By April

Anita Yan Chen - Senegal


January 13, 2016

By April, I will have received a new name. I don’t know what it will be, but I know that person who awaits me on the other side of this journey, will be vastly different, a leveled up version of me. More resilient, more prone to laughter, more accepting of herself and of what she doesn’t understand. That person, especially on the bad days, is kind and patient and gracious to herself. She knows when to take a step back, and when to challenge her beliefs and stretch her heart. She holds moments with a white-knuckled grip. She still sings – louder now, with less doubt, less inhibition. She is less afraid of change, knowing that it is the only way to grow. Day after day she chooses to be courageous and finds joy in the little victories. That person, probably still has no clue what she’s going to do with her life, but she more willingly puts out her hands to catch – whatever may come.
By April, I will have a new name, and learn to love the way names come. At times with spontaneity, or because of strong tradition. Either way, I will take that foreign word and roll it over and over on my tongue until it is foreign no more. I’ll say, “Yes, this is for me, it is beautiful because you have made it so.”
I wrote that back in September. When I didn’t know the name I now call my own. When I had no idea what was in store for me. Nonetheless, I am proud to say that I’ve lived closely to the vision I hoped up for myself more than four months ago. The person I am at this very moment is a little wiser, a little wilder, a little more unevenly tan. I can’t wait to see who she’ll become in the coming months. Wait, scratch that. I can’t wait to see who she’ll become in the next week – no, tomorrow.
We are not who we were ten seconds ago. A wise man told me that in Dakar. We are constantly being molded and torn and sharpened and changed by the experiences that encounter us as well as the encounters we choose. And though it sounds pretty abstract, it’s very true. I choose grit over giving up every time I lace up my sneakers for a run. A seemingly small action like that, with consistency and commitment over time, will make endurance an inseparable part of me. Until it becomes the fiber of who I am, until perseverance is an instinct and fear is an afterthought.
So, to future me, to Adjidiatou Diallo, and to all the other names I may be called, keep your head up. It’s all so temporary. Find something to love about every moment. Be better than you were ten seconds ago. Stay true to your vision.

 

 

 

Anita Yan Chen