Happy New Year everyone! I hope the coming year will be a happy and amazing year for us all. I want to share an essay with you that I wrote a few months ago. I was contemplating how life is a struggle, and how there are small and big obstacles. These small obstacles train us to endure the bigger obstacles. Despite the hardships of life, if we pace ourselves and keep getting up after we fall, eventually we will overcome most things. I want to assure you that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Each one of us is on our own journey through life, and we have to find the aha moment in our lives that will help us to grow and to improve. However, once we do have those moments of growth, it usually changes our perspectives and how we choose to live our lives.
Climbing Mount Epiphany
Lena Winfrey Hayat
Reaching an epiphany sounds like climbing Mount Everest, and sometimes it might compare to such a great feat. Many people go through pivotal changes in their lives that stem from tough decisions that sometimes change the course of their lives. However, how many people have really had an epiphany of self-realization? How many have experienced being on a point where they are standing on a precipice and ready to fall into the dark abyss while praying wings will miraculously appear to protect them from falling? It is no easy task to stand outside ourselves and to see the moment of truth where we discover something new in our thinking or in the way we view ourselves and the world around us. It is both rare and amazing to find that glorious moment of an epiphany that enlightens and bathes our souls in the light of a new dawn.
How do we recognize an epiphany? Once we experience it, we just understand what it is. It is almost like turning on a bright light in a very dark room and illuminating every item and corner in that room. It is akin to an “aha” moment when the light bulb turns on in our brains. Yet, an epiphany runs deeper than the surface of our minds as it also engulfs our hearts and souls, thus reaching to the core of our beings. Once we have had an epiphany, there is no turning back to the old world or archaic way of thinking. We are changed forever. Despite facing small or big epiphanies, both change us and have lasting effects upon us. My life has been full of pivotal moments and small epiphanies. My small epiphanies were like stepping stones, little moments of learning, that prepared me to face my great epiphanies.
Being raised as a female in the Southern part of the United States and coming from a nice, middle class family, I led a life where most of my needs were met. My father indeed protected and worked hard to take care of our family. I am so grateful for my parents who gave me a strong foundation by teaching me morals as well as hard work ethics. They taught me to be polite and honest. They encouraged me to help others. They even gave me the space to dream and inspired me to reach higher to achieve more. Despite growing up shy and basically being quiet at school, I felt I had some special quality inside and some great purpose in this life. Yet, there were days where I would feel sad because I was not perfect. It took me many years to shed the pressure of trying to be perfect. We all live in an imperfect world and we are all imperfect, so why was I pressuring myself to reach the unattainable? I finally decided to be happy for at least trying my best.
Due to society’s roles for women that have been ingrained in both the male and female psyches, we sometimes forget to question our roles. Life is not black and white, but it is a series of various shades of grey. One small epiphany was realizing that I didn’t have to be stuck in the traditional female role. Many women still struggle with this because today most women work outside of the home, and then when they reach home they continue their work. We begin to believe we are superwomen who must do everything perfectly, both our job and our work at home including raising the children. It is exhausting! Sometimes we forget to ask for help, and there are a few spouses and family members who would gladly help. Yet, women are filled with guilt when they fall below either their own self-expectations or the expectations set by society. Once we realize that the best way to live would be mutual cooperation within our families, then the pressure can be alleviated. We need to stop listening to all of the dictates of society and start listening to our hearts and needs, thus defining ourselves or even recreating ourselves into stronger, more confident, relaxed women. Once our perspectives and priorities shift, we can discover who we really are and what gifts we have to offer the world. And this also needs to come with a spirit of cooperation and compassion from the other members of society who we would like to see supporting and helping everyone in the human race.
We all have our ups and downs in life. I have gone through many hardships and passed through tough obstacles to the point I thought my heart and soul were broken. And yet, I held on with some unknown strength. I was raised like most girls who heard stories of princes and knights saving ladies in distress, and I was waiting for years for a gentleman, a knight in shining armor, to come and rescue me from my difficult life. Yet, no one came. No help arrived and almost no support or encouragement could be found. I was alone in my dungeon drowning in depression and despair.
Then, I had a great epiphany! I realized no one would ever come to rescue me; I had to save myself and be my own knight! The moment of truth lit my path and beckoned me to be strong and brave. Even though I was shaking on the inside and carried some self-doubt, I was now driven with a new purpose. If I were going to change my life and ease my pain, then I would have to stand strong and persevere all expected storms. I would have to slay the dragon and deliver myself to safety because no one else would or could. That great epiphany, the glorious moment of truth and self-realization, propelled me forward to face all of my enormous enemies and obstinate obstacles, both external and internal. I became my own hero to save myself. I climbed the great Mount Epiphany! Once I had reached the top, I could relax and breathe; while looking down I was amazed at the steep climb and the fact that indeed I had made it. It was a great feeling of accomplishment that matured my outlook on the world and changed my perspective and life forever.
I had won my great battle, along with little battles, and along the way I discovered rewards and treasures that now fill my life. This does not mean my life is suddenly easy or luxurious. There are small daily struggles and battles that need to be overcome to keep my life on its course. However, my epiphany has led me to become the captain of my own ship, and I plot my own course despite fighting against the waves and having to reset my course along the way.
Another realization, or epiphany, revealed itself after I had championed my cause and had apparently won. However, this victory was bitter-sweet as in order to gain my freedom and dignity, I had to sacrifice some things that pierced my heart and racked my soul. It was both a time of immense relief and a time of great sorrow. What a paradox! But then nothing of value in life comes without a price. I embraced my new future while having some moments of sadness. However, life is constantly changing so I’m reassured that I will regain my losses in other ways. Sometimes we have to just roll with the river and flow into the unknown while being thankful to have survived this game of life with only a few “injuries”.
Surely there are more epiphanies to come, as I am continuously gaining knowledge, even self-knowledge, until I reach my grave. However, this pivotal epiphany was a major shift in my thinking and in changing the course of my life. It was the wake-up call I needed to fully realize my self-worth and how to stand up for myself. This monumental epiphany put me on my chosen path to reach my purpose in this life.