Rise Like The Phoenix

I vividly remember this life transforming moment. It was just another afternoon in Junior College (equivalent to senior year of high school) when I was walking down to the bus stop with three girls who were my only friends. They were eerily walking faster than me so I couldn’t catch up to them but stopped to turn around at one point in a very cinematic manner to imperiously tell me that they will never talk to me again. And they didn’t. The next few hours that followed that rejection were turbulent, filled with self-doubt, as if someone had pushed me into an emotional chasm.

After I came home that day, I shared what happened with my mother who was my confidant and guide. Instead of empathizing about my situation, preaching me to stay away from my friends, she simply shared some of her own stories as a young adult. Growing up, she had no friends, most of her siblings couldn’t support, her parents didn’t know how to help her, and she had to build herself up. In my case, I was not alone. I had her, my first mentor. And that was my first mentoring session. She remains one of the few mentors that I haven’t outgrown.

Through meaningful lessons while still young, I had some early wins in life that many others at that age didn’t. I knew how to be my own cheerleader, build a support system with available and willing people, being impervious to negativity, and knowing how to be authentic despite adversity. By the time I was studying and living in a new country, I was sorted. Somewhere along the way, even though I missed childhood and adolescence, my advancement, both emotional and behavioral, was unparalleled. While I appreciated the tribe that backed me, I was not afraid to walk alone.

Since, I have been looking for those three friends to thank them for evoking me understand that I am more powerful than I’d known, for teaching me to “never dim my light for anyone,” for preparing me to stand alone, to write my own story, and keep those that chose me closest to my heart. Who knows what I’d have become if they didn’t spurn. This is just one example that helped me rise like the Phoenix that rose from ashes. I often remind myself in dismal situations, “Sometimes you just have to die a little inside in order to be reborn and rise again as a stronger and wiser version of you.”

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