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Tortoiseshell glasses

Actualizado: 12 ene

Without equal


50…40…30…20 meters away from taking separate courses. It was 2:23 am on December 22. My friend Beatriz was driving one bicycle and I was riding another, we were pedaling through the middle of a deserted street, the same one where the buses that take to the university roll during the day. At the end of the road stood the clock tower of the Gare (train station) of La Rochelle. These were the last moments before saying goodbye to her. She would have to return to Brazil soon.

In those moments, with each pedal stroke and sigh, while the cold wind hit my face and I saw Beatriz's bicycle a little ahead of mine, I thought 'What forces me to turn left? Nothing. Is there any desire to get to my bedroom a few minutes early? None. So why not close this chapter with a few extra seconds of more laughter?'

Why not close this chapter by doing precisely what I know best?

To be me


The stage where the bicycles rolled


1 in the universe

I have lived almost all my life in the same house in Barranquilla. I love my home, but I often like to go out. There's nothing wrong with where I live or my family, I've just always been fascinated with exploring the world. When I was a child I used to go out and play with my neighbors. I remember how my group of neighborhood friends evolved over the years until eventually almost disappearing when I began my college years; I chose to go out less in the neighborhood and more to other places in the city. When I was little I didn't have permission to go very far, so most of my childhood memories are with my friends from the residential complex. I grew up watching American Disney series although I also played soccer and hide and seek. Several times I have thought about how my childhood experiences continue to be the origin of many traits of my personality. I have done the exercise in my mind of drawing the connections between the moments that once marked me, and I try to draw the map of what constitutes my present self.


On the other hand, in addition to trying to understand myself, I also spend part of my thoughts reflecting on others. I remember that when I was 7 or 8 years old, I used to write detailed letters to the protagonists of the series I watched, showing that I knew their characters, and I sent them through the Disney Latino website in the hope of receiving a response. Even now that I have grown up, I am still intrigued by the how and why of daily living in the lives of my friends and the people I know.


The idea of ​​uniqueness has long intrigued me a lot. Although in terms of appearance or worldview, it may be the case that several people share similarities, the truth is that each person is unique. Of course, this is not a new idea, however, appreciating this truth has gradually led me to value more the story I create with every human being I encounter in this life. Because if there is something that I cannot deny, regardless of what my interpersonal experience with someone has been, it is that everyone has in their essence something special, something good. And that good thing deserves to be shared.


Different theaters

Coming to study in France has allowed me to experience contrasts that have taught me lessons. I have suffered and still suffer from several of these contrasts, in the sense that it has been difficult for me to understand them and then learn to live with them satisfactorily. I went from my classmates mostly coming from the same region in Colombia to being from different countries around the world. I went from showing who I am in Spanish to doing it almost daily in 4 languages. I went from seeing an abundance of people who shared my faith to seeing a scarcity. I went from walking around my Barranquilla to seeing it through the videos my dad sends me. Living within this multiculturalism has been difficult for me at times, although I am very grateful for having the opportunity to live this experience.


Such variety made me expand my mind but also led me to question the value of who I am and represent. I saw what the lifestyles were like among people of different nationalities, I analyzed their topics of conversation, musical preferences, ways of dressing, aspirations, and beliefs. I discovered that the people around me were in many ways different from me. I thought, 'After all, I just represent a small vestige of another culture, what's so special about me? Is it the way I am interesting enough for the world?' Because if there was a scenario in my life story that could fit the idea of ​​living in the “world” was this one. Undoubtedly.


So day by day I faced the world, not exactly in a war, but in the challenge of feeling proud of being me. I often saw that thing that made others special, that which made each one iconic, yet at times I doubted the potential of my uniqueness.


When I first met Beatriz, I once told her that being yourself in another language could be complicated, I told her that I believed that you couldn't express your entire personality unlike if you did it in your native language. She agreed. However, it was my friendship with her that made me realize that being genuine with each other, despite in this case having a language barrier (speaking Portuguese which is not my native language), was the element that made the bond real and special.


The seasoning of relationships

Uniqueness is what spices interpersonal relationships and gives a unique flavor to each story. I believe that embracing our essence and being true to ourselves is what makes us special. I also think that we are imperfect and unique beings, all with the potential to offer something meaningful to other people's lives and grow as people by valuing the uniqueness of others and our own. For these reasons, it makes no sense to want to be the same as another person or to undervalue who we are.


Today my message is about being proud of who we are. We must value our personality, culture, virtues, achievements, and history. Likewise, we must learn to share who we are and value what others are, far from making value judgments about whether the other person is more or less special than us.


That early morning of bicycles and goodbyes officially marked the beginning of winter, it was the December solstice. I was wearing an overshirt, black pants, double socks, a scarf, and my tortoiseshell glasses. When I met Beatriz, back in early September, it was still summer. Back then, I used to wear shorts, t-shirts, a single pair of socks, cloth tennis shoes, and my tortoiseshell glasses. Time passed and during those months she saw me many times in different outfits, but what never changed in the friendship was the authenticity of each other and my tortoiseshell glasses. Amid diversity, I learned that being 1 in 8 billion does not mean being insignificant but rather unparalleled. And it is precisely valuing our uniqueness that makes us stand out without seeking to do so.



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