From Scotland to Pakistan, My Journey to Solitude
By  Ishrat Ansari  

An epiphany results in one deciding their goals in life. It dictates your thought-process in a way that it becomes your aim in life to achieve it. Hence, I had my epiphany while I watching a drama being shot in  Scotland.

We all go through the phase where we believe certain actions might be the solutions to our problems. My aim in life was to live in the beautiful territory known as Scotland. The country brings with it allure and beauty in terms of nature, the magic of the landscape weaves into the minds of all the people who’ve visited this majestic piece of land on earth.

After working for a couple of years for an English newspaper, I had started applying for post-graduate programs. Finally, I received my acceptance from a university in Edinburgh, Scotland. I felt like all my prayers had been answered. I believed Scotland would satisfy the  craving for  independence in me. However, I had forgotten that with every action comes a reaction. Scotland too had a price for me to pay.

While I was  busy packing  and preparing to bid adieu to Pakistan and set on this self-actualizing journey, I bragged about the bigger picture that came with this opportunity, and that was  travelling across Europe . But, I overlooked one vital fact, how long can I live  away from my family ?

I entered the university of my dreams and embraced the architectural beauty, in addition to the stunning scenic beauty this land had to offer. I had it all going for me. I mingled with people from different ethnicities and backgrounds, each presenting a flavor of their region, be it Estonia, America, China, Spain, Netherlands or Northern Ireland.

On the other hand, as a  Pakistani woman , I thought it was my duty to portray my land as a liberal progressive country, unlike the strong misconceived notion in regards to women oppression.

During the day time, university life was surely exciting due to the variety of its classes and lectures; however, the evenings were torturous. Little did I know that the same burgers, pastas and pizzas that were once the permanent fixtures in my cravings would be replaced by homemade daal chawal, which I used to detest back home. I was  homesick .

I was living in this beautiful place called Currie Vale in Edinburgh for three weeks. The commute from the bus stop to my place was quiet a long walk. It was awfully dark when I left, and equally dark when I arrived. The stress of adjusting to a land where you’re a complete stranger ends up taking a toll. I despised the long walks. I hated the darkness. I felt as if I live in a haunted house and the howling winds further strengthened my fear.

The leaves I imagined walking barefoot on were merely a figment of my imagination. I was drowned in my books and studies. All the beauty I was surrounded with did not move me, specifically not the way I had thought they would. None of this majestic beauty touched me. I was alone.

After graduation, I moved to London in sight of better opportunities. I worked in London for two years; I did have my share of fun there, but only on the weekdays. The loneliness and boredom did bounce back again on the weekends.

The feeling of loneliness was not only unbearable, but even highly daunting. It was high time for me to pack my bags and  return to my homeland , Pakistan. I believed I would achieve my solace by returning to my family, or for that matter, starting my own family.

I decided to get married, as I felt this would put an end to my loneliness. I was wrong. Marriage was  not the solution . In fact, this journey also has its share of ups and downs. I was suicidal and this agony is what brought me face to face with the harsh reality – depression. I was  depressed .

I replaced this realization with walking and  exercising,  which turned out to be a good decision. I made some really good friends in these morning walks. Writing became my medium to vent my inner feelings. Time heals the deepest wounds; it even cured my depression.

My two cents to the readers is that if any of you do feel the same emotion, do not think  anti-depressants  are the cure. Search for options that provide long-term solutions to your problems. Get busy, do something entertaining, anything that you enjoy, cut ties with toxic relations that bring negativity in your life, work towards achieving beauty inside-out, make your soul strong in order to face all the hardships that would come your way.

My journey of self-discovery has not been easy. It has been a  bumpy ride of solitude , but the destination is what matters, and I achieved that. I found peace.

I hope that all of you reach your destinations too. Bon Voyage! - The Express Tribune (The author works at The Express Tribune)



Editor: Akhtar M. Faruqui
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