I will fake it until I make it!

All about the escapades and thoughts of a girl who thinks WAY too much for her own good!

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

I’m Not Special

When I announced to my friends that I was moving to Italy they pretty much thought I was a rock star. For several months I received comments like, “That is so cool!” or “You’re my idol,” or “Oh my god, I would never have the guts to do that!”

Friends and acquaintances went out of their way to provide me with opportunities or advice to make my dream come true.

All of the excitement was a bit surprising at first, but I loved that people were interested, and I loved the positive attention. I started thinking, “Wow, maybe this is a big deal,” and I started to feel a little special, like perhaps I wasn’t like everyone else.

After a brief stint in Rome I moved to Florence in December of 2009. A week after moving to Florence my roommate took me to a holiday party hosted by a group called YAWN, short for Young Anglo Women’s Network. YAWN is made of up mostly native English speaking women living in Florence.

What was supposed to be a casual holiday party turned out to be a defining moment for me because I met several women at this party who changed the course of my time in Italy, and possibly, as time may reveal the course of my life.

These women had similar stories to mine. They too longed for something different. They too sold or gave away everything they owned to move here. They too left family and friends for something unknown. These women understood the benefits and sacrifices involved in living in a country that was not their own.

Being surrounded by women with similar experiences was such a comfort to me. I was relieved to meet new people and make new friends. But after hearing the same answer to the question, “So what’s your story? Why are you in Florence?” over and over again, I realized I was a dime a dozen here. Everyone had done what I had done. I was not special at all.

At first this realization took the wind out of my sails. But now, as I reflect on my 10 months here I realize, no, I’m not special, but “we” all are. We, the ex-patriot women living in Florence who left all that we knew to experience something different; we who believed in ourselves enough to take a leap into the unknown; we who made the most of our lives here no matter how short or how long a stay. “We” are special.

For some of us Italy was our destiny; for others a break from our lives; for others a chance for love; and for others still a launching ground for the next big adventure. Yes, we may have similar stories, but these similarities in no way diminish the challenges we have overcome. They in no way diminish our bravery, our tenacity, and our strength. We took action. We did it, and absolutely yes, we are all special.


  1. I agree. You are special. I am so happy for you and all of the experiences you had Val. Looking forward to seeing you here in the boring old states. Italy's loss is our gain.

    I have contact sentimental sad-itis.

    Love ya,

  2. c.r.y.i.n.g.... I love you so much Valerie, and I know my life in Florence is going to be drastically different without you next door, living this extraordinary life in Florence together. I am however, deeply thankful and blessed to have met you. I think we are in this for life!

    You are about to go on the next adventure of your life, and I am so proud of you for having the guts to do it! I've always said I wanna be like you when I grow up, TI AMO!

  3. Really lovely sentiment. I hope your time there has been all you hoped it would be! Wishing you safe travels and much happiness as you return to the US...

  4. thank you for sharing this! I will miss you tons even if we just met recently.. YOu are in indeed on the road to a new adventure but I feel very lucky to have a wonderful new friend.. you will be missed but we will see each other wheather it be in the states or on some destination getaway;)julie

  5. Val, i am only honored to be a part of your special groups of friends here. you know I share your sentiments exactly, and like Christy, I also know that my life won't be the same after you are gone. Although I've lived in Florence for almost 5 years now, this has been possibly the most defining year for me because of everything that has happened, and you have been such an important part of that. But as you and I have said, our lives together aren't over! So see you in DC soon, whether it be on holiday or otherwise! :) Love,el

  6. What an amazing adventure, Val! But, I don't care what you say - in my book - YOU ARE SPECIAL! :) Blessings to you, my friend!!

  7. EXACTAMENTE! Perfectly said and I couldn't agree more. The differences and similarities in all of our stories are what make the bonds we create with each other that much stronger and hopefully ones that will last a lifetime. I can't imagine what my last 4 months would have been like without you and the rest of the girls. You transformed it and I will be forever grateful. Love you lots.

  8. Hi Val, I don't know you but I stumbled across your blog while I was doing a google search and I LOVE it! I'm from the DC area (Gaithersburg, MD/the red line) living in Siena now for a year ... I came over alone after I graduated college to be an au pair and to just 'experience' for once, I felt the call to come to Europe too. I had to read all your posts in one sitting because I relate to them so much ... a much needed respite from being in strange place and feeling like no one ever understands me (both what I'm saying and just me in general)! You've put into writing so many things that I've felt so many times here already (I've been here 2 months) I'm really looking forward to hearing more about adjusting back to life in DC! And I wonder if there is a YAWN in Siena? If you have any advice for me or just want to chat, feel free to e-mail me! Ciao!