M A T E I T E S T A
P H O T O G R A P H Y B Y A L E X A N D R A R O M A N
Well, I'll have to start off by saying that I know many will not agree with me, but frankly, I think 'perfect happiness' does not exist. I mean, think about it. We're almost 7 billion people out there, with different opinions, mentalities or ways of life. Those 3 factors alone dramatically affect the way each and everyone of us perceives happiness. My point is, we can't really define the boundary between an 'average' life and a 'happy’ life, because that basically means placing every single person in the same melting pot, and assuming we all have our bar set high in order to achieve happiness. And for me, that's such a first-world mentality, to which I can't relate. But from my point of view, though, I believe that a happily lived life is one lived without being constantly constrained by expectations, and that's a thing I have learned this year, really. I used to believe that planning every single aspect of your life and constantly showing your importance in front of others was such an essential thing to do in order to be at peace with yourself, but that's so wrong! And I say this because, especially in times like these, where everything is so crazy and things seem to change every fucking minute that passes by, what if things don't go as planned, or people don't share the same views with you [as you hoped they would], meaning that it won't match your expectations? Sudden/unexpected moments like these are, in my opinion, the ones who stray us further and further away from happiness, contrary to what one might think. So maybe, just for once, try and live for now (may or may not have sounded like a Pepsi spokesperson, lol) and put your expectations away. You're welcome, by the way.
It must be the fact that I put way too much trust in people, and assume that only because I’d always be there for them, they’d be here for me, too. And unfortunately this is a very ‘expired’ mentality. Perhaps I was busy the day when it became ‘cool’ to behave like the ultimate ‘snake’, as my generation would call it, and give up on people when they’re not of interest anymore? Who knows…
Oh man, I’m guessing that’s a subject everyone could go and talk on and on about. I must remind you the times in which we’re living in right now, so in my opinion, if you have like 5-6 close friends, go ahead and thank God because you’re lucky. That’s, in fact, one of the things I’m most thankful for, to be fair, that whether I’m in England or Romania, I have my stable group of friends who have been sticking with me for ages and that are like an extended family to me. But, I’d say that to me, friendship means being able to maintain a bond with a person unconditionally. No matter the distance (look at Alexandra and I, separated at 5.000 km apart 90% of the year, but with the same unbreakable bond for 15), the circumstances or even the fights that you two might be going through. And it goes the same way for a relationship, really, because in many contexts, they’re not that different. If it really is a strong connection, people will eventually find their way back together, assuming both parties want to.
I mean, as a friend, you don’t have to talk to me every day. Heck, you don’t have to tell me all of your problems if you don’t want to (even though I do have my fair share of great advices). But that doesn’t mean that you can just cut me off when you meet other people that you now call your friends.
It’s pathetic, really, and it shows not only immaturity, but also falsity in the way you treat things. This year I’ve learned that that the duration of a friendship, or a relationship for that matter, does not determine the strength of it all the time. You start feeling tied to a person just because you’ve known them for like 10, 12 or 14 years, and that’s an error in judgement in my opinion, because you don’t open yourself to [the idea of] meeting new people. Throughout 2017, whether it was back home or in England, I’ve acquired new friendships with people whom I barely spoke with once or twice in my life before, and all of this was because I’ve only now realized how ‘unhealthy’ it is to be focused only on one person and solely on fixing your relationship [with that person], whether it was a girl I liked or a friend. And this is what I respect most about my friends, too. They always put me in such a good mood, no matter the circumstances. I have friends with whom I started getting along really well based on the most random shit, like coincidentally being in the same class, or sending each other funny memes (do this and you have a friend in me). My point is, be open to these circumstances and situations, because they are great opportunities for making new friends, and please don’t spend all of your time being sorry that ‘you’ve been ditched’ by people who you used to be close with, because they’ve now found ‘a better friend’. Find your own ‘better friend’ or ’better relationship’, not to prove them wrong, but to show the maturity of moving on.
Ok, this actually made me laugh. I was just having a conversation with my dad a few days ago about how everyone in my generation constantly overuses the word “gen” (my fellow Romanians, you know what I’m talking about), and how it is the Romanian version of the British/American expression “you know”. And what’s funny about it is that it was exactly like one of those moments when you meet a person and then, YOU KNOW, start seeing them EVERYWHERE and ask yourself how the hell you’ve never even heard about them before?! It was the same for me, I realized how much I, and everyone around me, have been using all this “you know” nonsense, and how annoying it actually sounds to the others. But anyway, even if I most probably DO KNOW what you’re talking about in a conversation, we both know that we’re still gonna keep on using it, so I guess that’s that.
No, but on a more serious note, a word I always overuse, even though I shouldn’t, must be ‘sorry’. I don’t know if it’s a thing I’ve gotten since moving to England (yes, the stories are true - every single British person LOVES saying sorry) or it’s just a thing I’ve always been doing subconsciously, but especially in times like 2017 where people turn their back on you more than are willing to help you, saying ‘sorry’ all the time doesn’t really fit in the context, you know what I mean?
You know what’s funny? That such a simplistic question is actually so hard to answer to. I could write pages on this, or I might as well say ‘it’s alright’, because not everyone truly cares and many would ask just to ‘complete their duty of not being rude’. But anyway, the real answer would be that it’s so different from everything you’re used to back home. Starting with the fact that I’ve gotten to the point of knowing people and having friends from like every continent (funny side story-when I found out I was going to Hong Kong in winter, my first reaction was like “Oh wow, I can’t wait to hang out with my friends from there” and then I stopped for one second thinking that-“Wow, has it really come to this? One year ago the farthest I’d go to visit a friend would be a 15-minute Uber ride!”) or studying subjects that people back home would only dream of, what I love about my new life is this whole experience I get to live from an early age. Plus, not to mention the huge amount of really exciting academic and (even more exciting) travel opportunities I get. Yes, if you’re wondering, I was on a flight at the time of writing this and I might as well be on one as you’re reading it right now. Obviously, just like anyone else living abroad, away from their families and friends back home, I have my moments when I do miss my home country. But I always stay positive and think to myself that, at the end of the day, I’m only doing myself a huge favor by being here and I realize how many things I will have achieved by the time of finishing high school abroad, compared to what would have happened if I stayed in Romania. A very important thing that I’ve learned after moving to England is that great things never come from comfort zones, and I can easily say that studying abroad is not part of your comfort zone. But that’s OK! You’ll have your holidays, you’ll meet your friends, you’ll sleep in your bed, but until then, focus on what really matters and push yourself to achieve as many things as you can while you’re away from home. It’s a cliché, I know, but work hard, then play hard-they all come at their time.
Yes, but not necessarily because of the culture being so different itself, because thank God, during my life, I’ve managed to travel a lot so I was already used to having very different people around me, but because of the overwhelming amount of competition you encounter in London, in every singe professional area there is. But I see that as a good thing, though. Thus far I’ve come to the conclusion, and while it’s not a comforting realization at all, that people LOOOVE you when you don’t represent any form of competition. They’re all your friends and are ‘there for you’. But the sad reality is that people wish you all the best, until your best coincides with their best. And if it does coincide, from that point onwards, it’s a blood bath. You’ll hear them say your name in anything but a prayer. So yeah, that’s how London is, in a way [from the perspective of the open-minded, of course].
Not really, even though I wish I did sometimes. I guess being away from home most of the time puts me in a position where I can’t be connected with everything going on there. But sometimes I do love myself a good debate on Romanian politics, I must admit
That’s a good one. I don’t really know if it’s that much of a social issue, but what ‘triggers’ me so much in this perspective is why does the geographical location of a country determine to what extent people are sorry, happy or how much empathy they show when a notable event, whether bad or good, happens there? And let me explain my point on this one. In the western world, we’re taught to be so ‘politically correct’ with one another. And in theory, that sounds great, doesn’t it? I mean, no discrimination, no hate speech, no violence so on and so forth. But the truth lies within a sad reality which many tend to avoid, and that is that politically correctness is only found in the ‘culturalized’, western world. And this is the reason why so many people from the 1st world countries have such a tunnel vision on many subjects and care about them only when it directly affects them, or when they need to look ‘sympathetic’ in the eyes of others.
Why did the lift on the ban of women drivers in Saudi Arabia matter less than literally any sequel of an American movie or T.V. series that came out in 2017? Why does no one, in reality, give a shit about Muslims fleeing their homes in Myanmar, but when an attempt of a terrorist attack takes place in London, my Instagram consists 99% percent of ‘heartbroken’ celebrities posting about how they #PrayForLondon? I’d never say that these events occurring in the civilized world are less important, because I’d be a hypocrite since I live in it, but I hope that this ‘politically correctness’ that we deal with every day will still make room for an open-minded discussion about all these terrible events that threaten our world every day, especially when people seem to forget about them 3 days later. I really do.