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No Right Path: Stay Resilient and Welcome Life

Global Voices Essay Contest

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Published: Monday, 26 Jun 2023 Author: Paula Perić

This essay was written by Paula Perić, age 19, from Croatia in response to the 2023 Global Voices Essay Contest in Central and Eastern Europe. Paula was awarded an honorable mention for this entry.

To start with, resilience is a very important ability to have in today's world. There are a large amount of obstacles throughout life waiting for everybody. Maintaining resilience is the only way we can cope. For example, we could use young people, such as myself, in their twenties that have their whole life in front of them. They need to start somewhere. So, where do they start? From childhood dreams, their talents or maybe even expectations of society. There are so many opinions on this question. Everybody has their own idea of what is the best way. In addition to this, there are so many questions that are running through our minds; will we be successful, will we make others proud, will we enjoy what we do and still make enough for a living? I, like many of us, thought of these questions when I decided to start my journey. The very journey that showed me the capacity of my resilience. I started with my childhood dream about who I thought I was supposed to be. I went on a path that put me way beyond my comfort zone. I have done something I always said I would never do. I moved to another city, 5 hours from my hometown. I thought this is what everybody does and people generally enjoy it. It turns out it wasn't like that for me. 

The first time I showed resilience was the end of high school. I needed to choose a college. From when I was four years old I knew what I wanted to do, and where I wanted to study. Although I did not get into that specific college in my hometown, I had the opportunity to still pursue that specific field by moving from my hometown. That is a big decision to make, and there are so many things you need to consider. In addition to this, I was thinking about another very different career which did not require me to move. I spent a great amount of nights staying awake thinking about what I should do. I had been talking to so many people wanting to know what they thought. I knew if I wanted to move I would need to get out of my comfort zone, and I knew I would need great strength for that. In fact, I was very close to giving up on moving, but I decided to challenge myself and I went. Obviously, despite the big amount of stress I was under, I chose to adapt to a change and embrace uncertainty. And that is where my resilience started to grow.

I moved from my hometown and started a certain college major. I had a really hard time while moving and adapting to a new city, but more importantly, adapting to the idea of not having my family, friends and people I love by my side every day. Starting, like every start, was very hard! I did not know anybody, I did not know the city and I had just started a very difficult college major. But everybody has it that way, they said. There is a whole new life that is waiting for you, they said. I believed it. The first two months were wrapped in tears and fear! Despite my trying and giving my best, I had difficulties with studying. My confidence was suffering as well as my mental health.
Deep down I knew this wasn't for me. But how do you say you quit, how do you say you give up? Well, there is not anybody that can make you do anything you don’t really want to do, trust me, even if it is for your own good. The first thing you need to do is accept the situation and forgive yourself! You did not do anything bad, you did not fail, you tried, you fought and you survived. You are still here, still looking for your path, you are still you, even if you have forgotten what that looks like. Through all that, I have withstood adversity. That whole experience, I believe, was a reflection on my ability to stay resilient! 

However, the most resilience that I could show was to quit. Quitting is not always a bad thing, it is not giving up or stopping the fight. Sometimes it is the very peak of your fight, the time that requires the most strength—recognizing that something does not feel right for you and accepting that your life has changed. Dreams are here to be changed, as we grow, as we learn and become the best version of ourselves. Resilience involves the ability to work through the hardships of life, bouncing back and growing despite life's downturns. 

Adapting to a new place or environment can be hard. Changing your life habits can be hard. Stepping out of your comfort zone is the hardest— sometimes the best, sometimes the worst decision. But life is a risk taking journey. The most important thing in all of that is to maintain resilience; to withstand pressure, overcome difficulties, and still stay loyal to yourself and see the beauty in all of this that we call life.