1 Among 7,500,000,000

When I was 5, I would cheer on raindrops as they fell down the car window and raced one another. I made dance routines and fought with my brother in the backseat. It was my small magical paradise.

When I was 10, I would race my bike against my best friend while he’d sprint by my side. We would usually end up tied as we caught our breath in the humid Panamanian air. As we made our way back home we’d pick mangoes from trees to later make a vinegar and salt salad with. The sliced mango pieces dripping with vinegar filled our stomachs with acid, and it was the sweetest taste after an afternoon of busy biking.  

When I was 15, I realized that trees were my safe place as I’d spent most of my afternoons climbing them, both alone or with friends. We bravely dared climbing small, thin trees which violently shook in the strong winds. Once we conquered the top of the canopy, both fear and admiration over what we had just achieved overwhelmed us. I experienced the loss of a childhood love, a missed opportunity.

When I was 18, I knew what it felt like to love but also to feel heartbreak, to lend a helping hand while wanting nothing in return. I knew what it felt like to see the beauty of an unloved animal be adopted into a loving family; to admire children’s smiles even while they fought through hunger and violence. I’ve missed, lusted, admired, experienced hurt like no other, but I’ve also risen and learned from it. At 18 I moved away from home to a different country on my own, adventure and mystery crying out for my young soul.

At 21 and a half, I’ve cried. I’ve stressed. I’ve been frustrated and lonely. I felt as though my spirit had no saviour. I have lost the connection between my mind and my soul; my mind and my body. I have loved. I have fallen. I have made wrong choices. But I’ve also learned to breathe. To admire, to love myself. To appreciate the world I’ve been given a life to live in.

I have learned to fight for myself, for others, and for the world. I have broken free from my mental coffin that barricaded me from being who I was meant to be. I am still crawling out, fighting to fulfil my own admirations and hopes. In my years of life, I have been brave in my own way: bungee jumping, getting out of bed on a bad day, admitting my flaws but flourishing and adoring them, seeking help, love, and consolation from loved ones but also learning to give it back.

In the name of love, in the name of bravery, and in the name of life, I am a proud 1 among 7,500,000,000. I may only be a voice among a crowd, a ponytail among loose hair, a smile among frowns. But at least I am here, and I couldn’t be prouder of the path I have undergone thus far. I will have bad days, good days, ‘meh’ days; I’ll welcome them all with open arms.

You must go on adventures to find out where you belong

Sue Fitzmaurice

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