Ad Astra Per Aspera

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This beautiful Latin line roughly translates into “A bumpy path leads to the stars”. My bestest friend who has been roughing it out in the US of A for about sixteen months has been the inspiration to this post.

The exhilaration that follows a long struggle, the quiet slightly unbelievable relief after a series of attempts is precious. It is not just about accomplishment but the journey of discovering yourself and your capacity to endure. These moments show you what you are actually made of – they don’t teach any new lessons, just facilitate to uncover chapters of your personality.

Where is the fun if one leap brought you face to face with your desire? If a regular progression opened the doors to the very opportunity you have been waiting for? Is it truly a pure victory if all you had to do was take a stroll and hop over a few bumps? Where is that sense of “I have arrived!”? They call it luck and there are always people who have that knack…. Till a while back I was one of them except for this one phase which changed everything I had ever taken for granted.

But this is about my friend. And her determination, perseverance and faith over the last ten years to make her dreams of practicing medicine come to life with vibrant colours. She is one of those geniuses; her brain has a Midas touch. She has been almost flawless in her academic performance, almost unparalleled to anyone else I even vaguely know. But on a personal front, she has had her share of demons. Some of them may be uncalled for and of her own making but they were there piling up like a jenga stack. And one mistake had the whole thing crumbling down.

And she made me understand that the struggle is real – they make a great story but play havoc as it is being plotted. They inspire mostly in retrospection. There are days when you want to throw in the towel and give up all your dreams. Where you start questioning the sanity of your goals and check each of the seventy seven thousands steps you have taken to get there. There is a knife stained with defeat hovering over your head that becomes a predominant part of your nightmares. And of course, there is always the trap of seeking comfort in unwelcome and wrong arms. Mistakes are great but some turn in catastrophes where you lose your faith, confidence, self-respect and even a sense of identity. It is a deep well where no sunlight reaches and making your way out takes up energy, hope and courage.

I saw her go through this and emerge with happy tears, exhausted mind and a thankful heart.

Is she unscathed? No.

Is she recovered? No.

Is she victorious? Not exactly.

It was not a battle where a victor emerged. She is a survivor who got eliminated the battle. And finally she is on a smooth track where the destination is closer, clearer and friendlier. She is being real about it – given a choice, she would want to cut down on a few mistakes. She will prefer a slightly easier way of learning the lessons that came her way and not all at one tight go!

What is her plan now as she takes a moment to take stock and look at her little worn and bit torn self? To keep breathing and to keep moving. With a few glasses of wine, Netflix and some good company.

After all… Priorities.