Thirty-Five Years – Reflecting on Dreams, Fears, and Tears…

“Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.”  – Edgar Allan Poe

Hold fast to dreams, for if dreams die, life is a broken-winged bird that cannot fly.    – Langston Hughes

Yes: I am a dreamer. For a dreamer is one who can only find his way by moonlight, and his punishment is that he sees the dawn before the rest of the world.  -Oscar Wilde

So I just turned 35, on July 9th… No big deal, it’s just a number. And surely, the “struggle” with “dreams, fears, and tears,” hasn’t persisted  35 years, but it can certainly feel that way when you’ve been in “survival mode” for a great deal of that time…

…Several months have gone by since I last wrote on this page, and for this past year I haven’t written much, largely because of my PhD fieldwork, and trying to make progress on my dissertation. The transition returning from ‘the field’ was quite difficult, for at least 2-3 months as well upon returning… But I was grateful to learn that it’s not abnormal to take that much time to get readjusted, and I have made a great deal of progress nevertheless…

I plan to write more here if time permits, perhaps shorter, more frequent posts….as they’re still so many things I want to share and have been working on, and although time is flying by, those moments still remain special and have become even more significant …

And just a quick side note, since I haven’t written here for a while… If you happen to just tune in…for the first time on this blog… Welcome! And please feel free to check out my About page, and sift through some of the articles and/or pages on the blog, if it interests you….namely the first post I wrote when I first started this blog back in 2016, featured here…which may give some insight to the purpose, particularly it’s emphasis on empowerment through mental health and exploring “intersectionality”… sharing a bit of my own story in the process…  I started referring to myself as “Warrior Queen” 4-5 years ago, not because I’m self-absorbed and conceited, but rather as a form of self-empowerment, to help me through some serious challenges …namely with respect to mental health and well-being, many connected to struggles that emerge from our “identity” and “identity-intersections”… and I hope it can help others in the process as well…

……..

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For my birthday, I sometimes like to write some reflections, take time to think about the direction I am going…as I am sure many others do too…. I normally do this on Facebook, and in recent years, I transitioned to blogging…

For the “OCD-ETK,” numbers are important. So turning 35 mattered to me. And I wanted to have a meaningful 35th, and though I spent it alone, my birthday this year still turned out to be special. I think every year I had my birthday in the Washington, DC area, my second home, I do end up spending it alone, and this year I didn’t want to, but naturally it just happened. Usually, I like to take my birthday off, as a “mental health” day…a time for reflection anyway…

And I often find myself posting on my social networks, on this day, and in recent years especially, about not being or feeling “accomplished,” or not getting as far as I want to be. It didn’t happen this year, because although I haven’t accomplished nearly what I thought I would accomplish by the age 35, I think I finally “grew up”, and got enough sense to realize that my ‘standards’ are my own, and my ‘progress’ and ‘trajectory’ are my own. The uncertainties about “what’s next” in life will probably always exist, no matter how much we accomplish, no matter what phase or stage we are at in our pursuits/careers/ambitions/life goals

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And on this day, I decided to go over to my favorite spot in the DC area, the Georgetown Waterfront Washington Harbor area…. partly on purpose.

Interestingly, exactly 5 years ago, I found myself on this same dock, on my 30th Birthday. It was raining, and normally I love the rain…

But I was sad. And I was in tears as I stared into the dark water standing on the dock …. I recall the blurry images of people around me… I felt invisible. So I continued to just stand there, with my head down, staring at the dark, filthy water…trying to find reasons why I shouldn’t jump. Bridges and docks have been a ‘positive’ and ‘negative’ theme in my life. In part, I enjoy going near the water, absorbing the surroundings, the beauty, and simply “reflecting,” (which I do a lot apparently)…. And the other part, there is someone there, inside me, that tries to push me in, knowing very well, that I never learned how to swim.

I remember the extent of pain I was in that day… ….trying to grapple with a lot of uncertainties and struggles. Sometimes you forget those moments, but given it was “OCD-ETK’s “30th, it became a scar.

Now, fast forward 5 years, with still some of the same uncertainties as that time, knowing the challenges I have overcome, and have yet to overcome, simply for having ambition, for being a dreamer, for fighting through the barriers created by the social construction of the identity…

I walked over to the Harbor dock… and stared in the water…. and just smiled.

It was indeed a beautiful day out, and a beautiful evening. And my friend, the moon, also came out (though in half his form) to give Salaam, and wish me a happy birthday. And as I walked over to the dock and stared back into the water, I saw his reflection, and felt a strong overwhelming sensation of peace.

If those tears transformed into smiles in 5 years… there may be no greater sense of  “accomplishment” …

And a lot has changed. The 5 years ago Elsa, is not the 35 year old Elsa. And if I do return to that “dock,” maybe the mind is still conditioned to “go there.” But the heart has wanted to stay, despite the pain and suffering, to see what story has been written for me. Who am I to tear out the pages?…..  The blood, sweat, tears, the suffering and fears… its all part of the story… and it’s only beginning…

When you have come this far in life, amid all your struggles, and against many odds…perhaps the curiosity for where life will take you, what God (or whatever divine force) has willed for us… and the will and desire to give yourself in service to others.. can continue to carry you forward…with all your life’s ambitions…

The other day, my father told me that I “am a good learner but not a good finisher.” I love how he’s always right about everything… Interestingly, I started reading this book, “How to Finish what you Start” a year or two ago…. started it, but didn’t finish it….came back to it again recently, started it, and didn’t finish it…. 🙂

I hope this year will not only be the year I “learn to finish”… one chapter in my life, in particular, …

…but may this also be the year that I start valuing my “potential” and learn to harness it into a small contribution with value for others .…

….Having the eye on that “prize” for all these years has helped keep me afloat… As I have written before, the PHD has been a professional and personal journey for me… And along the journey, there comes a moment where you find yourself developing an incredible sense of responsibility for something bigger than yourself …  And I can sense it’s presence right now… it’s presence became greater only recently upon returning from “the field”…. it is a responsibility I am not fully sure I can fulfill. But all I hope is that I continue to push to overcome any barriers…. Stay persistent, and with humility and sincerity with everything I can give…. As I’ve been slowly learning how much love I actually have and want to give to the world …

I have a great sense of gratitude for those who remembered me on my birthday. I told myself, this year, I am not going to cry. But the tears showed up anyway, and that’s okay, because even Warrior Queens are allowed to cry….

And it was not out of self-pity this time, but rather out of feeling loved, something I don’t always allow myself to feel. Perhaps, I’m thawing out, and the numbness that once prevented me from seeing and understanding the “love” that surrounded me, is slowly deteriorating…

 I have been “dancing on my own” for a while now, but at the same time,  “living the dream,”… I have survived the fears and tears, and plan to continue fighting for those dreams to become realities!

I’m Thirty-Five, Yes….. Still Alive. Still Incomplete. Still Surviving. Still on the “Mission Impossible”… & Still “Working on my Masterpiece.”

“You haven’t seen the best of” Warrior Queen ETK, and she’s here to stay …

Thank you to all those who have been with me on my ride… and I hope you’ll stay with me for the rest of the journey..

Cheers to resilience and survival, and cheers to transforming our dreams into realities!

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” – Rumi

“Dance, when you’re broken open. Dance, if you’ve torn the bandage off. Dance in the middle of the fighting. Dance in your blood. Dance when you’re perfectly free.” – Rumi 

“Do not follow where the path may lead. Go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.” –  Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Yesterday is but today’s memory, tomorrow is today’s dream.” –  Kahlil Gibran

Peace, Love, Warmth, and Blessings,

Your Elsa

Warrior KQueen

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