Today I took the metro.
Yes, it may seem like a simple accomplishment, and surely something I shouldn’t just now be doing for the first time after a whole 6 weeks of living here in Athens. But, it is a daunting task, no matter how seemingly ordinary.
Having never navigated through a metro station on my own before, while also not speaking the local language, being somewhat claustrophobic and never having been to where I was headed, it was indeed, one of the most anxiety-inducing experiences I have had while in Greece.
Or was it?
Looking back on it (a whole 60 minutes later), it wasn’t all that bad. In fact, I kicked ass!
I’m sure a year or two ago I flat out would have had a total meltdown — a full blown anxiety attack, shaking and all — in the middle of the metro station, surrounded by hundreds of Greeks just wanting to get home after a long day at work.
But instead, I was able to acknowledge that I was feeling anxious, and rather than freaking out, I accepted that it would all work itself out if I just asked for help and pretended to have confidence. Silly, I know. But the fake-it-til-you-make-it attitude is sometimes (very occasionally) effective and valuable.
So I asked for help.
I ended up on the correct metro, in the correct direction — something I cannot say for many other attempted adventures — and all went swimmingly.
I even managed to squeeze in some life reflection and anthropological analysis during the 30 minute commute.
It’s incredible how every time I go somewhere different in Athens, the city reveals something new to me. I’m not speaking from the western, idealized, romantic view of some magical ancient core of knowledge.
But rather, from the view of an anthropologist trying to understand the Athenian cityscape and how it reflects the realities of a people living under neoliberal austerity.
The metro cars are covered in graffiti art, the balcony railings are rusting and the paint chipping from the walls. Yet, the Olympic stadium stands tall, white and untouched, by its gentrified neighbors as the metro speeds by.
So today I took the metro.
And I kicked its ass.