor in the cost of ingredients, and include that in an overall budget. And, I know now, that I am quite the creative in the kitchen.
I’ve learned that age doesn’t matter. I don’t have to compare myself to others, checking what age they had their big break at, or counting down the days until it’s too late. Everyone is working on a different timeline and frankly, comparison is as big a time-drainer as social media.
I’ve also learned where my money goes. As in, I know now how to save and how to spend, and not just watch my money disappear before my eyes, something that’s been the case for most of my adult life.
I’ve learned that I love writing, and that I’m good at it too; that reading is important and even when I feel tired, or stressed, a good book can be just the remedy.
I’ve finally learned that buying clothes will only make me happy temporarily, and even though retail therapy used to be a quick fix, it now just results in a lot of money-anxiety guilt, and it’s not always worth it.
But most importantly, I’ve learned that no one else knows what they’re doing either, even the real adults. You’re probably not supposed to know what to do, because where’s the fun in that? Everything in life is trial and error, and it is just fine to have no idea what to do on any given day, to go out and have fun or stay in and watch TV in bed, aslong as you’re happy. It’s okay to fail, because after all, trying is the real winning.
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