While it’s been a few days now since we left Romania, the whole experience is only starting to hit me now. The thoughts and emotions running through my mind are endless but I think I can sum it all up in a short blog.
The group homes and the pilot centre, while I could never unsee the bad side of these places, it’s the amazing people I’ve met along the way that I’ll remember the most. In the week that I spent in Romania, I saw many places and met lots of people. Nowhere is perfect. Ireland isn’t and neither is Romania. However, in all bad there is good. The beauty of some places is not in the scenery, or the architecture. It’s in the people, and in Romania the people are the most selfless and genuine people I’ve ever met.
In a rich country like Ireland, money talks. We’re judged on the number of digits in our bank accounts or the weight of the ring on our fingers. It’s different in Romania. It felt like the less money people had the less it mattered. We should be judged by our character, not our wealth and I genuinely believe that our wealth stops us from considering that. We’re blinded to a certain degree by it over here, but much less so in Romania. One conversation I had with a local gave me this insight. She never had much, but she was happy. She said her family, and her friends were what mattered most to her. It really makes me wonder why we can’t be like that here.
Growing up, we dream big. We want to be famous sportspeople, musicians, politicians and entrepreneurs. It doesn’t always turn out like that. We can’t all be everything to everyone. When we don’t achieve the near-impossible, it hurts us. What we don’t realise is the difference we can make to the people around us. I’m just an average 16-year-old from Castlebar. I’m not famous and I’m not rich. That isn’t perfect but this week I learned that we don’t have to be all that to make a difference. When I was playing with the beneficiaries, I meant the world to them. Their smiles and their laughs, this showed me something. I meant so much to them, and from that I learned that I could make a difference. Making a difference and changing the world are two very different things. We struggle to separate the two. It isn’t until we learn the latter that we can appreciate the former.
Making a difference, mattering, when we appreciate it, it’s the best feeling. Maybe it’s just me, but putting a smile on someone else’s face is the most rewarding thing you can ever do. The fact that I never thought I could make such a difference is just the cherry on top. Maybe realising these things has come from having come home and living my normal life where nothing happens but if I can make a difference to someone, or anyone, it’ll be worthwhile. Maybe I still can change the world. I’m only young, But if I don’t then so be it because I’ll know that I can still matter to people without being everything to everyone.
Life is strange. It’s one of the few things people can agree on. Maybe we can appreciate life a little more when we acknowledge that it isn’t perfect. We all have problems and we all have setbacks. If we understand this then we can be grateful for the good things in our lives.