Why have I been hiding?

It’s been interesting to see and experience me coming out of my shell to the extent that it has over the last month. At home, I’m not really the most social person in the world, and I’m completely ok with that. My introversion gets the best of me and being busy doesn’t help. Nervous to say the wrong thing or come off as weird. The fear of being judged. But here, on this journey, there is no fear of that. I talk to people. I start conversations. I get a feel for people and who they are. My sense of humor, need for adventure, my willingness to have fun and let go and be completely myself, it’s all there in full force. 
I’m kind of wondering where I’ve been. Why I’ve been hiding. Why the actual me disappeared in the first place. I guess adolescence took away a lot of my fun, crazy personality and turned it into awkwardness and fear. I never wanted to be the annoying one and I knew that maybe when I was 11 or 12 I didn’t know how to balance being fun. Always living with the thought that the people who were in my life would get sick of me. And it’s sad to say that sometimes they did. But kids are assholes.
I still come off at first a little more quiet. Or I just take a few conversations to get to know more. But I’ve heard more than once “you seem like a lot of fun” or “I can tell you know how to have a good time” and that’s such a weird switch that I’m not used to. Where I grew up I rarely went to parties, or went out, or was always on guard or apprehensive to actually have fun. But that’s when I was 14, or 16, or 18. And now I’m traveling Europe alone and I don’t dare to second guess a good time or doing exactly what I want. 
I used to think about how I was a slightly different person with different people. It felt like I was living to be who they wanted me to be, or with some people there wasn’t that pressure at all, so I was always just me. But it never felt consistent. Always some part of me being suppressed or hidden away. Some saw the real me and some saw a slight variation of it. Less sarcastic. Less of a sense of humor. The more I figure myself out, the more I can let myself unwind. 
I don’t think I’m afraid of being me anymore. 

Not quite on my own, yet…

While I certainly didn’t expect Florida weather in Ireland, I definitely didn’t imagine it to be as cold as it is. I packed mainly for the other countries I’m going to, because the weather there will be at least 70 degrees, and will probably reach over 100 in certain parts. I certainly do not take the warmth of the sunshine for granted after being here for only a few days. 
I landed on a bright and sunny Thursday. With only really two hours of sleep, not even that, I was exhausted as soon as I got to my cousin’s house from the airport. I showered and napped for only twenty minutes before heading back out for a walk with my cousin’s wife and two grandkids of theirs. We walked down to the water, the kids played on the rocks, and we strolled over to the James Joyce Tower/Museum and walked along some narrow stairs up to the top. 
After that, we headed for ice cream from the famous Teddy’s before I finally got an Irish SIM card and connected to some real data. That night we had steak, potatoes, vegetables for dinner, and finished off with wine and cheese later in the evening. 
The next day we went to Longford after I strolled to town for a flat white and a little muffin cake thing; my cousin and I stopped for lunch on the way there before meeting my third-ish cousins. And then more third-ish cousins. And then some more. It was a long day of jet lag and exhaustion, and way too much food and tea. I had no idea tea was so popular in Ireland, and I also had no idea how much it makes me have to use the bathroom…every single hour. Now I understand the man who once handed me the mug where I work (as I’m a waitress) and said, “tea makes me potty every place.” I thought he was just being weird and old, but seriously, it does. Every evening ends with wine and cheese, and those are two of my favorite things. 
The following day was a day for Guinness, but only after a flat white and a chocolate croissant. You’re probably wondering what a flat white is; it’s basically a cappuccino. A shot of espresso with milk. We took the Dart into the city center of Dublin and walked our way through Temple and Temple Bar. The campus is absolutely beautiful and I love the streets of Temple Bar. I walked nearly 10 miles that day. Guinness was definitely a tourist attraction; when we first walked in on the first floor, the line was moving at a glacial pace. We went up each level and ended in the Gravity Bar floor, where we saw a seriously stunning view of the city and mountains. 
The evening carried on to a restaurant / bar / wine cellar that I cannot remember the name of, and lunch ended with a flat white before heading back to Dun Laoghaire. My cousins were headed to see an opera so I was on my own for the evening, I found a nice “gourmet food parlour” down by the water and had some sliders, a glass of wine, and a large piece of fudge cake that even I couldn’t finish. 
Of course, I have been on Tinder as a 22 year old traveling female in hopes for recommendations and things of that nature, but none of my conversations have amounted to anything beyond wondering what the hell some of the phrases mean. Later on, when I’m really exploring “alone” I hope it will amount to good recommendations and conversation. Either way, here is my Irish-English slang dictionary. 

Class = cool. That’s class. 

Bad means good. 

Craic. Pronounced crack. People ask, what’s the craic? Or, that’s good craic. Apparently, it means fun. I thought people were asking for crack. Sorry, I don’t have any. 

Another guy said, if you’re free, lets grab a scoop. I said, a scoop of ice cream? Sure! Apparently, it means, let’s grab a drink. Sorry, what? Can you still buy me ice cream though? 

Grand. Everything is grand. That’s grand. 

Cheers. Here, I am paying for my meal. They say cheers. Cheers cheers cheers. But you don’t say cheers when you clink your drinks together. So. 

Do you fancy an ice cream? That’s a little more obvious.

Today, a Sunday, the day before I leave Dun Laoghaire and carry on to Cork alone, I fell in love with Ireland under the sun. It finally warmed up, to a measly 60 degrees when you’re in the sun, but I finally was able to take off my rain coat and only wear a shirt and a sweater. My cousin took me to a beautiful nature path and we explored by the water as well. The ocean looked stunningly blue green. I had never really seen the ocean from such a high point, and it was hard to not fall in love. 

And tomorrow, as mentioned, I am off to Cork for two nights. I will be visiting Kinsale for an afternoon, but beyond that, I just want to accustom myself to the hostel life. It will be my first hostel I will have ever stayed at, and I can’t say I’m not a little nervous for it. I just hope there’s hot water. At the same time, I’m ready for it more than anything else. The real part of my trip is now about to begin. No obligations. No schedule. Each day will be totally up to me, not that it wasn’t these last few, but I can only rely on myself. 
Cheers.