Lessons about reality, beach summers and self-appreciation
Loutraki, Greece, August 1981.
I am 14 years old.
I am in Greece.
Like so many other summers before that.
And so many more after.
I am Greek you see and my parents would always send me to Greece during the summer to stay with my grandparents.
So all summers were made of sea, sunshine, the smell of thyme and oregano, playing cards with my granny during the hot afternoons, watching American TV shows subtitled in Greek on Greek TV, reading the same books numerous times during siesta time (compulsory and seemingly interminable) and eating ice cream and souvlakia at the open-air cinema. watching reruns of mediocre old movies.
My gran used to say that the one thing she could spot me with was my swimsuit because my head was always under water … I spent so much time playing in the lukewarm Mediterranean, pretending I was a mermaid, learning to somersault endlessly and creating my own version of synchronized swimming … My fingers looked like the ones of an old Crone when I finally agreed to come out of the water …
On the beach, in the water, the Greeks tend to talk and socialize. and so I did too. And I made friends on the beach every year... although most of them were different every time.
Fast forward to that particular summer... by now I'm 14, and I believe I know everything about life. After a few weeks with my parents I decide, quite rebelliously, to visit my godmother in Loutraki a well-known seaside resort town. My godmother is an old traditional lady and she has been offered a flat in one of the ugly buildings on the seafront for a month. Not a direct view one but one on the side streets... She is staying there with one of her even older widowed sisters and her niece, my “blood” sister, the one Greek girl I can't wait to see every year, my BFF in this country, the ever so beautiful dark eyed, dark haired Maria.
We meet again every year or so, impatient to catch up on our school here, on how much our boobs have or haven't grown, on our love crushes and heartbreaks and all the TV gossip we can remember…
I love her to bits and I'm so happy to see her again. Please remember we had no phones, no internet, no way to communicate all year long beside the occasional letter. But she only speaks Greek and I don't know how to write in Greek... After a year-long absence we are so eager to meet again… it’s usually insanely noisy when we do !!
So that year I arrive in Loutraki by bus (all grown up or so I believe) and we settled into our typical routine…
Mornings at the beach...Swimming and chit-chatting in and out of the water... Lunch under the parasol made of tomatoes and peaches, sometimes some feta cheese and paximadia (traditional Greek rusk... you've not lived until you've tried dipping some in olive oil and eating it with feta)...
That year, finally, the “old” ladies have decided to let us go to the beach on our own and we are elated, feeling so full of ourselves you can't imagine.
Both of us are qualified swimmers like most Greek teenagers…
So here we are.
Two sun kissed teen girls, at the top of the world. She is the Mediterranean type brunette, I am the blond European one.
Of course we make friends. Girls want to approach us and be close to us…. I believe it's because of Maria (she calls herself Natalia by now, more exotic for Greek standards). In truth, I will understand that it's also because of me, the outsider, the new girl, the foreign one, the fascinating French girl. Because although I speak fluent Greek and I am Greek by my mother lineage, I am Swiss by my father and have always (more or less) lived in France … So I do represent the alien one in Greece.
And the boys…
Ohh the boys …
In France I am this slightly overweight, intellectual, blue-eyed, blond girl.
Not the popular kind. I do not seem to appear on any boys' radar … ever.
So I usually consume myself in unrequited love crushes for the hot boy of the classroom and dream most of my kisses.
But in Greece…
To my absolute surprise, that year, I was to discover that in Greece... for the boys... I am DA BOMB!
I have always considered Maria to be the “pretty one” between the two of us…
The boys that year disagree.
I am the talk of the beach.
Boys want to take me to the movies, boys want to buy me ice cream ( oh the Greek ice cream parlors on the beachfront … Again, you haven't lived…), boys want to hold my hand, boys want to kiss me… and more.
I am flabbergasted.
I am flattered.
I am feeling lucky.
And I accept quite a few offers … Walking barefoot on the beach at night and stopping to kiss under the stars, with the remote sound of the beach disco in the distance... the memories of those “Summer nights” are still with me today and keep me going in desperate winter times…
Two of the best weeks of my life…
I'm living in the body of a Prom Queen, and boys make moves on me constantly ... and will every summer after that... until I come to Greece with my future husband (lol!)
But all those years of being a raging success, one or two months every year, did wonders for my self-esteem and self-appreciation.
Of course I would go back to France in September, back to my Ordinary Girl status…
But the aura of the Greek boys’ admiration would last until the next summer… mmm …
I feel like a Golden Girl, like I can't do anything wrong. I have the fun of my life.
And I know today that this dual opinion the world had on me, has shaped my life and beliefs in a profound and crucial way. I learnt that how I am seen does not reflect reality.
I didn't change between France and Greece... Only my environment changed…
So I know that I can be a hit in some places where I am a rarity ( blond, blue-eyed, fair-skinned, foreign language speaking Golden Girl) and just the girl next door in some other places.
But I also came to understand recently, during a conversation with my mom about speaking two languages from a very young age, that this “dual standards, dual reality” concept might well have been ingrained in me way before my heart teenage Greek summers.
I actually am bilingual from birth, through what can almost be described as a random turn of events.
And I know (there are actual recordings of me!) that I could translate from Greek to French and vice-versa at the age of four.
This has opened a completely different world to me, than would be accessible to a monolingual kid.
I know that to describe an object with four legs and a flat board to eat on, there are two words.
Each of them completely different.
Each of them equally right.
Not one better than the other.
(I actually now know five words for a table because I learned more languages along the way … that's another story …)
So I knew, from a very young age, that reality isn't monolithic and that it is authentic and tangible in various ways, that it is made of different substances, that these substances have different names… even different compositions.
In Greek we call a certain color blue that the French call Green... Even the limits of colors are different …
And each Greek person considers she is right.
And each French person considers she is right.
And they both are.
I knew that. I know that.
How much does that make me different from a monolingual person ?
My point here ?
You are right.
And I am too.
Because we all only talk about ourselves.
I am the prettiest girl on the beach.
I am an ordinary girl at school.
Both are true.
And the only reality I'm concerned about today, is who do I feel I am ?
How about you ?
Are you ready to open up to new ideas and possibilities, ready to trust and leap into full empowerment ?
Have you decided you’re done with living in fear and want to speak up ?
I’m here to help you increase your self-respect, embrace your self-esteem and self-love, expand beyond your wildest dreams, stretch your comfort zone, find your purpose and prosper, finally ask to be paid for your talents, skills and work, in order to fully express the visionary, caring, compassionate TooMuch woman that you already are.
If you know you’re a TooMuch Woman and are finally willing to embrace that,
If you’re done living in fear and are eager to become the Creatrix of your best life,
If you willing to embrace absolute self-love and stop betraying yourself every chance you get,
If you're finally ready to invest in yourself … and to back yourself up !
Book a free Dare to Shine discovery call and let’s see if we are a fit for coaching to unleash your inner Goddess! https://bookme.name/isayabelle/lite/30-minutes-free-discovery-call
I would be so happy to hear from you about all that. Thank you in advance for your comment.
So much for today ...
See you soon, for my next online adventures!
Until then I send you love, light and gratitude.