Growing up, the hardest distance wanting to be realized was the distance between myself and my own freedom. That distance was fear. The fear of not feeling free unless I was or wasn’t someone or something other than myself. For example, when I was younger, I remember wishing I was a boy instead because in my culture being a boy meant being free to do things I wasn’t allowed to do. It’s that scary thought progression: of me never being a boy, hence never being able to make my own choices, being Yemeni (traditional), hence never being free.
But what was freedom? As I got older and met more people, I noticed that everybody whether male or female, Yemeni or not, spoke about wanting to be free.
It took a while for me to gain the courage to dive into my head, grab those fears by the roots and unplant them from my mind. That’s when I finally opened my eyes and mind, when I realized that I needed to let go of that distance between myself and my own freedom, which meant: letting go of my fears.
Finally, I truly believe that freedom is an inner state and a feeling from within, and unless I cannot be a hundred percent true to who I really am, I will never be free.
Coming into realization of this was the hardest part, but what is harder is the sadness I feel looking back at that little girl who thought she was never enough, that she had to change in order to be free, when in truth, she was more than enough.
So now visualizing this journey, I see two versions of myself holding each other, knowing that one is never complete without the other. I hold on to my past self and brace her with the love and confidence she deserved.
I let her know that the toughest pasts shape the perfect present, that the struggles she went through because of her fears are what shaped the strong woman that I am today; that I am now perfect the way I am because of her. That the distance between her and freedom is no longer there, that she was and always will carry freedom within her heart.
Edit: Francesca Cotta