*Warning! Naughty language.
I believe you get to walk this earth twice in your lifetime.
The first you walk like an ugly little duckling tripping over yourself down the path others carve out for you. Not quite fitting in here and not quite good enough there.
The second time, you walk like a swan, dancing your awkward little dance down the pathless road you carve out for yourself.
These are the stories I carved on the walls as I walked solo down my true path, a guide for those who walk after me, fighting their own inner turmoil.
When I woke up to myself in 2016 after a brief brush with wrongfully prescribed medication and suicide, I decided to sell everything I own to move to Spain. Since then, my life has been an awkward little dance of giant leaps forward and 10 steps back.
One big cocktail party, really.
This is a real tale of self-discovery, devastation, love, moving halfway across the world with nothing, and my journey into the unknown, becoming the girl I always dreamed and somehow amongst all of the chaos, knew I could be.
I thought my vulnerability was a curse but it is now one of my biggest assets. Growth is never comfortable, but it isn’t meant to be. Finally, I stopped being a victim to the grind and became my own best friend.
My name is Katie and welcome to my twisted fucking fairy tale.
Come in! Come in!
One day you will wake up (to yourself), having everything you thought you wanted. Living the life you always dreamed of—the rat race.
There will be a certain misery hidden like a shadow in the back of your cervical cortex, not quite in sight, slightly out of your vision, but you know it is there.
You will arise one morning. Mutter “fuck this” for the final time.
You will push up your sleeves.
You will sell everything you own.
Buy a ticket to Spain. Jump on a plane.
Leaving behind everyone and everything you have ever known.
And you will have no idea what the fuck you are doing.
But, you will see the world.
Meet new people.
Realise no matter where you go, your troubles will follow you and people will still hurt you.
But let me tell you, it is far better to have a bad day in Spain than anywhere else in the world.
You will fall in love with a French.
And have your heart ripped out.
You will hit rock bottom but,
You will refuse to give up this dream.
You will cling onto it so hard you will leave claw marks.
You will fall in love with strangers 20 times a day.
You will love an Italian, a Latino, and a Portuguese.
You will lose your phone, your wallet, and yourself in the darkness of new cities.
But other days, you will get lost in the beauty of the streets, exchanging smiles with strangers passing by, mmm you could live on a solid diet of this for the rest of your days.
You will miss planes and catch the wrong trains in foreign countries.
You will have big failures that make the small wins taste so much sweeter.
You will spend all of your money on wine and plane tickets and realise olives and flirty Italian bartenders make a great dinner.
You will run out of money and run back to what you once considered “home,” reducing yourself to one single instinct:
“Get back to Europe.”
You will connect with old friends and smile inside.
You will see just how far you have come…
Just how unique and spectacular your journey has been.
You will realise that no material item is worth more than the sights you have seen, the food you have indulged in, and the conversations that caressed your tired soul like a warm blanket.
You will fall in love with yourself because you got through.
You will become the person you always believed you could be.
And you will get to wake up and be that person every day for the rest of your life.
Now tell me: how could you ever put a price on that?
Love comes in many shapes and forms.
This is my shape. This is its form.
Growth and other stories is a zine by Katie Valentine