It’s where we go, and what we do when we get there, that tells us who we are – Joyce Carol Oates
I still have blurry memories of my first visit to London.. Amongst the other countries that we visited during that euro tour I can confidently say that London was my least favorite. And so it has always been – until lately.
The desire to do my masters dwelled within even before I finished grad school and was followed by a series of trial and error episodes. The excitement to pursue my Post Graduate degree would severely escalate during certain periods and would roll down the hill during others. The priority list was constantly shuffling over the past few years. But God works in His own mysterious ways. I got into the university for which I tried for 3 years & ended up rejecting the offer of acceptance that they sent. At a point, I thought the fog in life was finally lifting when instead I ended up facing thick, dark clouds of despair that seemed endless to pass by. I had never contemplated going and living abroad to do my degree and yet here I am.
I feel like I am a living example of the fact that sometimes God gives you what you think is best for you only so that you can realize that it isn’t. Moreover, if you somehow find peace with His plans He eventually gives you people and opportunities that you had never dreamed of.
Although I still have a significant amount of time left to spend here, but when I do look back from where I started I feel like I’ve come a really long way. There were good days and bad days, exciting days and challenging days and one thing that remained constant was the amount of lessons it taught me – the amount of reality checks it gave – the amount of experiences that it brought with itself. There were days (and initially there were quite a few) when I wanted to quit everything and run back home. But today when I look back, I don’t regret a single minute spent here no matter how difficult it seemed back then. I’m grateful I lived through every bit of what each day brought.
If I had to define my stay in London in one line I would say – it is my chance to be myself. Here, I am on my own. Except for fulfilling the set of basic expectations, I need not please anyone except for myself. And that has made me realize a fundamental thing about life – you are who you choose to be – literally. Whatever way I treat myself is exactly how I think, it’s exactly how I feel – it is exactly who I become for the rest of that day. And credit goes to this city as well, which welcomes you to start over and discover the actual ‘thing’ within yourself – it allows you to go wild in imagination and breathe freely without the fear of being judged or looked down upon. Nevertheless, the onus to be worthy of it lies with every individual – you must show that you are worthy of being given this chance. And I think the only way you can do that is by making the most out of it and extracting as much positivity as you can.
There’s so much more to come in life and yet the most important and perhaps ironic thing is that this life is but a temporary phase. So far, this part of my life has given me immense time for self-reflection, it has defined ‘perseverance’ and ‘patience’ in an entirely new capacity. It has taught me not to only value but also to realize those things/people/relations that actually matter – that will last till you last – that deserve no compromise. It has taught me to look at myself through a different set of eyes. It has made me stronger. It has made me believe in myself and in what I owe to myself; what I deserve – what I can expect.
Again, life is but a temporary phase. It is no race. It is no challenge. It is not about the desperation to reach somewhere. It should be looked upon as a willful walk in the park on a bright sunny day. One that you can enjoy at every step – because at every step you are making a choice. From choosing to wake up and get out of bed to coming back at night and crashing on it. Every single thing you do, look at, listen to, think about, speak, work on, don’t work on, fight for or quit – everything is a choice that you alone make and face the consequences of. And I have learnt to choose what keeps my mind at ease, my soul content and me happy.