In 2013, it was year of big change for me.
I moved out of home for the first time to live in a completely new city for university, away from all my friends and family. I drove down not knowing where I was going to live and slept on my friend’s floor until I finally found a place and begun my year as a new student.
A couple of months into my degree, I felt unrest, but most noticeably, I felt very much unhappy. I woke up dreading to go to university and felt uninspired by the lectures. I also couldn’t make any friends there as everyone knew each other and had their own cliques, so I was lonely too. Most of all, I couldn’t shake the feeling of heaviness on my spirit, a feeling I had recognized before and knew was from the Holy Spirit. It was a gentle but sure voice inside of me telling me that this was not where I was supposed to be in life right now.
I decided to drop out of University. It was something I was very sure of because my instincts had never failed me. However, it was also a very difficult decision to make because my mum, who worked so hard to bring me to New Zealand and give me a good life, was so proud of me and I knew telling her this would crush her. The night I told her the news, I was on my knees praying and crying that she would be okay about this. It was the toughest phone call I had to make. But things just became worse from there.
Living in Wellington was miserable for me. I got into an argument with my flatmate about my decision to drop out which he strongly disagreed with and said that university was essential to a good future. I had an on-off relationship with a man from Wellington with whom I fell in love with, and the city was tainted everywhere with memories that stabbed my heart every time I walked out my door. It was hard for me to find a job, and when I did, I was bullied by a girl and a lot of drama ensued with my co-workers. It was hard for me to pay rent and eat, and I ended up hungry more than I care to admit. I didn’t have a purpose and felt completely lost. I spiraled into depression again and took to partying and drinking every weekend to numb the pain.
I loved Wellington and always will, but it didn’t love me. My mum, observing my situation, told me that if I couldn’t find a new apartment, I would have to move back home. I was stubborn and picked up a fight with her. I refused. But deep down in my heart, I knew there was nothing for me there anymore. In the car ride home, with all my belongings packed in the car, I couldn’t help but feel even more miserable. I was coming back to a toxic home as a depressed, unemployed dropout. It was hard for me. But at the same time, and this was so unusual, I felt an incredible sense of peace that I was coming back to where I was supposed to be.
Since moving back to Auckland, I was put back on the right path again. I actually came alive again. I did a counseling course which partly inspired my journey to self-love and which essentially changed my emotional health forever. I launched The Lilac Road, a dream of mine that had been stirring in my heart for years, and the responses I got were overwhelming. I found a well-paying job which enabled me to save up in a short time to travel to Europe solo for the first time, and it was incredible. Most of all, I was surrounded by my loved ones again and it made me realize how much I loved and missed them. All this inspiration lead me to realize what I wanted to do with my life. I found a purpose. I didn’t want to go to university and work in a corporate job. I knew my passions for humanitarian work. I wanted to inspire girls and breathe words of life into them through The Lilac Road. I wanted a career in a non-profit organization like Amnesty and stand up for human rights as a living. It took a long time to figure it out, but I got there.
Although I absolutely hated the thought of moving back to Auckland, in hindsight it was actually one of the best decisions I made for my life. It’s funny, but the year before I went to university, I prayed to God about the decision. Clearly, and repeatedly, he told me a firm, “No.” But I stubbornly went ahead and did it anyway. The time, money and trouble I would have saved if I just listened to Him in the first place! It was like God was telling me, “I let you have it your way. I let you move down to Wellington and have these experiences. But come back to me now. Come back to the plans that I have for your life.” Is God speaking those words to you now?
It’s a scary, scary thing to follow your heart. It might take you to places far away from home, it might ask you to jump into a black unknown and swim in untread waters. Sometimes things won’t turn out the way we want them to, and living the dream life will look nothing like what we imagine in our heads. It’s can be easy to become discouraged and fall back into a meaningless 9-5. Not many people are brave enough to take that risk and forge their own path. But inside of you is a dream worth pursuing, no matter what the sacrifices may be. It’s a dream that deserves to be awoken and lived out. Don’t be a cooker-cutter mold of someone who forwent their passions and settled for a life of mediocrity instead. I urge you to find out what it is that makes you come alive, and do everything you can in every part of your life to bring you closer to that dream. The sacrifices and hard decisions you have to make will be worth it, and the rewards will be greater because it it.
The decisions we have to make to follow our hearts will always be the hardest ones to make. Not everyone will understand it. Some people may even be openly against it. But your dreams are not there for them to understand. It is there for you to believe in and pursue. I know that not many people were happy with the decisions I’ve made in order to follow my heart. “But where are you going to get money? Where’s your degree? Where’s your job?” (I actually get a lot of condescending comments about me being unemployed while pursuing my dream job at a non-profit. I actually got called a ‘bum’ once). But just because people don’t see your dreams the way you do, doesn’t mean you can pack up your bags and hide those dreams in the back of your mind. The greats of the world pushed forward despite discouragements and set-backs, and it is precisely because they believed in the beauty of their dreams that they are the legends they are now.
Don’t let anyone hold you back. The world needs your passion. God has placed everything inside of you – strength, determination, courage, sacrifice and intuition – to achieve what He has called you to do.
“The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before.”