I'm living in Abbotsford, British Columbia with my older brother in a cheap rent, two bedroom apartment in a bit of a problematic neighbourhood. It's probably the one thing that makes me feel grateful that up till this point, I've lived a pretty sheltered life.
Moving here from Saudi Arabia as an adult hasn't been the same as moving to Edmonton, Alberta with my family when I was four years old.
For starters, when I was a kid, I didn't recognise the differences in the cultures and lifestyles. I absorbed what I saw without question because I didn't understand enough to notice what my older siblings and my parents noticed.
My mother divorced my father after learning that, here, she had the right to do it.
I spent the following eight years there. It was what I was used to, and in my head, the rest of the world couldn't have been that different. Even with my teachers' greatest efforts to implicate my classmates and me in how lucky we are, all they tried to teach us about the rest of the world went over my head.
A thought I constantly had back then that I'm ashamed of is, It doesn't matter, I'll never have to experience that, and I didn't take the time to think about why grown-ups told us those things or how tragic others' experiences might have been. It never occurred to me how blessed I was.
In those eight years, my three oldest brothers reached legal age. My other brother and I were still minors, just thirteen and twelve years old, and our mother decided to take us back to Saudi Arabia, though it was unquestionably not the best move for our futures.
Back there, I slowly began to see why I should have been grateful when I was still living in Alberta.
Men are expected to "protect" women from the environment they'd built around us, of disrespect and outrageous sense of entitlement.
Way too often, my elders restrained me for the reason that I'm a girl. My mom always tried to justify it by saying, "You're a girl, and this is our culture."
With that as the reason for almost everything, I started to feel unhappy. I had these big dreams that I didn't think were possible just because of my gender and background. I thought everyone would be successful but me.
I remember continually sitting alone and wondering what the point of me being alive was if I couldn't get anywhere in life. And although there was a lot of stress and discomfort on my part, those years of my life truly shaped me. I'm even grateful for the worst moments because of that.
The people around me usually made me feel out of place, for the reason that I wanted more in life. I've always wanted to flourish, be free, independent and seen. That just wasn't the best place for it.
For quite a while now, I had this belief that if you're genuinely unhappy somewhere, it's not where you belong. Sometimes, it's as easy as packing your bags and starting fresh at another place, and others, you need loads of patience and to put in a lot of hard work.
After ages of mental breakdowns, horrifying coping methods, lots of research and blind optimism that turned into borderline delusion, I finally found the paperwork I needed. I filled it out and got myself to a place that feels more like home to me.
To some extent, I do believe in fate. Life doesn't plateau forever, good and bad things happen to everyone. That's how it goes. I just don't think there's a particular prophecy we've been made to fulfill.
The way I see it, life is trial and error. We all get things right, make mistakes, have needs and desires, thoughts and feelings, and so much to learn.
In my head, it's like we're all in this massive maze, and there are loads of ways out. The objective is to grow up and find bliss. It's important to let go of petty things and focus on the bigger picture, even when it's hard.
That's my focus right now. Bliss.