So I told you guys I am now living on a farm and taking care of animals that were abandoned. I love them all and they’re helping me heal from all my pain from when I was living in Syria. I love it here in America. This country grows on me every day. Growing up I used to hear horrible stories about this country. I used to believe them too. The men in Syria used to say that America was no good and that it had to be destroyed as soon as possible. Looking back I just can’t imagine why the men would say that. America is such a peaceful country. It’s not perfect but there are no laws requiring me to wear clothes that even cover my face.

So living on the farm for about five months now, I can say my strength in discovering who I really am is improving. I know I’m not what most women here are like. I’m not white, I’m not black, I’m not even Asian or Latino. I’m a Syrian girl who is living on a farm all by herself. I’m not married.

However I met this nice young African American man named Alfonso. He owns a barber shop and has a catalog about cool hairstyles for black men. He does really well with his shop. He has regulars and new people come into the barber shop for their hair cuts. I’m actually really happy for him.

He’s convinced me it’s ok to wear just a T-shirt and jeans and he’s even convinced me I can wear a short skirt to show off my legs a little. He believes my legs are beautiful. All the men including my father always told me a woman should cover herself from head to toe. They also said America and the rest of the western world had to go because they allowed their women to wear whatever they want. I was always told it was morally wrong for a woman to wear whatever she wanted. But meeting Alfonso was different. He believed a woman has the right to wear whatever she wants.

Since then I’ve gone against everything I believed in and started to wear more jeans and just a T-shirt. I’ve even shown my face more and worn my hair down. I love showing my long hair in public. I get so many compliments it’s amazing. The women here in America love to comment on each other’s looks and even gossip about each other. The thing I love about my animals, they don’t do that, they don’t care what I look like as long as I feed and take care of them.

Everything I feared about this country has turned out to be better than my own country. Syria is full of threats and there are no women wearing just jeans and t-shirts. It’s quite the opposite here. I can happily walk around in what I want and not worry about getting killed for going against my country and religion.

I know a lot of people are probably wondering where I’ve been. My travels throughout the Middle East were eye-opening, inspiring, at times painful and traumatic, and ultimately, a chapter in my life that has now closed.

I’ve been trying to settle down in the United States for the past year. I stayed a short while in South Florida to gather my bearings, but couldn’t deal with all the insane people that live there. It’s true what they say about “Florida Man”.

The more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite my efforts to settle down, it’s become a regular routine for me to throw all of my earthly possessions into a Uhaul truck. Finding a good discount always helps, fortunately.

I still haven’t found myself. I am completely without direction. Maybe I’ll go into the wild and live from the land. Maybe I’ll start my own farm and raise pigs. Maybe I’ll join a drilling operation in North Dakota and work with my hands. Maybe I’ll try my hand at busking and depend upon the kindness of strangers, as a sort of sociological experiment.

It’s scary sometimes. But it’s also very liberating. So many people live their lives in fear. Fear of where their next paycheck will come from, fear of oppressive governments, fear of their health and safety, or even the mundane “first-world” feel of getting stuck in a rut. It feels like you’re drowning, as though there is no hope in sight.

This is the sort of fear I vow to conquer. I can’t say for sure where this road ultimately leads for me, but I can tell you that it won’t a journey of bondage and guilt. No shame for disappointing others, no nagging worries about making mistakes. You must fight by taking chances. Because ultimately, that fear can paralyze you. It makes you afraid to make those risks, and without risks, there are no rewards.

If you’re reading this now, and you feel stuck, I implore you to fight. Don’t accept a circumstance of wanting. There is always more you can do. There is always time and energy to strive for your dreams. And you must have a dream. Maybe this all sounds fanciful, like a corny motivational speech. But it’s the truth. No matter who you are in this world, you must have a dream. And there is always value in hope. Cherish it. Nurture it. FIGHT for it.