'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9
32. I got a little reflective on the train home and posted about it…

I went home this weekend for the first time since Christmas, exactly one year since my too-near-brush with death, I guess to regroup and recharge with a few days of isolation and little technology. Maybe I should have gone away alone rather than listening to my parent(s) recount the events but the weekend in my quiet, never-changing home town has given me a lot of time for reflection. And the overriding conclusion has been: spending a few days with my life literally in the balance at twenty years old was and will continue to be the making of me.

I’ve learnt that my resilience and grit is almost limitless. I’ve learnt that I’m much stronger than I ever thought I was (and I thought I was pretty damn strong to begin with). I’ve learnt that the people you have around you are important (though some times it’s better to surround yourself with no one) and I’m grateful for the very few who stuck this out without leaving. And moreover, I’m proud of myself for everything I’ve managed to achieve despite 16 years of a chronic illness, 5 years of another and 1 year of a life threatening one.

I’m proud that I had the shake up I needed to not settle on a degree that wasn’t challenging or fulfilling. I’m proud that I completed a two year extra A Level in six months to change to the perfect programme for me despite being nearly bedridden. I’m proud of my incredibly fulfilling job that has taught me more about myself than I thought possible (and I’m thankful to them for supporting me the whole way through). I’m proud that I know whatever happens with my degree there’s a job there waiting for me that brings great opportunities. I’m proud that at twenty one I’m financially independent of my family. I’m proud of my little flat in London and I wouldn’t move back home for anything (though visiting is nice). I’m proud that I’m healing myself and slowly regaining my health through pure grit and resolve.

I don’t spend enough time looking back on what’s happened or my ‘achievements’. I just focus on what’s next, what can I do better, how can I grow in some way. And because of that, it’s easy to forget the good things that have happened.

Now remembering those good things, and remembering the circumstances I achieved them in, I have nothing but overwhelming hope and excitement for what’s to come. If I can do those things while I’m no where near to functioning like a normal human being, what can I do when I am?

And I realise that I’ve finally understood and started to live by a motto I’ve always loved: what would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail? What would you attempt to do if you weren’t afraid? Now, when I’m afraid to take the leap or make a huge change in life, I can look back and know I will never be more scared than I was that night one year ago, and because of that, I’m not afraid any more.

'Free' by Zoe Ghertner for The Gentlewoman, Issue 9