The story that embarrasses me the most is the story I’ve been telling for the last decade. It’s the story of when I was reborn. This is not new or original or particularly special, but it is mine and like many stories of this nature, it starts with love.
Actually, it starts with heartbreak and a week of crying in parking lots, but the grief of those moments was born from love as well. I just didn’t know it at the time.
I don’t remember what kind of girl I was before I turned 21. I think I was trying so hard to find myself that I willingly got lost in a whirlwind of social constructs and religious expectations. The truth is, it’s a lot easier to try and fit into who they say you should be than forge a path of your own. And that was quite definitive of Isa 1.0 — she was an embarrassingly big fan of easy.
I was also way too certain of things, which probably gave God a lot to laugh about. I was certain that I was going to get married. I was certain about who I was going to end up with. I was certain that all this would come to pass even before I turned 30 years old. All of these things eventually got knocked so far out the park that I didn’t think I would ever recover.
But I did.
Like anyone who sets out on the hero’s journey, watching my life unravel became the ultimate catalyst for profound and meaningful change.
I am writing this today because it seems important to say that becoming a woman didn’t begin the day I got my period or the moment I learned about the opposite sex. Becoming a woman happened the year I started recognizing that I had true agency over my life. It commenced when I chose to participate in the hard work of building an identity that was fully, completely, and wholly my own.
The knowledge that I could be exactly who I wanted to be without having to apologize for it empowered me enough to help rebuild the world. This is the same story that can be found at the heart of gender equality, #TimesUp, Malala Yousafzai, and a hundred broken glass ceilings. This is what a revolution can run on.
Sometimes I hate the idea that a boy and a broken heart got me here. Sometimes I wonder if I could’ve just made it on my own. But that’s why I go back to love and credit it for the best of my becoming. I needed something extreme to happen to realize that easy was a dangerous path. I needed to wake up to the power that came with choosing a life of my own – and only love could’ve made me see that. Only love could’ve invited me out of my self-made illusions and into the light of something real.
Reality was messy and broken yet teeming with all the good stuff like grace and hope and life. Reality nudged me out of the past so I could take up space in the present. Reality made me go out and find things that made me happy again. It was relentless but it was also every kind of right.
The story that brings me the most joy today is the story of every other girl around me. The story of deliberate women who move with courage and chase after their dreams; they speak kindness into the lives of others and recognize their ability to build a life of their own choosing. These women are pulsing with the spirit of their foremothers. These women are multi-faceted forces to be reckoned with. These women are free.
My good friend, Den, just got her heart broken and she’s wondering where the road lead will go from here. I want to tell her that it is in love’s greatest interest to bring her to the best of who she is. I want her to imagine getting to the end of her sorrow with her head held high, knowing she was the epitome of strength. I want to say that the next few chapters are so important and that if she remains stuck in grief, she might miss it.
But I don’t.
I wait instead to see the story she will write and somehow I know, in my heart, that it is going to be a good one. That it is going to be the best one yet.
Featured image by Madel Crudo
When she isn’t writing, Isa Garcia is a teacher in a private college in BGC. She is also the author of Found: Letters on Love, Life, & God, published by OMF Literature. You can read more of Isa’s thoughts and her writing at her blog, Isa Writes.