leaving a world behind.

One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced on this journey is trying to reconnect with who I am as I move forward. Everything I thought I knew about myself was so deeply ingrained in my previous circumstances and the beliefs I formed through that single perspective. As time goes on, I realize that asking myself “what really makes me happy?” is hard. Ellen and I are both being challenged to spend time with our feelings and acknowledge things that have hurt us in the past in order to find peace, and it’s much easier said than done. The person I used to be no longer exists in this new world I’m creating, and I know that. What I don’t know, is who I will become. And let’s be real, that scares the shit out of me. Admitting at 32 that I have virtually no idea who I am feels a lot like admitting to failure.

I drove up to Tahoe last weekend for my little sister’s bachelorette party, and spent the weekend with 12 girls. My sister has incredible friends in her life, which is something I’ve always admired about her. They are a very large group but everyone cares for each other and they have stayed together for many, many years. Knowing I was in for a crazy weekend, I was looking forward to 8 hours on the road alone, grateful for time to reflect on where daughters started and how far we’ve come. I spent the entire drive singing to old playlists, getting reacquainted to my love for music and the incredibly uneasy feeling of living in the moment.

I had a great time with my sister last weekend, but there were moments where I felt like I had somehow gone back in time. When I moved to LA 5 years ago, I had just met these girls and I was a totally different person back then. It took just a couple fleeting comments for me to realize how they saw me, and how much I have changed. It was like they thought I was someone completely other than myself when they were talking to me. I realized that being immersed in a group of women from my past life in Denver seemed to magnify the out-of-body experience I got from these momentary exchanges.

Realizing there is such a disconnect from the person I used to be and who I feel like now is incredibly jarring. I know I can’t go back to the person I was, and I’m honestly a little bit relieved about that. I wasn’t happy and stress was taking over my life. But I was having trouble understanding what to make of these feelings of isolation as it became clear that people I’ve known for years don’t know me at all anymore, I don’t even know myself anymore. I’d been sitting with this uneasy feeling all week and then something magical happened.

We interviewed an incredible artist named Amanda Maciel Antunes in her studio, where she talked to us about moving to the United States when she didn’t know how to speak English. She threw herself into an experience that most would have quickly overwhelmed most, but rather than giving in to feelings of isolation, she chose to find the magic in solitude. Not speaking the language allowed her to become an observer of her own life. Through this observation she became a new person, choosing to embrace only the positive things around her. She was able to find clarity through solace and from that, created the world she wanted to live in.

I walked away from that interview with a renewed sense of optimism. Rather than giving in to these feelings of isolation as I grow into a new person, I can choose to find the magic in solace. To observe this new world I’m entering and learn from my new experiences, keeping only what brings joy and purpose to my life. And I hope, eventually, find peace with my past. It takes a lot if strength to be vulnerable, and I’ve got a long way to go, but it’s exciting because every day I get a little bit stronger.

leaving a world behind. was originally published in we are all daughters. on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.

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