Open Cage, Exit Bird

I come from a home where I was not given the freedom of choice. I was told what to say, what to believe, where to study and what to study. The first couple of years of my life I believed it was okay, because I didn’t know much. However, as my life in high school started shaping me and molding me into who I am today I started trying to go against’ the grain. Nevertheless, when you come from a house of old-fashioned people with authoritarian believes you don’t have much space to spread your wings. Of course that didn’t stop me from trying. I was forced to go to one university and when I tried to transfer to a better one, I was denied that choice. I was forced to study one thing and when I wanted to change majors I was forced to feel ashamed so as to having to have a double major in order to actually do what I wanted.  When it came to choose a graduate school and a major for my studies I was held back. I was constantly told to stay at home and to do what they wanted me to do. Yet this time I refused, I finally opened my wings and flew. I am here now, and I assure you that I never want to go back.
In this process of adjusting to my new life here in NC and learning how to be a graduate student I have found the one thing I have never had. The freedom of choice. Back home I was never asked what I wanted to do or how I felt about things. Instead I was prescribed a personality, a role, a strength, a list of abilities and a set of beliefs; all which were never mine. I realized, a little too late, that these forced ideas of me created in me an inescapable anxiety that drove me to self harm and suicide attempts. I looked for ways of communicating who I was and what I really was but in my home I never found ears to listen to me. Instead I had comments such as “you’re young, you’ll grow out of it”, “you’re being dramatic” or my favorite “you’re just emulating what your friends say.” In each statement I was denigrated and made to feel ashamed of who I was simply because it didn’t fit the lifestyle of my parents or because they didn’t have the ability to accept me for who I am.
We can’t all live out of dreams and hope, and so while I waited for my time to fly away from the nest I found like minded friends. I studied and prepared for a battle that I knew would take place sooner than later when I left home. Today, I am still in this battle where my parents believe that I will change and become like them; never knowing that I can never be anybody but myself. And that no matter how they see me, I finally like myself. I no longer struggle with having to suppress myself, to catch every word I say and be careful of saying too much. I am finally able to breathe and be happy as I was intended to be.
In my new home, because home is where the heart can rest, there is no judgment for what my mother would call ‘hippie thoughts’, where I do not suffer from ‘being perfect syndrome’ and am not forced to live up to the expectations of other people. And I am glad because I have finally found happiness. I am free to choose my life as I would like it to be; even if people don’t agree with it. I am able to say what I want to say; even if people don’t want me to say it. I am able to believe what I want; even if its not what I was taught. In short, I have found peace with who I am; I am working towards being who I want to be and forget who I was forced to be.
One thing I learned and I hope it resonates with you as you read this: No one can force their life on you. No one can make you believe in something you don’t believe in. No one can make you think or be one way just because this other person is that way. You, as a human being are worth as much as the person standing next to you and your right to live as you choose is as valuable as that other person’s life choices. Just because you were taught one set of values, or a doctrine or a particular way to live it does not mean you have to live by those things if you don’t feel it. Each person makes their choice, each person takes a path; don’t ever let anyone make that choice for you or guide you through the wrong path because you didn’t have the courage to see your value as a person. You are not anyone’s clone. You are not anyone’s doll. You are you, beautiful you. And people have to accept that.

Signing off, TWS

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