So much has happened, and yet it feels like nothing has happened at all. I know I am different, but at the same time I feel like I’m going back home exactly the same.
I have learned the value of friendship. They are my family, these bunch of strong minded beautiful women who kept me going when I was on my knees ready to give up. They lifted me up, they encouraged me – they called out lies I said and gave me the strength to stand up for myself.
This year I’ve had to defend what I value and believe in so many times. I’ve had to take a stand. I’ve had to make hard decisions I never wanted to make. I’ve had to cut loose things from my past that were inconspicuously dragging me under. I’ve had to move forward.
I learned this year just how strong I am. Not because I’m unbreakable, but because when I am broken I recreate myself into something new. Something wholly different and just as beautiful.
This year I learned what I valued. In a world that ignored me, I learned to make myself heard. I found my voice, and I used it to make myself heard.
I travelled around the world, I met some amazing people – friends who, while I may never see them again, will be tattooed on my heart for the rest of my life. I was uplifted by strong women of all ages who travel solo, tattoo themselves and cut their hair “too short” – together we make up a kind of tribe, wandering the world searching for a place to call home.
Strangers have become friends, I’ve learned to dance and cook and laugh and drink, to throw darts and sneak into skyscraper buildings. I’ve stayed out until 4am and curled up to sleep 9pm. I learned to be alright by myself, I learned not to fear what others thought of me and to be comfortable letting my hair down…literally. I’ve seen works of art people dream about, I ate Spaghetti in Rome and watched sunsets in German mountains. Part of me wants to say that I gained so much strength, but I think it was always there – I just had to discover it.
This year has been one of the hardest, most troubling, most stressful, most tear filled years of my life – and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It has given me so much and has taken me from the girl who got on a plane out of her city to the woman who will return to it.
I am infinite. I love deeply, cry with anger and walk for miles while praying out to a God I know is listening. I sing songs that no one will hear and paint pictures that no one will see. I build dreams that only I know will come true. Before me there is a path that only I know the direction of, and that’s okay. I no longer need the approval of others in order to walk it. I am fear, I have faced terror and it has been tattooed onto my heart, a talisman of things overcome and conquered.
I am not to be trampled, looked over or pigeonholed into the plan and ideals of someone else. Life challenged me to a test of courage and fortitude – and I conquered it. I am strength, broken and bleeding, tear filled eyes and a grin on my face. Because I know the end of this story: none of us come out alive. But, at the end, some of us will have some pretty amazing stories to tell.