Once upon a time, there lived a princess.
She lived in a tower. A beautiful tower. A tower that provided her with safety and security and comfort.
She had food and shelter, and she was safe. She didn’t really need to strive for anything.
In this tower, she was safely ensconced in her comfort zone.
She thought that she would stay there forever.
Every day, she would look out onto the forest from her tower and wonder about the great, big world out there.
She would fantasize about this world—the freedom and possibility that existed outside this tower.
And then she would think: I wouldn’t be able to manage out there on my own anyway.
Maybe I don’t deserve that life of freedom.
I’m safe here, and—I don’t know how to get out of here anyway…
If she was really honest with herself though, she knew there was a way out.
But that way out involved going through a tunnel. The tunnel where she would have to face her greatest fears. Her darkest depths. It involved having to contact all her emotions—not just the superficially happy, everything-is-okay-bordering-on-numbness ones she lived with in the tower.
It involved facing her scariest thoughts—the ones that tormented her when she let down her guard. The ones that woke her up at 3 a.m.
There was no way she thought she could make it through the tunnel.
So she kept on living. Not exactly miserable, but not turned on by life either. Slightly lonely. Cut off. Trying to convince herself that everything was all right.
Until one day, the tower started to feel more like a prison than a home.
What once felt safe now felt small. Oppressive even.
And the world out there—that world seemed so wild and free. It called to her. A whisper at first, that kept getting louder and louder the more she listened to it. She wanted that life of freedom.
She needed to get out of the tower.
Yet she couldn’t face the tunnel.
So she started looking for another way out. A ladder, a rope—any other way.
But there was no other way out, and deep down inside she already knew this. Still, she kept seeking, unready to accept that the tunnel was the only way out.
Until one day she stopped fighting this reality.
She realized that the tunnel was the way. And that maybe, just maybe, instead of resisting this, she could help herself prepare for it.
And so she found a backpack and she started filling it.
She filled it with self-care and self-compassion and ways of dealing with the scary thoughts and feelings.
She watered the backpack with love and tears and the promise to herself that she would not run from these parts of herself—her thoughts and memories and fears—no matter how scary they seemed.
That she was willing to embrace the darkness so she could live a life of meaning and purpose and freedom.
She built a compass which pointed her in the direction of what mattered most to her: This life of connection and freedom and meaning and true aliveness she so craved. This compass reminded her of why she was facing the tunnel. It reminded her to keep going—it told her why she was facing this tunnel.
And as she crafted the items in her backpack, she noticed that her confidence grew.
Not in the chest thumping, I’m-the-best kind of way, not in the feel-good-all-the-time kind of way either—but into a quiet confidence that said: As long as I have me, as long as I hold my own hand through this, I can do anything.
This quiet confidence said: I have my own back. I’ve got this.
Because nobody else could do it for her.
And one day, everything was ready. Her backpack was ready. Her compass was there. She knew she simply needed to make this choice. She needed to say yes.
Looking outside her window, she remembered why she was doing this.
She didn’t actually feel ready, but she knew she never would anyway.
And so she said yes. She said yes to growth and change and all the discomfort that inevitably comes with it—and slowly, carefully, she took her backpack and her compass and she took the first step into the tunnel.
Author: Hiba Samawi
Image: Author’s Own
Editor: Travis May