“One fine day, it will be your turn. You will leave homes, cities and countries to pursue grander ambitions. You will leave friends, lovers and possibilities for the chance to roam the world and make deeper connections. You will defy your fear of change, hold your head high and do what you once thought was unthinkable: walk away. And it will be scary. At first. But what I hope you’ll find in the end is that in leaving, you don’t just find love, adventure, and freedom. More than anything, you find you.”
I held onto this quote long before finding enough strength to do the unthinkable: walking away. Leaving. For good.
My best friend gently planted a kiss on my forehead and whispered, “Wow, you’ve done so much in just five years!” I had no idea then what I was going to do, but I knew I was going to do something. Anything. And so I left.
Five years ago, I left the only life I ever knew to pursue the visions that, since a little girl, danced in my head and would soon hold me captive and taunt my every being denying them.
My life at 16 went from safe and secure with endless possibilities to uncertain and unsettled literally overnight. For cultural reasons, I surrendered and I proceeded. That would be my life. I would be a wife. And for 14 excruciating years, I was. Until I set myself free once and for all.
As much as I tried to fight the visions, they continued to slither back up and whisk me away where a girl could only dream. And dream, I did. Silently. There was so much I wanted to do, be, and see once I was old enough, but before I even had the chance, I was submerged into a world and culture I struggled to both be a part of and rebel against. But I endured and I persisted, because culturally, I was doing the right thing, only to realize half of my life later that I was doing the right thing for everyone but me.
The first year was definitely a year of learning and growth in ways unexpected and unfamiliar to me, ways which peeled away the ever so thick layers of myself I once either kept shut, ignored, or just remained blindly unaware of because I was never forced, invited, or encouraged to visit these parts of myself before. I stepped out of my social box and met some amazing women I now call friends. I took my first solo trip across the states for my 30th birthday where I wandered wondrously through New York City and Washington DC. Amazed. Alone. Unafraid.
I learned to truly face myself and learn myself in areas foreign to me. I learned how to hold myself in lonely times and to rely solely on myself during trying times. I learned how to catch myself, to pick myself up off the floor even while gasping for air, to straighten myself back up, to put the shattered pieces back together, to carry on, to move forward. All so challenging, yet amazingly humbling and rewarding.
I continued to venture into the unknown whether it be friends, lovers, cities, and countries, and in every one of them I learned new ways to communicate and feel and be. I met myself in every single person that crossed my path. I collected bits and pieces of myself in everything I passed, all for the little girl with endless dreams and possibilities before it was all stripped away so drastically for a life I knew was never meant for me.
I think back to where I was then and I think about where I am now. I have everything I ever wished for—a home with my daughters filled with peace, quiet, understanding, and love. Wonderful memories and adventures to fill my soul and last a lifetime. Grace and humility because it took a long, hard fight and a whole lifetime to get us here today.
The unknown was frightening, but I broke free. My mind opened, and I took whatever came my way, the good and the bad—everything was a new learning experience that taught me about myself and helped me grow. I became a student not afraid to embrace it. I’ve learned to love my whole story, even if it hasn’t been the perfect fairytale, and I’ll look back on this and smile because it was life and I decided to live it.