There is no such thing as “on time”.

recite 2

“There’s no advantage to hurrying through life.” -Shikamaru Nara”

There is no such thing as “on time”. While I was growing up, in elementary and high school, I did everything first. I finished my assignments, tests, projects or anything I was involved in first. I always got good grades and never disappointed anyone. Everyone was always expecting the best from me and I was always eager to deliver on time. It was always a piece of cake. This being the tempo I was used to, I hit an ice berg at my first hardship.

Let me drive you down memory lane briefly so you get the picture. When I was sixteen years old, my family and I were deported from the United States. After taking a decade to build a life, we were forced to leave our home in less than three weeks. Can you imagine packing up your life in twenty days and just leaving? Neither could I, but I did it. Those first years crushed my soul to its very depth. It shattered me into a million pieces, so much so that I didn’t think I would ever be whole again. But, through endless effort and tireless persistence, I finally pushed through.

When I got to college, I thought it was all behind me. The drama, the tears and the depression. Boy, was I in for a wild ride. My freshman year was not like most. Although I attended my classes regularly, I didn’t have much of an academic or social life. I would play poker and smoke my way through the entire year, barely surviving. That’s what if felt like, anyway. As I am a huge fan of stability, this change crushed me entirely. Apart from the fact that my parents were in a financial rut, I was struggling day in and day out trying to remain in a normal state of mind. No one knew was I was going through except my room mate. At the time, I was too embarrassed to even acknowledge it. College was supposed to be the best part of my life – at least that’s what everyone said. Hint: it wasn’t. Not for me, anyway.

As time went on, I picked myself up and brushed myself off. Never being a quitter, I went back and passed all my exams from freshman year. This became a pattern. I would take time off to decompress, heal and get back on my feet. When my third year came, the financial issues piled up so high that I lost my breath and hardly made it. Then, I decided to do something about it. Persistence has always been my strong suit, so it wasn’t different this time. I got a job and left school for a while. Being financially stable, I made the decision to go back and continue the journey I had started. It was not easy. There were times when I had to work two jobs just to get by, while preparing my exams. This went on for years and is still going on as we speak.

Even though I am reaching the end of this “never-ending” journey, I can stand up and say I am proud of myself. Most people would have given up if they were in my shoes. Battling depression, financial issues, piling exams and no stability are not easy tasks. Doing this while being embarrassed and scolded was even worse. But, every time I was judged for my life choices and reactions, I always said to myself that it can always be worse. And it can. So, this is not a story of pity or grief. On the contrary, it is a story of ups and downs, failures and successes.

No one said you have to finish school in four years. No one said you have to have your dream career by twenty five, with a ring on your finger and kids in the back seat. There are no rules to life. You cannot live by someone else’s storybook. And, you should never, ever be embarrassed for struggling or taking more time to do something than everyone else. We all live by our own rules, move at our own pace. It is not embarrassing nor shameful to delay your life journey and take breaks along the way. Being able to share this with the world defines strength, not weakness.

Today, I stand tall and proud of my life choices and hardships. I managed to soldier through many storms while being judged, pitied and even laughed at. However, I never gave up. I let these experiences mold me into the person I am today, so no one can tell me that I turned out this way because of them. Never feel ashamed of who you are and what you have gone though. Never feel the need to explain yourself in front of anyone, no matter who they are. We all grow at our own speed. Life is not a competition. Therefore, the next time someone says something along the lines of “it’s high time you do this or that”, just reply with, “there is no such thing as “on time”.

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