The journey of my life came to a serious turning point if I take into account events that happened in the recent past. I can say this with conviction that it changed my life, the way I perceive things, the way I think and the way I make my choices. Some are short turning points in life that come and go and we barely notice such changes, whereas some are massive changes, that actually turn your direction towards another side and then you have to carefully choose where you shall head next. And my journey is of the latter one.
I was grown up in a very independent house, where from a very young age I was taught freedom of speech, freedom of expression and freedom to choose. The complex part begins when you begin to understand where and when to use these freedoms and where your limitations begin.
9 months ago, I was given the opportunity to study and live abroad. I had an acceptance letter from a top-notch University in Southern Europe, a beautiful apartment to live and an older sibling who was living there with me. I landed in Europe 2 weeks before my 19th birthday. Exploration of the cities, meeting new people, working and sorting out my residence in foreign offices – all this kept me busy as soon as I got there.
Life just started looking so much better within a month. I had learnt to cook, to clean the house, to do laundry, to shop for groceries, to live in a fixed monthly budget – all the important things that I had no idea of for the past 19 years. A couple of months passed by and classes were just about to begin at the university when my father called and said he was coming. My dad arrived and told me what was happening back home and that he suggests that it would be better if I come back home to Pakistan. At that moment, I fell numb. I did not know what to say to my father. He was the only person in my life who knew exactly why I did not want to live in Pakistan because I could not sit and see my parents going through a messy separation or heaven forbid a divorce. I had been tortured and tormented enough in the past many years of my life that I took a step to deal with it by moving to another country.
After moving abroad, for the very first time in my life I felt genuinely happy, I had the best sleep of my life in years. I took care of my body, my health and for once I started taking care of myself. I was the same responsible, disciplined child but I was stress free for the very first time. Hearing my dad’s statement was as if an electric bolt just went through my body. I had no answer for him. As much as I love/d my father, I also wanted a happy life for the both us because I alone knew and understood that he was going through a lot of stress too. So, after a couple of days, I spoke to him and asked him to stay back with me. I showed him how I have blossomed after years in just 3 months of taking care of myself and that he needs a change in life too. But my father did not agree. He simply wanted to know whether I was interested in going back or I am staying back. He also reassured me that the fighting has stopped and that my parents shall get back together very soon and they now wish the children to live with them. I could not believe that of course because I have heard this many times, but then again things go back to where they were before.
I saw myself standing at a point where I had to decide whether I choose my happiness or obey my father. As much as my dad’s proposal sounded like a total disaster, because both of us knew that none of us would be happy back at home; I understood that behind all this was hidden my father’s fear of being lonely. If I and my siblings were all living abroad, who would be there for the man who made me what I am today? As I thought about it for days, I felt stress building up inside of me and I knew exactly why. My dad on the other hand was calm and relaxed, he knew that he had given the proposal to the most obedient of his children and without a shadow of doubt, he was sure that I would get ready to go back home with him. And he was right.
One morning I woke up and walked to his room and told him that I wanted to go home on the initial return flight that I had booked when I left Pakistan three months ago. I spent the next few days emailing the Dean and Faculty of the university that I shall not be studying there anymore. I met all my friends and said my goodbyes.
I remember I boarded the plane all alone; I had no family and no friends by my side. As the security check stamped my exit, I had tears rolling down my cheek. For the first time in my life, I was not happy about the decision that I took. I was not happy about it all. Whatever I had planned about my future, it just started to fade away suddenly. My life took a whole new turn because coming back to Pakistan was not part of the plan, not in my books at least.
I can clearly remember that I was in depression for two whole months when I got back because absolutely nothing had changed at my home, everything was the same. It felt as if I had come back from a long summer holiday back to my same old life, which initiated the depressive thoughts. Slowly and gradually after two and a half months, I started coming back to my usual life routine and everything went back to exactly as it was when I had left Pakistan.
After this experience, what was important for me was that I understand this entire situation and that life takes turns and change takes place, sometimes even when we don’t want to. Even in the face of adversities, how do we deal with missed opportunities, the mistakes, the wrong decisions and regrets of the past; that is what I wanted to achieve once I stabilized myself. Believe me it is difficult, it’s not easy, but I promise it’s achievable.
We must strive to realize that if in our eyes, our past has been messed up; we still possess the power to change our future. We have all the ability to find happiness for ourselves even when circumstances around us are not favorable. It’s just sometimes our wishful thinking comes in between our ability to see the reality and we fail to see what’s actually happening.
Looking in the past always brings us a feeling of regret, pain and things we should’ve done to stop all the doors that closed behind us. We tend to think that if we had taken a specific road in our life, we would’ve been much happier than we are today. If only we would’ve taken certain decisions in a different way, our life’s journey would’ve been better or easier. We all have our stories and we all have our journeys. As much as our life’s journey wounds us, it has the power to heal us too and it makes us strong. Experiences in our life, no matter how harsh they are, they mould us and shape us to be better versions of ourselves. And it’s not just us; each and every person has a variety of good or bad experiences that makes them who they are.
Don’t look at other people’s journey and feel bad for yourself; others have their own journey full of their mistakes and choices that we cannot see. It’s important to know our life’s journey is as important as anyone else’s, because at the end of the day our experiences make us who we are. Therefore, every journey matters.