Souvenir Lessons – Being Myself in France

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I’ve been obsessed with France since I was a small child.

I went through a multiple year period where I wore a little purple felt beret with every outfit. My childhood dreams consisted of designing dresses in France while eating chocolate croissants for every meal. I spent a part of adulthood dreaming of becoming a translator, eventually minoring in French in college.

But life switches directions, things happen, etc etc growing up blah blah blah.

My time in France the past few days has been far different than I expected, especially since we stuck to the coast and explored smaller cities. But the lesson I’ll be bringing home from France is the importance of being true to myself.
Although I’ve been working on learning French on and off for over 20 years, I was afraid to speak it. What if the French people laugh at me? What if I say something wrong? I didn’t want to tell anyone I spoke French, cause what if I don’t understand it all?

But I realized… who fucking cares? I love French. I think in French. The accent makes my heart flutter. So I fucking spoke it. I totally got laughed at. But I was also understood. I even chatted my way in French into free dinner. 

The next day we toured the Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild. The woman who owned it, Beatrice, was a fabulous, dramatic, divorced, hilarious, world traveling, gambling, educated feminist in the 1900s who lived her life exactly as she damned pleased. She was ahead of her time and completely smashed the norms for women then, but it didn’t matter cause she was living it up exactly how she wanted.

I’ve spent a lot of my life trying to be what other people wanted me to be. I’ve always conformed to their boxes, too afraid to break free of my own. But there’s no room for flowers to grow if you keep cutting off the sunlight and air.

So I’ve been trying to do what I love, avoiding what I don’t, and unabashedly being myself. Do some people dislike it? Yes. But who fucking cares? I don’t want to spend my time with them anyway. And I’m finding more people than I ever could have expected like me just the way I am.

Merci beaucoup, dearest France. That little eight year old in her beret would be awfully proud.

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