On paper, this was the most difficult time in my life. But in reality, I had never, ever felt more at peace. I had no idea whether I would be homeless 2 months from now, if I could stay in college, or where in the country I would end up, but I was utterly and unshakably calm. I had myself. For the first time ever, I had chosen myself.

I felt like I had lost my family, but I quickly realised that I was surrounded by people who still loved me. Their love is the reason why my story turned out the way it has.

You know that scene in Tangled where Rapunzel has just left the tower and she’s charging across the grass shouting for joy one minute, then sobbing facedown the next? Yeah, that’s what it’s like.

There is so much to heal from, but all of it frees more of me to step further into life.

I have been out and independent for a little over a year now, and all this new space has showed me where I need to heal. The idea that everyone else but me was the authority over my life had sank into my blood. I was terrified and ashamed not just of being myself, but allowing myself to be a person with wants and rights and value.

So I set out on a mission: to get to know myself. I challenged myself to do one tiny thing that scared me a day, no matter how awkward it felt. I explored what I liked, trying a dozen items of clothes on every shopping trip and holding secret dance parties in my room. I insatiably researched every story of someone leaving a similar background that I could find, drinking in hope. I learned to take power back for my body through pole dancing and tai chi. I reflected for hours a day on all that had happened and went to therapy, healing one realisation at a time.

The last year has been one of really tender, transformative, heartbreaking, joy-filled healing and self-liberation. I am not just becoming who I want to be, but who I’ve always really been.

Every day, I wake up with a joy and gratefulness for the little things in life. I get to choose what I wear and what I eat, dance and drink how I want, choose my friends, get to know other people with an open heart, and try new things.

I’m currently in my 3rd year of college, studying abroad in New Zealand. I’m studying Psychology and Sociology and hope to become a clinical/community social worker, but as my blog has grown into a website, I also want to spend my time writing… and hopefully one day speaking!

After losing love and connection with the community I grew up with, I am learning to redefine love, feel it for my friends, and allow myself to trust in it.

After spending so long estranged from my true self, I am stepping fully into everything I always was, learning about who she is, and loving her best I can.

Instead of death, I found life, peace, love, home, healing, liberation, and empowerment beyond my wildest dreams.

I write about my lessons in authenticity, healing, liberation, and self-empowerment to be a lighthouse for everyone in a situation like mine. Over the years, I’ve gotten so many messages from people in similar circumstances saying, I thought I was alone, or I hope I can do that for myself one day. And you can. You can, you can.

Most of all, I write because, no matter who you are, we all want to be our most authentic selves, to let love in, to find the power in ourselves. I offer the lessons I’ve learned so that other humans out there might feel empowered too.