Fore word: I’ve finally managed to nab a spot of internet away from crowds and my troublesome mates and I was just thoroughly motivated and I absolutely must share this in hopes that it might help someone else to gain their confidence as well.

I’ve decided. This year is going to be different. No more procrastinating, excuses, putting off things. No more disorganization and no more bad habits. But most importantly: No more shyness, insecurities and putting others before myself.

Yes, here comes the ages old refrain: I want to make changes in my life. I want to get closer to attaining my dreams and stop telling myself that I’m too young or too weak to do something or make a difference. No more letting myself get caught up in a whirlwind of life in New York. No more turning my room into a compressed version of Times Square after the ball drops. [Ok I’m not that messy, but its why I’ve become messy that I want to change and that’s simply not having the energy or the time. So I figure organising myself and setting my priorities will give me time.]

So what’s brought about this change? Someone made me see myself differently. This happened a few weeks ago on the Cycladic Isle of Paros. It was one of my first stops on a summer of touring the Islands with friends and family rather than just visiting our old familiar areas of Greece. My parents also agreed to letting my sister and I tour the islands with our friends alone, because of my dream. Most of you know that I want to be a Marine Biologist (or something along that line) despite my love of writing (and you might also know that I want to incorporate my love of writing and teaching into that career).  Ever since we spent those few years living in Athens, I wanted to visit all the Islands and Scuba dive off the coast of each. Our first summer here I got my first certificate on the Island of Crete with a local Padi dive shop.  Since then I had diven off the coast of Santorini, Zakynthos, Paros and in the North of Greece near Thessaloniki. But anyone who has seen a map of Greece knows that there are hundreds of Islands just begging to have their sandy shores discovered.

So we started our summer in Paros- we have a property there and my parents agreed to let us all crash there and use it as a home base. Though its a humble island home, comprised of just three main rooms and two bathrooms, its airy when there’s the typical Parosian tempests.  Also, there is a rather large balcony/porch out side that is partially sheltered by the sun. We have a hamock and pool chair out there and all together- using the back area, the bed room, the couch, and the roof (we threw the tent kit up and then jumped onto our roof from our neighbours which is easy to get onto because the ground slopes…) we managed to sprawl comfortably in the heat… Well relatively comfortably. After spending a few days with Jynx in the desert near Saudi Arabia in Jordan, and enduring the scorching hot sands, muds and water(liquid salt) of the Dead Sea we made our peace with the heat during the breif, still nights knowing that we’d find relief in the beaches and depths of the water during the day.

So what does sun bathing, resolutions for change, and scuba diving all have to do with one another?

Earlier, while we were in Paros for the first time (a luscious five days of staying put!) I met a 22 year old English chap who would soon become one of my favourite dive partners. We are both easy going people who have an unbridled love for the water and the depths, so we naturally and effortlessly melded together in the water. Our dives were relaxing and stimulating and perfectly enjoyable. Everything would go smoothly and we’d get to discover the local environment. On deck we fell into easy conversation- me telling my complicated life’s story and explaining my name and etc. and him telling me about his voyages. He’s been out of school for four years traveling the globe. Jynx and mine’s adventures in Jordan and our henna struck him quite a bit as just this winter he had spent five months traveling and exploring India in Solitude. He was full of great anecdotes and the brevity of the boat rides to our dive sites was sorely accentuated. However, it didn’t take long for us to discover something else we had in common… We were both half Italian. I was shocked when he told me- I really didn’t see a millimeter past his strong british accent. However, despite his coppery blonde hair, whether from the traveling and the past month on the boat diving every day- he was tan enough to be Italian. See his skin tone didn’t match with the pale English stereotype.  So amongst our reminiscing about what our mothers were like in the kitchen (clean to the extreme, quick, efficient and not to mention talented making for a lovely and healthy child hood) he quick to comment on my paleness for someone of full Mediterranean descent.

Needless to say I got burnt that first day. I blamed it on my lack of vit. D in recent times- from staying inside to study rather than participate in sports and outings and staying relatively covered up in Jordan or inside to escape the heat. Fact of the matter is- every summer, no mater how much sunblock i put on, how often I put it on, or how high an SPF (UVA or B) I use… I still get burnt within the first few weeks of every summer. My skin just doesn’t have a lot of melanin in it 😦

So after his teasing about me being the only mediteranean to get sunburned- ever- I decided that bit by bit, every day I’d commit to sitting outside for half an hour or more, until I built up a tolerance to the sun (A.K.A. – a tan). A couple weeks in and I am fairly darker than I was at the begining of the summer. You can actually say I have a tan now. However I’m still not even half as dark as most of my friends who darken all but exponentially as soon as they are exposed to an ounce of sun. It’s like their skin is photo-reactive or something! But what happens to me is the opposite. My hair lightens rapidly in the summer- resulting in me being called blonde by all my family.

I find it very hard to waste my time. To just sit outside and do nothing- even though I tell myself I’m helping myself by getting a little bit of vitamin D and melanin into my system.  And part of that is the nagging feeling that by trying to make myself feel like a bigger part of the family by darkening my skin… I make myself seem even more alien by lightening my hair. And hats don’t help. Once it gets the slightest bit of sun I get blonde streaks from root to tip!

Another reason why I don’t like to sit out tanning is because its a boring activity. It’s hard to read one of the bulky books I have to read for school, and with no one to talk to I feel like time just draggs on- as a result I interpret 10 minutes as half an hour and get no where with my goal. It would undoubtably be easier if I had a friend or two willing to sit out in the sun with me instead of resting in the coolness of the water, so we could at least gab or gossip (though you know I don’t like to gossip every now and then Jynx’s twin brother  draws us into a gossip fest be jumping into the room, hopping onto her bed and twittering in a falscetto “Ok guys, now DISH!”)

But that doesn’t happen, and with my group of mixed friends who don’t all know eachother and without the stimulus of the socialites of school there isn’t much to gossip about. As a result, back in Paros for a few days, I took a small bowl of chips, a frigid glass of Iced tea and  one of my mom’s “O” magazines (and of course armed with my trusty Ipod and brassy tones to help keep self consciousness at bay) out to the chaise lounge to keep me company. I hoped the magazine would provide some uplifting and insightful- but light- summer reading.

Thankfully it was.

The issue I happened to pick up was (I believe) the most recent one. Dedicated to change (you’re starting to see how it all comes together now, aren’t you?) One of the cover stories immediately caught my eye. “What your body language is saying behind your back” I take a keen interest in what different action and movements mean when translated into the mind so I was curious to see what path this article would take. When the stage opened onto an overly apologetic, active mother I saw a glimpse of what my life would be like in ten years or so. My Canadian ‘side’ really shows through when it comes to my manners. I say sorry way to much-to the point of getting on people’s nerves or having them laugh at me- and I say thank you and please as if they were still a part of the modern vocabulary. Adults like that about me, as do people my age since it makes me a laughing stock.  However it makes me seem meek- a characteristic that my peers are all to eager to exploit- despite my stuborness and strong willed nature.  The way that this mother was able to change her life- even to the point of getting her daughter’s soft ball coach to put aside prejudices on the feild and give the weaker players a shot, as well as reading other articles in the mag about change- I thought it was time I tried some myself.

I figure if I make myself determined enough, and resolute enough, and guard myself against potential failures, Also if I commit myself to changing another aspect of my life as well (so self confidence along with organisation) any progress made in one area should stimulate me not to give up.

Also, that fact that we are moving houses and I’ll have a room to myslef, as well as a chance to re decorate and re organise all my stuff is going to help to set my life in order. I’ll have a space to work all of my own- rather than taking over the dining room table! Also, I feel that if I’m more organised, it will be easier to get things done quicker and in a more prioritized manner.

However there is one other thing that is motivating me to boost my self confidence. A few days ago I stayed up until 4 in the morning, online with a group of my friends, as we waited for the demand on the website we were all trying to acces- to drop. Results from some exams we had taken this year as part of a new program were to be released at midnight, but so many people were trying to get on the site at once that it wasn’t letting us get in.  For some three hours I repeatedly refreshed the page, re entered the webadress, re entered and double checked my login and passcode. One by one we heard the shouts of joy of our friends through the wires as their codes were finally accepted and those lovely letters that mean so much; popped onto the screen. Finally my results came. But my joy was dampened. The pleasantly stellar results I’d achieved were dulled by one of my low marks. The sad part is my lowest mark was an A, and though I was thrilled about the A I’d gotten in Art, the english language A was somewhat of a let down. I love to write and for the past year and a half, English Language was the one class where I really felt at home. The class where I had the support I needed, but not the pressure of an oversized class or overeager teacher. In the torture that school had become- days clouded by boring geography teachers and cramped, noisy classes; English was my haven- a room where I could retreat to, put on my music and just write with the help I needed, when i needed it.

When my friends started asking me how my grades were (we never ask for what just how pleased we are) and I responded with “ok” (because I knew they were good but I didn’t want to accept it) every one became concerned. When I finally told them what subject and the mark it was that was disheartening me, I became awash in congratulations and reassurances about my ‘skill’ as a writer. Soon even a couple of friends who only read this blog and don’t really know me other wise were participating in the charade. I would have been happy with an A in English Literature or any other subject (although I got an annoying full marks in Lit. that I didn’t want) what annoyed me was this: I got an A+ in two subjects where I thought I would get an A, but I just wanted to prove my Geography teacher and the history class bully wrong. I wanted to show our geo teacher that despite his not having taught us anything in the past year and a half and me sleeping during class and then having to learn the syllabus on my own in three months- that I could pull it off. I wanted to show a particularly annoying pupil in my history class that; though I didn’t care if he thought he was smarter than me; he shouldn’t be so arrogant. But the high mark in Language I wanted just to prove to myself that I actually can write (much like why I started the blog). I guess I suspected my teacher of baby-ing me, or giving me high marks just because i was a good student and we got along, or because she knew my ambitions to one day be a writer. like wise I suspect my friends of just telling me what they think I want to hear. so i thought an examiner would be truthful, and I honestly thought I could get a high mark in it. I felt a bit heart broken when I saw my predicted grades for the two english subjects reversed into reality. I kept looking back and rechecking them to make sure I wasn’t reading them wrong.  And I was about to close down this website with tears in my eyes when the words a close friend had said to me a few nights earlier, struck a chord with what my other friends were presently saying. He had said “don’t sell urself short…if u want to write and have a passion for it…i say..write♥” which was basically just saying to do whatever i want and had no allusions to talent or anything of the sort- which was why it appealed to me. He was telling me to just do what made me happy no matter what anyone else thought. And this bluntly honest, down to earth encouragement was what I needed to hear because its when friends start raving about a invisble ‘talent’ or ‘greatness’ of one sort or other that I lose faith because it seems so inscinsere and impossible.

And so with those words bouncing off my head I’ve also made up my mind- Come september I will audition (as a new kid in school) for the school musical in my new school. I’m moving to a school that has better options for me and will stimulate me more as well as give me more support in my dreams. Where as I’ve always sung in the choir as a supporting vioce with my sister braving center stage, I’ll try the spotlight on my voice and try to squeak out the bold tones that normally grace only my shower tiles.  Maybe the confidence in this arena is also coming from the fact that for the first time I will not be just, someone’s sister. I’ll be me. People won’t have to know i’m a twin until I’m ready for them to and they won’t be able to judge me compared to her or align us or confuse us. And so if my voice turns out to be crap, who gives a damn, they don’t know what hers is like and I won’t be tarnishing her reputation.

So I guess I want to say thank you to friends who know eachother well enough to be able to get past eachother’s fail safes against disapointment in times of crisis. ANd thank you to my friends for being there for me at  the lowest of low moment of an identity crisis.