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By Tess Hayley Mol
I would have been graduating from university with a bachelor’s degree in psychological science this week. Instead I am sitting at the airport in Kuala Lumpur waiting to board my flight to India. 18 months ago, utterly miserable in my being and desperate for something different, I decided to relinquish control from my demons and do the scariest thing I could imagine, give up my “freedom”, deferring from university and moving away from the city and back home to help care for my dying father.
It is the best decision I have made in my short life.
A few days before, after lying in bed on the phone to my mum as she asked me what was wrong and I simply sobbed, unable to answer her, I had a friend ask me what my goals, hopes and dreams were… and I couldn’t answer. I couldn’t imagine my future. I had no goals, no dreams, no hopes. I was sick, I was lonely, I was exhausted and I was totally dissatisfied with what I had always believed to be true… that going to university was right for everyone, you should know what you want to “do” straight out of high school, that you could never feel lonely in a city of millions of lives and lights, that I would be happy when I was thinner, more beautiful, more “perfect”. I felt I was betraying the system by stepping out of it, I felt I was betraying myself for not finishing what i’d started.
None of that was true.
As soon as I decided to step off that path, the dominos of my life began to fall into place and I began to flourish. I regained my health, I was truly well and vibrant and full of life for the first time since I was fifteen. I found love I thought I never deserved in new friendships, family, in a lover, in myself. I flourished creatively, emotionally, spiritually. I am now embarking on my third trip overseas in the last 18 months, which by the end of I will have spent 7 of 16 months overseas exploring, learning and growing in unfamiliar corners of the world finally knowing and honouring myself in that unfamiliarity and unclarity. I don’t have to know anything. I don’t have to beat my chest and pay penance for the things that I have or haven’t done. I don’t have to follow the status quo. I can simply be. I can simply play, grow, learn, watch, laugh, run, dance, sing, draw, explore, adventure, love, love, love, love. That is what life is all about, for me. I have experienced incredible joy and excruciating sorrow, and I found balance honouring every single spectrum of my emotions as they gave me the ability to see how incredible the light dances after darkness, and anticipate the growth and strength that hardship, loss and grief can foster. I have honoured my father’s death by embracing life. I made gentle promises to myself about all of the things I wanted to achieve in these months as I sat on the bus that took me back home 18 months ago, and slowly but steadily I have managed to work towards and achieve every single one of those promises. I am returning to university when I get home in late February, this time to study something i’ve found i’m truly passionate about, in a place that nourishes me, surrounded by people who nourish me, so I can nourish the skills I already have so I can give back to the world in a way that sings to all the cells of my being. I don’t have a bachelor’s degree, yet. I don’t have a job, or even a home. I don’t have lots of money. You can’t see my ribs or my collarbones jutting out like shards of glass anymore. But I can tell you my dreams, I can tell you my goals, I can tell you my hopes. I have seen corners of the world so many haven’t. I have experienced levels of connection to myself, the earth and others words cannot begin to describe.
I am happy, I am in love with life, and I finally know who ‘Tess’ is.