The morning I wore my older sister’s shirt to school is still etched in my mind. At the time, it felt like the best decision I had made that day as I walked into school. I had a different air of confidence in my strides.
As I came towards the assembly line where my classmates were already lining up, I saw their faces. All eyes were suddenly on me, but not in a comforting way.
Several girls whispered to each other and continued to glance at me. Perhaps I did look ridiculous in that over sized dark purple t-shirt. But the most disappointing reaction of all was James Atkins’s, who didn’t even bat an eyelash.
It is moments like these that I sometimes reflect upon when I feel out of place. This year was certainly one of many adjustments in my life. The sudden move to Pakistan last year, my home country where I had never lived before, was one of the biggest changes.
I didn’t know what to expect since it was a very, very unexpected move for me. At the time, I was facing many trials in life and had to walk away from something.
It was the biggest decision I had to make in my entire life, one that I had debated in my mind a thousand times. But I knew one day I would realize it was for the better. And indeed, it was.
I was completely shattered from inside, but had to carry on and brave a smile on my face. The first few months of being here were a blur, but I refused to keep my life at a stand still. I applied for jobs here and within a few weeks, got an offer and started working.
Suddenly, I felt human again with a routine and something to wake up to every single morning. I eventually regained the confidence I thought I had lost.
We find ways to make ourselves feel at home again, whether it’s with that chipped mug that you had since childhood or perhaps an overworn shirt that is still so comfy, you can’t bring yourself to discard it.
The environment here was certainly different from what I had grown up in. I was so used to being around so much diversity. Everyone at my office had the same mentality, one that didn’t match my own.
I would often ask myself what I was doing there, but kept thinking this was part of the adjustment process. I didn’t want to become a chameleon, nor did anyone expect me to. I came to realize that having this exposure was vital to the adjustment process.
In a way, I was glad I had gotten out of my protective bubble. I had never interacted with people my age here in Karachi before this, apart from a few of my relatives. Although there were differences no doubt, I told myself it was more important to focus on our commonalities.
A few months ago, I made another decision in my life which I had never thought I would experience – teaching! It was a completely new challenge and I didn’t even know where to begin when I started. But like everything that first seems impossible, things suddenly begin to fall into place.
There comes a point when you realize that everything will be okay. Some nights will feel as though your entire body is on fire from the pain and betrayal, but then it is the resilience we develop that allows us to survive. The jagged cuts in the heart won’t ever be mended, but stitched over time – a temporary yet permanent blockage to the everlasting wounds.
The most important lesson I can take out of my life lessons this year was that humans are incredibly adaptable species. Many of us have different fears and we live and eventually die without ever facing them.
But sometimes it’s okay to walk away from something or someone you thought you can’t live without.
It’s okay to be the first one to admit you love someone.
It’s okay to tell the truth, even if you know it would hurt someone.
It’s okay to express your emotions to someone and tell them how you really feel, even if you are unsure they wouldn’t like what you have to say.
Everything is temporary, including our feelings at a certain point in time. Learn to love and respect yourself, which will automatically reflect upon how your relationships are.
At the end of the day, we only have one life. If it is spent living in fear and indecisiveness, it is not one that would be fulfilling. We need to start adopting more positivity within ourselves and think about the best possible outcomes of a situation instead of focusing on the worst.
Acceptance is one of the deepest and challenging feelings. Sometimes we can’t change people or situations, but eventually realize it was for the best.
Once you embrace your situation and feel the anger, pain and betrayal with every ounce of energy that you didn’t even dream you had and finally, finally reach acceptance – it will change your outlook in life.
You realize that you were stronger than yesterday and will survive another year, embracing challenges and new experiences more readily than ever before.