In an ideal world, he gets the degree of his choice and works at a company filled with many opportunities and challenges. Maybe he gets married and considers having kids with his spouse in the foreseeable future. The only thing on his mind is how he can get further ahead in life so he and his family get the best life possible.
That was my ideal world, and it was shattered during my second year at university. I might have been too idealistic then. Or I was just too young to understand. Regardless, that ideal world was forever out of reach and a new destination awaited me. The only problem was this destination was unknown to me as I didn’t even know it existed at the time.
I stood at the crossroad for a long time. Given my lack of experience in life, I didn’t know what path I should take. There seemed to be infinite options in front of me, but none of them called out to me. At least, none of them did initially. Truthfully, I was terrified of all of them because they didn’t resemble the one I had planned in high school. Uncertainty brought out my worst fears and these fears paralyzed me.
Then, anxiety and depression arrived uninvited. They entered through the front door and made themselves at home. I tried to stand up to them and tell them to leave, but I was too afraid. I allowed them to bully me into submission and they haven’t left since. I doubted they planned on ever leaving once they settled down.
Living with these uninvited guests was a whole different experience. It was unpleasant to begin with but, as time went by, I was almost convinced they were a part of me and defined who I was. Meanwhile, they whispered words like coward, loser and other negative terms whenever they got a chance. The sad thing was that I believed their every lie. What other choice did I have?
I called for help. I really did. Yet, no one listened. No one cared. My loved ones thought I was exaggerating. They told me to be a man. They said things that hurt far more than what anxiety or depression ever told me. I wanted the pain to stop so I stopped reaching out. It seemed less painful if I bottle everything within me and build up a wall to keep them in.
Then, I got flashbacks to a darker time, a time I would rather leave behind me if I had the choice. I was even younger then. I kept my troubles to myself, a scenario similar to my time at university. Only, I considered something I didn’t think I was capable of. I contemplated suicide and, once the pressure within reached overwhelming levels, I made my attempt.
Clearly, I failed that time. I also made a vow to never attempt it again. With me reliving the experience a decade later, I didn’t want the same outcome. I might have failed then, but there was no guarantee of failure a second time. While it’s true I made and broke many vows in my life, I, for whatever reason, intended on keeping this vow as it seemed to matter to me far more.
Therefore, I took my first step at the crossroads. I knew not where I was headed, but I cared little at that point. I needed to go somewhere. I needed to distract myself as I searched for answers. I refused to believe that a second attempt on my own life was the only choice I had. When I desired for answers, even the uncertainty that kept me paralyzed couldn’t stop me from advancing.
I took a few steps forward and they felt exhilarating. However, I’m still not out of the blue yet. My two guests still whispered in my ears. They told me to turn back. They told me to give up on the search for answers. For once, I didn’t believe them. I remained at the crossroad long enough. If I stopped then, I would never find the courage to move forward again.