Here’s something that has had me stumped for a few days. I went through a myriad of emotions and several evenings of quiet contemplation. At first I resented it, thinking that it went against everything I stand for and have become. Then, after some deep introspection I realised it was exactly what I needed. Trust me when I say that it takes several reads before it it sinks in and you begin to recognise and appreciate the message between the lines.
Walk away from arguments that lead you to anger and nowhere;
Walk away from people who deliberately put you down;
Walk away from the practice of pleasing people who choose to never see your worth;
Walk away from any thought that undermines your peace of mind;
Walk away from judgmental people,
they do not know the struggle you are facing and what you have been through;
Walk away from your mistakes and fears,
they do not determine your fate;
The more you walk away from the things that poison your soul, the healthier your life will be.
– Dodinksky, from The Garden of Thoughts
I was raised in the typical Asian fashion of the 1960s and 70s, which for daughters meant being 100% submissive to parental rule. So voicing an opinion or debating was not in the cards. The concept of walking away, therefore was completely alien to me and I ended up in that lonely desert of Nowhere. I lived with being put down for being different, and I never really understood my worth, because I never seemed to be good enough for my parents. Peace of mind for a child raised in this manner is equated with silence, and the struggles and torments were suffered in silence.
It was only in High School that I found a voice for myself through words. Writing became the cherished outlet, and I had a few good teachers who laid the foundation for both written and verbal expression, thus encouraging me to hone my leadership skills. Mistakes and fears were still taken against me, pushing me to live by other people’s standards. Nobody taught me to learn from them and use them as stepping stones. The poison determined my fate.
My university years were the most transformative of my youth, as they led me to my eventual career path of development work. This is where I found a voice for others, and learned to fight for others as well as stand my ground. Walking away was not a choice, but rather, I walked straight into the challenge and the danger. I believed this to be my way until everything fell apart four years ago.
In my journey to rebuild my life and character, the hardest thing to let go of became my inherent nature to fight back tooth and nail simply to prove my point or dispel the wrong impression others had of me. No more. They were toxic and I ended up poisoning my soul even more. And I finally learned to walk away, maintain my sanity and dignity, and channel my strengths elsewhere.
Peace of mind is a by-product of the ability to rise above everything and everyone that tries to tear you apart. I’ve come full circle, finding my voice in word and image, for nobody in particular, for everyone who cares to listen. Simply, a voice.