You Are Enough

There are parts of me that would love to unravel the entire story of the intense, life-altering days I've just had but for now you’ll have to forgive my silence because I'm not entirely sure what I'm trying to say. I don't know how I feel about that place yet, and I don't want to get my hopes up if next Thursday they will be crushed. I will tell you all the things I know for certain now; but I will not speculate.

It was at the beginning of the week. I was giggling, europhic and in disbelief at the way everything had come together. Here I was surrounded by new friends in a beautiful place and our days together felt like a dream. That starry night we decided to go down to the beach and climb the hill. Our hosts, Jean and Andrew, had told us that that's where we'd get the best phone signal and we were curious to see our temporary home from a new perspective.

I climbed to the very top even though I’ve been terrified of heights since before I can remember. When I was younger couldn't even bring myself to climb the first ring of a ladder and would give up and I’d just waste over an hour trying to get one of my boys to go up instead. But still, my legs always wore bruises and grazes. My friends all found my attempts at climbing funny so I kind of embraced it. It became one of my many quirks. One would say "you're not afraid of heights you're afraid of falling" and I'd never believe her, but I think I do now.

By this trip I was realising more and more that who I was was up to me. By telling myself I was scared of heights  I wasn’t giving myself the opportunity to not be, so I let those thoughts go.

I saw myself in Bethany, who only climbed halfway and was too afraid to go any higher, and it was then I realised how far I've come. Up narrow paths, winding through nettles, and flying though muddy bogs as the rain started to fall. I was climbing higher hills than the ones I was so frightened of before. I had a few near stumbles, but I climbed until my legs hurt and I knew I’d only get better. When we stopped at the top and I text my brother, he told me how proud he was of me and I smiled because I was proud of me too.  I can’t say how momentous this was for me. There was a moment when I was climbing and I looked down and I wasn't scared. I felt like I was going to burst with pride. I hardly recognised myself. I didn’t have to be hopeless, I didn’t have to be dependent on anyone else. I could do this. I could be enough.

A sense of awe and accomplishment was shared by us all. Us wide-eyed dreamers. Especially when we finally made it down, seeing the hill for how steep it actually was. Together we spoke of the immense beauty that surrounded us, of being human, of being alive. Of being enough. Our words felt powerful, as though they were more than words. We put our arms around the shoulders of those beside us and we spun laughing in circles. When we stopped the stars were still spinning.

We were all more grateful than we could put to words that night. Emily, Ella, Bethany and I spoke for hours about how grateful we were. To have met one another, to be housemates for our few days together, to be able to travel, to be young and healthy, to be alive, for all the love and joy we’ve ever felt, for the struggles that helped us grow and the potential of our future. For everything. It felt like one of the greatest nights of all, like the future had never burned so brightly before us.

Our host Jean was a beautiful soul, and seemingly fearless. I’d let slip a worry I had about what other’s might think and she’d bluntly ask me, “Why does it matter Anne?” And she’d be right, I was the only one making what other people thought matter. She was always asking, “Why not?” and she always had a point. We walked down with Andrew and their dog Robbie to the nearby Red Rocks Beach, where a perfect sunset was playing out above the ocean. My view was crystal clear, crashing sea and bright blue sky turning fiery above an unbroken horizon. I felt so blessed to be on Coll, to discover a place for myself for the first time in forever. Being out and exploring on the sand or from cliffs where there was only blue sky, green valleys and golden light. So blessed to be capturing little moments that would be cherished long after the moment was gone.We were the only five there and it was beautiful. The wind hugged me so softly. This was the week  I recognised the importance of human connection.  Family in all but blood.

Nearer the end of the week I felt my faith in Project Trust dim a little. For the first time since I found them nearly three years ago I suddenly realised that I had been viewing them through rose tinted glasses almost. I'm not sure whether it was them or me but I sensed a wall being built between us. Something wasn’t right. I had a weird feeling, but I kept pushing it away. As if no one really knew what to do with me. I carried my stress and anxiety alone that last night.

Every plan I had, every dream I clung into, the way our ideals seemed to fit, the way I had thought I had found a destiny. Three years it took to get there, three years in love with an dream seemed suddenly like it had shattered in four days. I am sure I've not been picked. Selection was much more intense and intimidating than I could ever have anticipated. All of it suddenly felt meaningless. That last night I lay on too the the white cover sobbing because I couldn't believe how naive I'd allowed myself to be. I was wearing a red dress and my hair was tied up into the bun I first learned to do when I was just a little girl. When I went into the bathroom and saw the mascara trail down my cheek for a moment something ridiculous flickered through the haze of suffering and I thought that this would be a great scene in a film. I almost laughed at myself.

The last days of any trip always carry a poignancy with them. I could smell every scent in the air, hear every little sound and see the things I’d normally overlook. My last sunset was the most breathtaking of them all. I was on Red Rocks Beach and the sky was dripping with colour. Of the entire week somehow this night felt the most cinematic of all. Every smell and sound and colour was vivid and we wandered through the galaxy of lights and faces. I sat amidst all of it and listened to a song that reminded me of someone (that someone, always that someone) and I was swept up in life. Lost felt more like free. I looked at my friends. They were strangers a few days ago and now I will never forget them, even if it’s decades before our paths cross again.

That’s the beautiful thing about connecting with other people, you’re opening doors that will likely stay open no matter how much time has passed. In this way I kind of see every stranger as a door waiting to be opened. Stories and perspectives just waiting to be unlocked, laughter and love waiting to be shared. Everywhere my godmother goes she embraces and connects to strangers in an extraordinary way. Everyone is her brother or sister, every stranger just a friend she hasn’t met yet. I think of her each time I want to tell a stranger they have kind eyes or a beautiful laugh, or I see somebody I think might need a hug. And I am slowly but surely becoming braver and more open, like her.

When I get home my exam results are sitting on the table waiting for me. I got As in the subjects that matter the most to me - English, History and Spanish, a B in the maths paper that was labelled "impossible" by students and teachers alike, and a C in Chemistry, which I've been failing miserably all year. I am glad to be done with it. My phone was soon buzzing with congratulations and the reality sunk in. I had done it. I made it. I might have the worst exam results out of my siblings and I, but it didn't matter. I stand proudly beside them, always a unit. It is beautiful to be home. For the first time in so many years, I am enough. I am happy. I am proud.




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