Today is 4th July, 2020.
It’s Independence Day for Americans, and also happens to be Independence Day for me.
In 2007, 17-year-old me signed a contract with the Thai government: 6 years of sponsored education in the UK in exchange for 6 years living in Thailand upon my return.
When you’re 17 years old and this close to studying abroad in your dream country, home to Liverpool and Steven Gerrard, you don’t really think much about what comes after.
Back then, all I could and did think of was fun, adventure, freedom. I could do anything, be anyone. The future was a door wide open, and I could see only light. And paths, so many paths.
If you know me personally or have read some of my writing, you may know that the years ahead, unbeknownst to me, would be filled with periods of darkness so deep that it was at times uncertain whether I’d find light again.
All in all though, those 6 years were great. I came back in 2014. The world was bright again. The door was wide open. Paths, so many paths. Then darkness crept in. Another fight. Another victory for the light, for me.
Fast-forward 6 years, and here I am again in front of the wide open door. Bright lights. Paths, so many paths.
Today, 4th July, is when my contractual obligation with the Thai government ends. Tomorrow, I am free to roam. The world – as they say – will be my oyster.
2007, 2014, and now 2020. Twice the door has opened wide, alluring and welcoming. Twice I’ve walked through, eventually stumbled, and found myself at the bottom of a bottomless hole.
I hope 2020 will be different. I’m older, and I’d like to think a little wiser.
Dear 17-year-old and 24-year-old me, let 30-year-old me make you both proud.
Let’s walk through this open door and meet the future. Eyes open. Feet firm. Hands outstretched.
Let’s do this.