This past week was a week from heaven. I know life is never perfect, but that entire week was just a series of moments I will cherish and hold close.
Canada Day weekend we drove out to Gros Morne National Park in western Newfoundland and met up with several of my friends. We hiked lots, ate a lot of junk food, explored the tiny towns and ate at some of the cutest restaurants. Every night, we slept like rocks because our eyes and bellies were saturated with so much goodness. It was nothing short of wonderful, until the very last evening when I received a very hurtful text. I cried, went to bed early, mauled it over in my head and wondered if I should continue to tolerate the verbal abuse I’ve been receiving for the last two years. It dawned on me that regardless of my intentions and I seem to always hurt people as I try to live my life with complete sincerity and honesty and to the fullest possible extent. It was just ironic.
When I was in grade 10, I wore hand-me-downs, had bushy eyebrows, a hint of a mustache, hijab and no friends. I blamed the cultural restrictions imposed on me had me trapped in an external body that I did not identify with. They wouldn’t let me be who I wanted to be. In a Civics and Careers class where we were asked to fill out one of those quizzes about what we valued most in our lives, most people got 1. Family, 2. Friends, 3. Careers. My scores were very different, I got: 1. Freedom, 2. Autonomy and 3. Independence! It was very telling of what I desperately wanted then and very true of what I value greatly now.
Those three things became the defining values that I strived for but they came with surprising virtues and life lessons.
The desire to live with complete freedom gave me the chance to set my own boundaries and my own rules. I learned the difference between being obedient to others versus being conscientious of life and decisions. My love for complete anonymity hit me in the face when I moved to Goose Bay, where everyone always knew everything about everyone. It taught me to check my internal compass whenever I did something that made me question if I would regret it later. I became completely honest with myself about my intentions and actions. My obsession for independence taught me my most treasured lesson in life, which was to ask for help when I needed it. I didn’t want others to control me but I learned that asking for help means you can also get many options and you can take the direction that accounts for a variety of solutions for different outcomes.
My relationship with myself has improved as a result of facing challenges on my own. I’ve learned to forgive myself for my shortcomings and to stop dwelling on the past and to instead to try and work toward a better future one tiny step at a time. I have so much more to learn and experience and I’m excited to see what the future holds.
Last week was the first time in a VERY long time I felt absolute bliss. We took an entire week off, made a massive spread every morning, packed our bags for the park and read our books in a hammock. Every evening we made supper and on the weekend we got together with friends. I couldn’t believe how I felt. The defining moment was when I brought out my praying rug and the abaya my mother made me for when I prayed and showed Ty how I pray. I was so happy that I felt so proud of my religious identity. It almost shocked me.
No matter what has happened in the last few years of my life that made me question everything, now is the first time in the entirety of it that I don’t feel ashamed of who I am. I own every part of my story and live and breath it because it’s where my strength and drive comes from.
Freedom – Autonomy – Independence