Attack on Titan is out and I’m struggling. Here is why.

A post about letting go of my fears, my expectacions, and my pain. A post about and moving forward.

On Sunday, 9 of January the new episodes of Attack on Titan came out. I knew it was going to happen soon, I just didn’t know the exact date. And when I figured out that the day had come I felt terrified, lost and vulnerable. Here is why.

Attack on Titan has a lot to do not only with my blog, but also with my recent breakup.

Attack on Titan is a Japanese manga by  Hajime Isayama. The story is set in a universe where humanity lives inside cities surrounded by three enormous walls that protect them from the gigantic man-eating humanoids known as “Titans”. One day Eren, the young protagonist of the series, decides to step outside the walls. And that’s when magic happens.

Eren and MIkasa, inside the walls (season 1)

Outside the Wall is the English translation for Fuori Mura.

It took me a while to pick the right name for my blog. And I must admit that Fuori Mura was a result of a collective brainstorming. But why Fuori Mura?

To me Fuori Mura means stepping exploring the unknown. Going outside the walls means doing something different or in a different way. It means overcoming fears and eventually, opening up to, embracing a new self.

One of the first times I explored the world “outside the walls” was in 2016. My first time in Latin America.

I had just turned 22 when I landed in Brazil, with zero knowledge of Portuguese and no idea of what I was doing.

Eventually it turned out to be a life changing experience – you can read all about it in my article on my friend’s blog here. Over two months in Pelotas (Rio Grande du Sur), not only did I learn a new language and understand what I wanted to do with my career. I also travelled across an extraordinary country, met incredible people, took risks, felt independent, fearless, and free.

But it all started with fear.

Rio de Janeiro, 2016.

I remember I was literally shaking when my parents dropped me at the airport for my first intercontinental flight alone.

What if I lost my connection in Sao Paulo? What if my luggage got lost in between Italy, Portugal and Brazil? What if they rob me on the bus from Porto Alegre to Pelotas? What if none picks me up at the bus station in Pelotas? I took a deep breath, or several of them. And eventually everything worked out perfectly.

Stepping outside the walls means swimming against the tide. It is a daily exercise of courage which sets you free. Here are some examples of how I went out of my comfort zone over the last five years.

In 2017 I went out of my comfort zone when I subscribed to a modern dance class.

I was living in the Netherlands back then, it was during the first semester of my Masters. I had never taken a dance class before. It’s not like I suddently wanted to learn how to dance; I was simply looking for a hobby that would oblige me to leave the house and take a break from a toxic and extremely sedentary lifestyle.

Needless to say, the dance experience was a disaster.

The class was 100% in Dutch and I could understand nothing. More importantly, while it was supposed to be a beginner class, my peers (7 beautiful, tall and blonde Dutch girls) were not beginners at all.

Long story short, during the last two classes I ended watching them dance while I was sitting on the floor, angry and frustrated.

Definitely an out of my comfort zone experience, which taught me to let go, to be brave and not to care what the others might think of me. I wasn’t a good modern dancer. So what?

In 2018 I lived in India for 6 months as an exchange student.

Every day in India was an adventure out of my comfort zone. For three months I wasn’t sure of what I was eating – my body wasn’t either and my stomach kept manifesting this confusion.

Also, I wasn’t able to make myself understood. I spoke English, just like the locals I wanted to interact with. And yet, they would not understand what I meant. I discovered that language is a social construction, which is deeply intertwined with environment and culture. So I had to learn from scratch how to communicate concepts and ideas. Such a tough and yet useful mental exercise.

In India, I was terrified the day I decided to rent a motorcycle. Riding a scooter in India, I must be crazy, I thought. I wasn’t.

I was bold. And riding solo across India’s urban jungle allowed me, for example, to visit a local school several times to shoot my documentary. It enabled me to connect with special people, and places.

In 2019 I read my first book in French.

It was Tokyo Electrique, a series of short stories by Japanese authors. Back then my knowledge of the language was quite poor and I was terrified I would be losing my time, as I wouldn’t understand a thing about the book.

I did though. And facing my fear brought me to explore the beauty of an electric Tokyo.

In 2020 I went no poo for six months. Meaning, I washed my hair with water only for 6 months.

I recall I felt ashamed and uncomfortable the first couple of times I went out with my visibly oily hair. Until I figured out that none cared, and that my attitude and my posture in public were so much more important than the way my hair looked.

Photographic evidence of my hair after 4 months of no poo routine.

2021. Colombia. I went out of my comfort zone the first time I decided to stand up and dance salsa, without knowing a single step.

But I also knew that, once again, nobody was going to care about the way I danced. After all, wasn’t everyone going to focus mainly on themselves, just like I was?

I had lot of fun the first time I dance. And now that I know 4 steps (but hopefully tomorrow with my first salsa class everything will change!) I stand up with almost no hesitation the moment I hear the rhythm of salsa.

Barichara, Colombia 2021.

What about 2022?

In 2022 I will watch the new episode of Attack on Titan. That for me will be not a step, but rather a jump out of my comfort zone.

I started watching the series with my ex boyfriend, and the memory of our animé nights together is still so vivid and painful.

I feel there is cement in my soul – to borrow the words of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in “Americanah”.

But if going “Fuori Mura” has taught me something, it is that to move forward, to embrace the future, we have to let go of memories and expectations. Letting go means stop dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Letting go means finding out who you are, and allowing yourself to be, from scratch.

Letting go is painful because when you do let go, hope fades away for a while.

But letting go is also beautiful because it teaches you survival, and resilience. 

-Martina

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