Coming of age story that sprung forth from insecurity, defeat, and cynicism. Brief.
| “So, what? Did you like throw darts at a map or something?” They laughed incredulously. “Yes,” I replied. “It was as random as that.” Every conversation I had about my journey of self discovery started that way. Why Cambodia? What about Cambodia made you move there? Sometimes I lie; I say it was the culture or the history. Sometimes I tell the truth: it was a fortuitous decision. A decision that I stand by wholeheartedly.
It was a Wednesday evening when I booked the flight to Phnom Penh, Cambodia. I was heartbroken over my first breakup. I was recovering from a year of homelessness by moving back in with my parents and I was still jobless. There were hospitalizations due to my disorder that took away chunks of my life. I was 23 and living in a state of misery. I sat in the shower with cheap mini bottles of wine. The water was hot and the wine was so cold, and I cried. I cried for over an hour over who I have been, who I was becoming. I laid in the fetal position on the floor of the shower stall only meant for standing and I let the water run over my body. Even though the water was hot, I had goosebumps covering my arms and legs. I was clutching my phone, thumb hovering over the Confirm button, debating purchasing the ticket to Cambodia with the last of my money. I had just enough to buy my one way ticket away from my sad life. This melodramatic cry for help was as sincere and genuine as it could possibly be. Even if life wasn’t as bad as I felt it was, those intense feelings shaped my reality. I gave a gentle tap to my phone, part of me hoping that it wouldn’t register, but it did and my ticket was purchased. I knew Cambodia was in Asia and that was the extent of my knowledge. I didn’t know what language was spoken there, what the currency was, or if it was safe for foreigners, let alone a solo black female traveller. I was frightened and eager all at once.
I spent the next month networking. I ignored those important questions and focused on meeting someone that would meet me at the airport, a stranger to welcome me into my new life. I was afraid of being alone, of entering a new chapter without anyone on my side. I was greeted and that relationship died shortly after and I found myself alone. Remarkably, I wasn’t afraid. This was my chance to prove to myself that I was still capable of living an extraordinarily positive and impressive life. I found a job and an apartment. I learned to make friends as an adult, which everyone knows is a feat in and of itself. I found my independence. I found peace and excitement. I found adventure. I found myself. I was no longer afraid to be on my own. I no longer doubted my capacity to be great. There was a freedom I never experienced before. A coming of age story that sprung forth from insecurity, defeat, and cynicism.