I am at a crossroads in my journey.
An unexpected fork in my path appeared suddenly last week.
And now I am stuck, frozen; one with the soil and the roots beneath me.
It’s like I’m staring at the open mouth of a viper, as its tongue tries to slash me.
I feel trapped in an invisible bubble that suffocates me as I jump in fear of the forked tongue from this snake as it catapults towards me, whipping glass instead of flesh as my heart races and my body nearly crumbles.
I feel trapped in one breath but thankful in the next that the glass stopped this rapid beast from my nightmares before it could kiss me with pain and tragedy.
Pain and tragedy because both prongs of this fork mean compromise, giving up, backing down, not finishing.
Either prong I choose, failure will be left in my footprints.
As I reel myself together, forcing the roots that strangle me to this spot to give just a millimeter of leeway, my feet remember how to move.
One step. Two.
Then three as I pull my chin up and snag my eyes on the beast waiting for me to move.
It wants me to break first.
I just want to keep going.
Because I am no longer who I used to be.
Who I used to be would have been swallowed whole by that slithering beast of nightmares, poisoned with its forked tongue, split in half, left to bleed out on the side of the trail.
That glass surrounding my invisible bubble didn’t spring up overnight.
I may not have known it was strong enough to shelter me from the whiplash.
But it was there.
Proof of how far I have come.
While failure will be left in my wake, passion and purpose lie ahead.
But I know, that if I stay frozen on the side of this mountain, frozen in fear and the unknowns of what awaited me, I know that I will not be leaving this mountain.
But I also know, that whatever prong of this fork I choose, will reveal a truth about me.
One that I am not sure I am ready to set free.
One that will uncover the root of who I am.
A truth that I have been on my knees digging for, crying for, begging for…fighting for…for years.
If I was anyone else, this decision probably would have been easier.
But from where I am sitting, I am smack dab in the middle of the teeter-totter from my nightmares. One step in either direction and I will be flung to the ground, my heart skidding to a halt as my exterior takes a beating.
But it’s not the exterior that is causing me such grief. It’s not the exterior that the world sees and judges with snickering words of toxin.
It’s the root of who I am that is causing me such grief. It’s the root that is clawing its way for me to return to it.
The root that I buried when the innocence of my childhood was ripped from me.
It’s beckoning me home.
This fork was inevitable.
I just wish I wasn’t so conflicted.
I have been drowning trying to get back to that root, and now that I’m faced with it, I don’t know if I can trust what awaits me there.
I don’t know if what awaits me there is everything I ever hoped for, or everything I have been running from.
My whole life – well, my whole life up until two years ago – I never finished a single thing. I was a chronic project abandoner.
And up until two years ago, I thought it was just because of who I was.
A failure who didn’t deserve the pride of accomplishment. The pride of seeing something through.
But when I finally understood my purpose two years ago, I stopped.
I shut that cycle down.
And I kept going.
I was determined.
I could taste the finish line. I could feel the goosebumps full of pride.
But, it’s two years later and I am nowhere near the finish line.
At least, I thought I wasn’t.
When that fork appeared, I jumped. I didn’t think twice. I knew it was the right decision.
I didn’t know why it was the right decision.
I just knew that, for the first time in my whole life, I didn’t feel an ounce of failure.
I didn’t feel like I was running backward instead of forward over the finish line.
The glass surrounding my invisible bubble was proof of the progress I have made.
Forks that have come before, pushed me into a downward spiral that took me too long to recover from, smashing any boundary I had erected and hurdling me back to the shadows to drown again.
But each fork that came before, and the decisions I was forced to make, guided me to this one that I am finding myself ready to confront head-on.
Guiding me to this fork where I find myself with my fists up, ready to battle for the finish line I can not just taste, but feel as it punches my gut, making it known that the checkered flag is waiting for me on the other side.
My checkered flag.
The checkered flag that I have spent many nights searching the light at the end of the tunnel for.
The checkered flag that is waiting to celebrate with me. Waiting for me to start the rest of my life.
Since 2018, I have been searching for who I am.
I have been thrown too many, and yet not enough times to the pits of hell whenever my pandora’s box decides it’s time for me to remember a memory I locked away.
I have seen the unfiltered, pure royal blue sky that swims above the stormy clouds when every inch of my skin pops with goosebumps; when every cell vibrates my body to life; when every gear in my brain works together to lift the fog.
I have spent the last 4 years fighting to figure out who I am.
Because whom I was becoming, was the girl from my nightmares.
I have clawed every scrap of information about who I truly am – away from the layers of cement I buried to cover that pandora’s box.
Information of who I truly am and not what I was grown to believe; not who I thought I was supposed to be.
But I hit a wall somewhere. I stalled. I drifted from shore to shore in the darkness of my brain, brainwashing myself to believe that maybe I deserve that cycle of failure.
That maybe I am only worthy of the poison the beast of my nightmares offers. That I am not worthy to decide which prong to take. Especially not on my own.
That I must submit and be grateful I am still alive.
But this fork that came into my life like a wrecking ball to either shatter the progress I have made or prove that I am no longer weak – was exactly what I didn’t know I needed.
It took the death of my best friend two years ago to force me to let go
Let go of every single chip on my shoulder.
Let go of every chain that I have carried for years. Every pain, scar, wound.
As I faced the snake with its forked tongue ready to attack, I didn’t know the glass was ready.
But I hoped it was.
Because while this snake may be a beast from my own personal nightmares, this snake has no idea of the journey I have been on.
And this invisible bubble that used to suffocate me, is being replaced by a material that gives me breath, energy, and power.
Two months ago, I would have folded. Thrown down my cards and ran away.
Because two months ago, this decision would have meant they were right.
It would have meant that the demons from that pit of hell I used to find myself in, won.
One month ago, I may not have run, but I would have embraced one prong fully, erasing the other from existence wholly.
Because one month ago, this decision would have meant only one could exist.
It would have meant that I would be sacrificing one vision of my life for another.
But today, I didn’t know what decision I needed to make before writing this.
Because today, right now, I had to wait for my words to flow and wash away the wrong decision.
Today, right now, I understand the decision I need to make.
It’s the only decision I need to make.
Because it’s the only one I can’t seem to let go of.
And when my mind can’t let go of something, it’s my cue that I am right where I need to be.
As I stare down the beast from my nightmares, I dig my toes into the stone ground beneath me.
I push up on the balls of my feet, lift my chin, and give a smirk that screams bring it.
There was only ever one decision.
Two prongs of the same fork.
One tongue split into two of the same beast.
And standing on the other side of it is the only path I need to choose.
The only path that I have been fighting for. The path that only arrived once I knew I was ready.
The decision I am about to make does not mean I am giving up, giving in, compromising, or settling.
The decision I am about to make, however, does mean that I understand.
That I accept.
The decision I am about to make is not about failing. Rather, it is about healing.
I am on my journey and my journey alone.
Who I was a year ago, is unrecognizable. Hell, who I was two years ago no longer exists.
Who I was two years ago burned, settled as ash, only to be reborn into who I am today.
The one-year anniversary of my handing in my 2-week notice – 60 days in advance – is quickly approaching.
It’s also the same day as the 2nd anniversary of when I found out my best friend died.
When I handed in my resignation, I was full of hope, optimism, and a glass full of half air and half water.
Nothing could shake me.
For two years leading up to that day that I left my heart on a piece of paper explaining why it was finally time to move, I was desperate to figure out who I was.
Did I actually like red?
I didn’t know what type of music I liked, what type of books I preferred, what type of food made me smile.
Hell, I didn’t even really know what I wanted to do with my life when I grew up. Only thoughts and ideas. But never strong convictions.
I just knew that I loved to write, adventure, and read.
As I sit here, prolonging the prologue, my decision is begging to be let out in the same breath as it demands to remain hidden for just a little bit longer.
My breath has caught in my throat as I begin to loosen the ropes.
Because once this decision is let free, there is no turning back.
There is no stuffing the genie back in the bottle.
There is only hope that I will catch myself when I fall.
When I announced to my family my major life-changing decision last year, I was ignorant.
My head was so consumed by clouds, that I lost sight of the sea and the sky.
I built in an exit. I gave myself a year.
I thought it was going to be easy and never would need that parachute.
We are sitting at a tad over two months until that one-year milestone is going to punch me in the face.
I haven’t been able to accomplish what I thought I would be able to.
In terms of my business that is.
In terms of me, myself, and I – I have accomplished so many things that I didn’t know I needed to, wanted to, or would.
I have always been the kid whose nose was in a book to escape reality. I have always been the one to turn my assignments in on time (except during second grade…).
I have always been the one to overcompensate because just compensating wouldn’t give me the praise I needed from my parents.
I have always been the one to burn the rope in 3 places – beginning, middle, and end.
And I have always been the one to not stop searching for the thing that feels right. To fight for what I know is right on a level no one else tunes in to.
That’s not me being cocky. That’s me being confident.
But, I am also the person who needs to hear it, read it, and see it before doing it.
Last year I took a leap of faith to follow my dreams.
I just didn’t know at the time that the dreams I had envisioned are nothing like the dreams this journey has made come true.
But it was a leap that was bound to happen. As sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west, that leap needed to happen.
Because if it didn’t, the glass encasing this invisible bubble of mine would not have been strong enough for the slithering forked tongue hissing from the beast from my nightmare in front of me, trying to break me.
I convinced myself that the reason I wasn’t making any financial progress in my business was that I was purposefully going slow. To do things the right way the first time.
While that is true, I was going slow because I needed to overcome imposter syndrome and put negative Nancy in her place.
I needed to prove to myself that I wouldn’t bail on my own leap.
I needed to fight for what I knew I wanted to do.
Write for the art of writing.
Write for the purpose of making my cells vibrate throughout my body until I came alive with all cylinders firing.
So when the opportunity that caused this fork in the road arrived, I jumped.
I didn’t take a leap of faith. I didn’t leap without uncertainty. I didn’t let faith embrace me because I wasn’t sure.
I jumped into the deep end feet first because it sent shivers down my spine. I jumped because this was the exact opportunity I have been needing, wanting, searching for.
My business still exists and will continue to exist. Just, on the side.
This decision I am about to make has nothing to do with needing a stable paycheck.
This decision has everything to do with my purpose in life and being able to live life on my own terms.
OK, so it is a little bit about money.
I am not going back to the corporate world. Going back to the corporate world would be the final nail in my coffin, pulling me down to drown instead.
My aunt asked me what I liked to do.
I told her “I like to edit and I like to write.”
“Like” is an understatement.
From that one question and answer, my leap of faith was born.
I just didn’t know I’d rather write my own stories rather than write stories for others.
I write because every word I use is placed strategically and with importance.
I write because words flow on autopilot. I write because writing whatever strikes my fancy comes naturally, like a second skin I shed with every keystroke.
Not a single word is out of place, misused, or unwanted.
Proper English and grammar be damned.
As I stand and face the beast of my nightmare head-on, I don’t give an inch. I take an inch. And then another.
Because while this viper wants to break me, wants me to pick one and only one route, that is not what is going to happen.
Oh no. Nope. Not at all.
As I stand tall, my stare begging the beast to try me, I take another step forward.
I press through the glass that was protecting me, crossing the border where the only thing protecting me, is me. And I wait.
I will not be broken.
I have been pieced back together with the fires of hell melding them whole.
There is never an either-or or a neither-nor.
There is always another option. Always.
And as I step into the space directly in front of my personal viper, I nod my head, and it lets me pass.
Because on the other side of this beast from my nightmares, is the middle path.
The third prong in the fork.
The split that brings my two worlds together.
And as I place my first step on the path in between, I reach both hands out.
My left holding on to the way I can earn for sure money so that the dream I am holding on to with my right can still exist.
My business will still be there. But it will become a side hustle until I get some more experience and clients.
But now, I am working as an editor.
Something I have always loved doing, just never thought I would be able to do.
Until someone took a chance on me. Until a company gave me an opportunity.
But, if there is only one thing I have learned in this past year on my journey, is that I love opening a document with just an idea and allowing the words to flow.
I love writing short stories. I love writing novels. I love building worlds. I love piecing words together to evoke emotions.
I love leaving my all on the page, ripping out my heart, and giving it to my story.
One day my business will get off the ground.
I am not giving up, giving in, compromising, or settling.
I am adjusting.
And I just got an intense wave of deja vu.
I guess that means just one thing.
I have rediscovered the root of who I am. The root of me.
And I am excited to get reacquainted with this piece of me.
So, what does that mean? It means I am going back to the corporate world. But on my own terms, and doing what I finally realized what I want to do when I grow up.
It also means I am going to throw myself into writing books, novels, novellas, and short stories.
It means that while I will still be a writer for hire, I also know my strengths do not lie with selling, promoting, or marketing. And as a freelancing solopreneur – that is a bad combination.
I get business. I don’t get selling. I get words. I don’t get money.
Because at the root of who I am, is unbridled strength and perseverance.
I have zero regrets about everything that I have done, not done, learned, and not learned this past year. And I am forever grateful that I had this opportunity.
But my soul needs to write as much as the moon needs the sun, the forest needs the trees, the beach needs the sand, and the stars need the sky.
This fork in the road didn’t make me deviate. It didn’t even make me choose.
This fork, this crossroad, made me cement my purpose.
This fork, this crossroad, made me see what actually sparks my passion.
It forced me to step into the person I have been trying to become.
There was no decision to make.
I can see the checkered flag waving for me to cross the finish line, and on the other side, is the beginning I have been searching for.
Adventure on with Curiosity,
– Kelly S.