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Some journeys inspire you, some refresh you, and some are just magical. This piece is about a woman’s journey to independence, and what true freedom means to her.
As I make my way to Malone’s Irish Bar, sleepy and tired, I somehow feel a sense of relief at my first dissertation submission for the session. It has been three months already, since I came to this enchanting city. Three months full of new experiences and diverse emotions, and meeting some of the most interesting people.
I still remember it like it was yesterday that I walked out of the airport, the chilling cold breeze lifted my spirits with the excitement of the year to come. And a warm smile on my lips.
Winter has set in. 3 pm, and it is dark already. As I come to the entrance of the Meadows, I halt suddenly.There is a sense of anxiety that overpowers me. I am familiar with this feeling, but have not felt it since I arrived in this city. I wonder why there is this shiver in my spine, and suddenly, the quiet loneliness fills me up.
I wonder why there is this shiver in my spine, and suddenly, the quiet loneliness fills me up.
My brain has already set in action the reactions to this anxiety – all my senses are heightened, my heart is racing, and I keep looking over my shoulders. As soon as someone come close, my body flexes.It is my brain’s automatic self-defense mechanism. A result of my years of trying to protect myself from the cat calls, stares, light brushes, groping…the list is endless.But I wonder: do I really need it here?As I slowly cross the quiet, dark path, people cross me from all directions. Oblivious to the fear that has grappled me. I cross a young couple, much in love, and as they smile at me…I wonder again if my fears are warranted. I have already experienced many a times how different this city is from back home.People here care to look out for you even if you are a stranger, they try to protect you, and advise you.As I head close to my destination, I see cars and huge crowds of university students out for a fun evening at the end of the term. Slowly, I start to relax. Although the automatic response to dark nights and lonely stretches may take a while to curb, this city I now call home has given me true independence.
Although the automatic response to dark nights and lonely stretches may take a while to curb, this city I now call home has given me true independence.
As I walk down to the entrance of Malone’s, I am not scared or anxious anymore. Cautious, yes. Some habits probably take longer than others to overcome.But I realize…I am free. The kind of free I had never known earlier. Where I am not on guard at all times. Where I am not protecting myself from everyone around me. Where I can walk free no matter what time of the day it is. And experience the beauty of my city, rather than looking over my shoulder every other second.At last, I am free to explore and experience this amazing city I have fallen in love with.
I am free.
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