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How losing what I thought was everything in 2008 reminded me I will get through 2020.

A personal journey of resilience, dealing with grief and finding my voice in the height of chaos.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Community stories are not commissioned by our editorial team, and though they are reviewed for adherence to our guidelines, they are submitted in their final form to our open platform. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Nerissa J. Persaud, Writer, Thrive Global

I’m going to start by saying this—You Are Enough.

In the middle of April, I started a community initiative ‘find your power in the middle of chaos‘ as news of a pandemic wreaked havoc onto the lives of many. It wasn’t my intention to start a movement of any kind, all I knew at that time as I still do now, was that I needed to do my part. We had just lived through one month of an abrupt widespread shutdown to Canadian schools, parks, shopping centres, provincial and federal services, everything. Absolutely everything.

This was new territory, we were the real actors to a very difficult storyline. My children like most everyone else’s were suddenly at home full-time. There was a panic in the air of what are we going to do, the kids are home, careers are stalled and just like that, for the first time in a very long time, we were all forced to stand motionless and wait.

There was a fear that even a walk down the street might get you a hefty ticket from a passing peace officer for what was now being considered non-essential as social measures tightened. Barred from society conflicting with our very nature as social beings. Not a very peaceful feeling, is it? But as I looked at the peril of our world, I felt a similarity I hadn’t felt since I was a twenty-something-year-old young woman who had just lost at the time, what I thought was, everything.

I was practically living out of a suitcase somewhere over the Indian Ocean in my nomad lifestyle of travel and work far from the life I grew up, in South America. The financial crisis of 08’ was deepening when I got the dire news that the woman who had raised me, my grandmother, had died, after a difficult journey with breast cancer. As another 12 months went by I got a similar phone call, only this time, it was my mother who had suddenly passed away.

In the months to lead,  I felt a numbness overcome me. I was not sad, nor was I happy. There was no pain, nor was there joy. I was not aware; I was not present. It was a sort of limbo that I found myself deeply overshadowed. My fear was now I had no home to return. It was lonely. To me, I identified “home” as the people who made it home, and now everyone, the two most important people to me, my family, my home, were gone. It was the scariest moment of my life, yet as I looked around my current space, I had learned my first lesson: we must live to move onward, not to remain comforted through our existing dependency. Had I not had the will to leave the nest that I had grown so fondly attached in pursuit of my own path, dreams and aspirations, even if from a suitcase, my story may have been very different.

The healing took time, but in time I embraced my second lesson that found it’s way back into my reflection as I sorted old letters from a neatly packed box I consider “my treasures” the little things that have made their way along my journey from country to county. This had been a handwritten note I kept from one of the strongest women I knew, my grandmother, with the words: ‘‘while you are alive, live.’‘ There was so much more to those words than they seemed. And so, in those moments, I made the decision to live. Not in the pure sense of staying alive floating through life’s ins and outs but to become the life I knew deep down I needed to be in order to serve my purpose.

Making that decision to live through my moment of crisis, meant the only choices I had were the ones that would stem from the question, what else is there that I can do; giving renewed hope to everything I did and finding new ways of living a life I loved.

By overcoming my obstacles: the ones we get thrown and the ones we often throw ourselves, I realized my chaos at an earlier age made me feel somewhat comfortable in the height of the chaos today. Or as I call it, being comfortable in discomfort and though very different on many levels to what we’ve all experienced throughout 2020, it allowed me to think without the dependency that crippled much of our ability to see beyond.

I knew immediately I needed to speak up and use this insight to help bring a similar clarity to so many who were feeling lost, confused, scared, uncertain and absolutely defeated by their moment in time. I realized more than anything else, when we are faced with crises, these are the deafening questions that are always present:

What will become of me? Will I be forgotten? Will I be nothing?

It made me realize that the sole reason we become trapped by this fear is due to what we place our power of self. We put it into houses, into cars, into shoes, into money, into brands, into vacations, into perception and everything and everyone else but ourselves. In everything but our potential or in our ability to transform, in our ability to learn from the discomfort. In everything but our power to evolve. Even though as humans, this is the one thing that we’ve been doing from the beginning of our time.

In an earlier piece, I stated: your power is not in your possessions, it is in knowing ‘If you lose it all today, you’ll be okay’ because you know, you’ll get back up – always.

I didn’t whimsically write these words, I’ve lived them, time and time again. But for now, my message to you is this: find your power by believing you are capable of contributing. That you are capable of rewriting your story or rerouting your path. That you are capable of starting the conversations to pivot into new waters, circles of thinking and purpose.

That you are capable of more. 

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