I haven’t worn in a bathing suit in a very, very, very long time. I didn’t even own a bathing suit until very recently. I had been debating whether or not I even wanted to bring it with me to Italy.
Here’s a list of my excuse for not bringing it to Rome:
1. I won’t have any opportunities to wear it
2. I don’t like to get wet
3. The water will be cold
4. I don’t know how to swim
5. I hate my body
6. It’ll just take up space in my luggage
All these thoughts went through my chaotic mind at one point or another before saying what the who, I’ll just stick in my luggage. When I weighed my luggage and found it to be 5 pounds overweight I took it out, semi-relieved to not have to take it with me and semi-disappointed that I was using that as an excuse. At the last moment something in me said “just take it already, you know you want to!” And I tucked it into my backpack.
After a week, it didn’t seem like I would come to wear it after all. Then Saturday came rolling along and it was a free day. All plans to go to Pompeii were gone with the wind. We were all so tired. This is no vacation, it’s long days, going to class, reading the homework whenever we can, walking around, exploring, going to museum but it’s been amazing and wonderful. But staying in the apartment seemed like a waste of a perfectly good Saturday in Italy. I’m not one to sleep in and take naps and do nothing, especially not with Italy beckoning.
So, a friend and I went to Sperlonga on a train ride and then a bus ride, only about 1 1/2 hours from Rome, to see the Mediterranean. Beautiful, blue and definitely a welcoming sight. I had my bathing suit on already underneath my dress but the dread was already rising from within.
“I will be judged,” I thought. “I don’t have a perfect figure and all the Italian women will,” I worried.
But I have to face my fear, living in fear is not living at all. Off with my dress and there I was in my bathing suit for all to see. Yet, nothing happened. No one stared. No bathing suit police came to whisk me off the beach. I fit in, just like everyone else. Women and men of all shapes, sizes and ages swam and roamed the beach, some were really tan and some were not tan at all. Happy to get away from the city for a day, I felt great, the water was refreshing, the sun warm on my tanning skin, the salt from the sea crystallizing under my gaze as I lay on the beach.
“I deserve this,” I thought. “I need to be kinder to myself and own the body I”m in, just like all these other people are.”
I am who I am, and for a few more days I am a young woman, studying in Rome, and loving life and facing some fears.