This summer, for the first time in my life, I am feeling like a real adult and I feel proud of myself.
Every week, I work about fifty hours, I take my two year old daughter to swimming classes on Wednesdays, I make healthy food for everyone at home, I practice yoga regularly, I volunteer teaching english to an undocumented woman who fled her country to save her life, I catch up with friends whenever I can and I spend quality time with my loved ones on weekends.
Most importantly, even though I am always tired, I am happy.
If ten years ago somebody had told me that this would be my life in my early thirties, I would have laughed very hard at their faces because back then I didn’t think I would ever be able to live a fulfilling life.
Ten years ago, the mere thought of graduating from college seemed impossible. Since I struggled with depression, high levels of anxiety and an unhealthy relationship with alcohol and drugs, I used to live my life in survival mode. I had no hope for the future. I did not believe in myself.
Although I always knew I had the intellectual capacity to do “big” things, I didn’t think I would ever develop the emotional strength to cope with life. All I wanted to do was escaping. I wanted to scape my own body, my family, my friends, my self. I hated who I was and was convinced that this would never change. I felt unloved because I always sought for love in the wrong places.
I am not sure about how I managed to change my life but I suspect it was a combination of resilience, stubbornness and resignation. I say resignation because after I survived a very serious suicide attempt at the age of nineteen, I was convinced that I would not be the one to decide when and how I would go out. I did not believe in God back then but I did believe in destiny and I knew I was destined to stick around a little longer. Resignation worked well for me.
I decided to write about all of this today because the work that I’m doing this summer has invited me to reflect upon my journey and be proud of where I have gotten. My pride is rooted in a combination of love for my own failures, my desire to tell the people who hurt me that I made it in spite of them, and the fact that today I love myself more than ever.
This journey has not been easy and I know it hasn’t ended. Along the way, I have felt lonely, I’ve made mistakes, I have hurt people and I’ve had to let go of people and habits which I used to think I loved.
But I’ve also looked at healthy love in the face. I have found strength in my wounds. I have found grace and joy in unexpected places. I have learned to own my past and to forgive myself for not being perfect.
I think I began to be happy the day I learned to love my story and stopped comparing myself to everyone else. I think that owning your journey is the only key to success.
Today I know that life is not hard for everybody. Life is just life. Life is full of complications, setbacks and lessons. It is full of joy and surprising challenges. It is full of difficult decisions, painful losses and insightful gains. Life is as much joy as it is sorrow.
So I toast to my life and yours. To your challenges and achievements. To our joys and our pains.
I am thankful for the opportunity of drowning in a hole and getting out of it.
Today, all the old confusion makes absolute sense.