As a result of graduating university, I’ve just spent the past two years living in bright and bustling Barcelona.
Flipping through my old journals, reminiscing old photographs and memories from the beginning ’til now — post Barcelona. I’ve changed a lot.
I’ve grown into ‘myself’ I suppose. I’ve been shaped more into the woman I’ve wanted to become, and I’m far closer to that person than ever before. I’m sassy and strong and full of courage. I’ve grown to take no shit from men and express my opinion on any matter I feel strongly about. I’ve become more comfortable in my body, even posing nude in Barcelona on several occasions.
My transformation has made me wonder if this change was inevitable. Place places no significant role, and it was going to happen regardless. Or, on the other hand, if coming to Barcelona is what changed me. Barcelona changed me.
But can a physical place actually have the power to change us or is it actually the people who transform us? I’d argue it’s the people.
Studies have shown that warm and sunny weather has the power to make you happier, but happiness is temporary. Personality change is a gradual, more permanent transition.
Therefore, my long walks through the picturesque Catalan capital haven’t transformed me into the person I am today. The people did that.
If we broke down what I said:
I’m sassy and strong and full of courage. Ok, this one I think comes from growth. Finishing university, fleeing the country, and setting up a life in a new country, and learning a new language can certainly have the power to make you stronger and braver. 1 point for place.
I’ve grown to take no shit from men. That’s an easy one, people. I’ve crossed paths with some pretty awful human beings in Barcelona, the majority of them men. Once you’ve been followed home, harassed, and illogically screamed at by men, you grow to stand up for yourself. I’m now comfortable to tell off-putting men to “get the fuck” when necessary. 1 point for people.
I’ve grown to express my opinion on any matter I feel strongly about. Back in university, I was more reserved about my thoughts. I didn’t let a lot of people in. I wrapped myself in a sheer fabric, only allowing people to see a blur of who I was. But in Barcelona I stumbled upon strong, opinionated women who lifted me up, making me feel more comfortable with who I am and how I think. I grew to express myself through the encouragement of my friends. 1 point for people.
Lastly, I said I’ve become more comfortable in my body. I met a few photographers in Barcelona who made art out of nudity. I was instantly curious, eventually taking the plunge and posing for them. This kind of liberation made me feel far more comfortable and confident in my skin. 1 point for people.
There we have it. 1 point for place. 3 points for people.
I truly believe that if you go off to travel or live somewhere new, the people you surround yourself and the encounters you have will play a more significant role in your transformation than any place could by itself.