Prior to turning 21, I had these fascinating goals. From graduating with my bachelor’s degree to starting my own business. Yet, my ?attempt? to plan and execute such an exciting year which I deemed to be ?the year of the glow up?, turned out to be the most trying period in my life. More so a lessoned learned. From falling out with friends to fighting major after-effects of a head injury. I conquered many trials yet none related to my multitude of goals I set out for myself.

My injury being the most taxing element of this year seems to have been the biggest priced paid due to my very stubborn mindset. For a long time, I had been battling with the idea of ?living fearlessly?. The idea of taking more control of my life and using fear as a catalyst to take on my greatest challenges. Although I thought I was living fearlessly I still was predisposed to running away from challenges that seemed out of my range. ?

My injury caused me to be scared of literally everything. From losing my sight, my ability to communicate my thoughts, and even my physical capacity to do daily task all became a looming cloud of incapabilities and self-doubt. I was no longer the person that I thought I was. I had fallen to ground zero in a blink of an eye, literally. Three stories and two bricks will do that to a person.

The Aja that I knew myself to be was no longer the person that I had now become. I was living in constant fear of not recovering while trying to get back to the ?old? me. I went through months of rehab in trying to rebuild my mental function. From re-learning how to take notes for class to learn how to an articulate myself in a thesis paper, things that have always been so easy for me. ?That had to have been the roughest part, wanting to be able to do something yet the end result has no connection to the plan. Stubbornly and aimlessly I tried to fight my thoughts and my inability to do regular things.

I continued down this path for a while until I completely lost it. Struggling to pass midterms and communicate my issues with my professors I had a mental break down in my mentor’s office. At that moment he asked, ?why are you holding on to this idea that everything must go back to what used to be? What if relearning how to be and exist is the adversity you need to push yourself to the next step??

Now, you could imagine I was not feeling this. The idea of what seemed like having to stop fighting to exist terrified me even more. If I stopped fighting, I lose the battle and would succumb to the problem. As much as that was a valid fear, I also realized that my action had been insane. Trying to live and sustain that way was not beneficial to my health or my healing. So in opposition to insanity, I changed my fight. I chose to fight against my fear and lead with my ambition. Ambition being all the things that I wanted, willing myself to gain each goal but using the time to be the navigation.

Overexerting myself wasn’t working. I had to realize and validate my truth to change my circumstance. I had to step in my fearlessly in my truth. Then and only then did I actively start healing and changing my new normal. Now eight months post-injury I can painlessly say that I am not the old me. I am not perfect. I am not the wounded ?victim? laid out on the sidewalk from two falling brick from the third floor of the apartment building.

Although, I am different because of it. I would not wish such an experience on my greatest enemy, yet I do believe that it was something I needed. I’m a firm believer that everything happens for a reason and lessons are only learned in the aftermath of chaos. I am a better person and creative because of it. Relearning how to communicate through all elements in a different way is something that took me beyond my comfort zone. Making me reach beyond my limits and make a new path to the same destination. It made me realize that the view of circumstance can be altered based on mindset.

21 has been a very interesting year, to say the least. I lost myself and recreated a new purpose and meaning within the ashes of the old. Like a phoenix, I live for a new day, a new approach, and a new me.

?For while the tale of how we suffer, and how we are delighted, and how we may triumph is never new, it always must be heard. There isn?t any other tale to tell, it?s the only light we?ve got in all this darkness.?

| James Baldwin |