Every year I look forward to the self-reflection that a birthday invites, but this year was different. For the first time, in a long time, I procrastinated writing, and at one point, considered not writing anything at all. Some of it was lingering fatigue from an exhausting year, but, most of it was because I knew that once I let my guard down, spewed thoughts would tarnish my blank canvas with unrestrained truth.
It’s funny looking back, especially on my travels. What I believed was a quest for self-discovery and a hunt to resolve my deepest questions, turned out to be a game crafted by fear itself. With cunning intention, it latched onto my adventurous spirit and convinced me that living out of a backpack, surviving frugally off minimal sleep and food, and sleeping alone in the mountains, outside and inside of 7-11’s, and god-knows-where-else was the answer to unrestricted freedom. Granted, these adventures provided memories that will last a lifetime, but were fueled by a desperate need to escape.
Compulsive disorders, no matter which form they take shape, are a monster. A monster that held me prisoner within myself. A disease that tried to kill me, twice.
However, there is exceptional beauty in crashing so hard that we break, and sometimes we don’t just break, we shatter. Only then, after substantial rest, are we forced to rebuild upon whatever piece we believe is the best version of our true self, a new foundation that will support who we are, or even, who we want to be.
Despite still being smothered in a quilt of exhaustion from what resulted in “overtraining syndrome,” an internal injury from years of overexertion with imbalanced rest and nutrition, I cannot help but feel infinitely grateful. For all the times I’ve fallen, a hand has picked me up, brushed me off, and encouraged me to keep going. Most ironically, the thing that I once feared I now have no choice but to embrace, time, and its exceptional ability to heal all wounds.
Buried beneath these words are fossils of pain and struggle, sadness and defeat, hope and faith. Twenty-six was a year stamped with exceptional adversity. However, as I’ve learned time and time again, even the darkest clouds and heaviest of rains pass eventually and a rainbow is never long behind. If we are lucky, beneath the stream of color is a treasure far more valuable than we could have ever imagined: a story.
A story that could someday help someone, or, could even save someone’s life.