October 2, 2013 was the day I woke up only to find my life was about to fall apart. My biggest worry that morning was a history paper that was due the following day. Twelve hours later, I was without university, homeless, and the people I thought mattered the most back then turned their backs on me.
At least I didn't have to finish that boring essay anymore.
I won't go into details on how it all happened because it seems like history now. It was all due to lack of planning on my part, and thinking the whole world was at my feet without wanting to put much effort in myself.
I was just a lost 18-year-old who wasn't ready for life.
What I wish I would have known back then is that I was about to be reborn. That my life was being shaped to what it was meant to be in the first place.
University was never something I wanted to pursue. WhenI was 11, I told my father I would never finish school and I would instead travel the world taking pictures.
But I grew up, and growing up means forgetting what really matters. You grow up and you think the things you need are what everyone else has, and what everyone else thinks you should have and the person everyone thinks you should be.
That night, I booked a flight to Mexico City with the last $200 I had to my name. I needed to be around people who loved me, and I needed time to recollect my feelings before attempting to take any steps.
A month later, I flew to Florida, where my mother was living at the time. I was still unsure what to do then. I got a job at the nearest Dollar Tree store as a cashier, and then a second job at a second-hand clothes shop.
I saved my own money, and thanks to the help from many people, I was on my way to London a few months later to study a three-month-long course in the heart of Soho. I didn't have enough money for accommodation, but I knew I had to do it. Instead of renting a flat, I would spend the night in strangers' houses, and I would move every 3-4 days to a new home. During these months, I met some of the most amazing characters - first was Stuart, a guy who ended up putting me up for a month and is still to date on my best friends. After he finished his master's degree in architecture, he worked for one of the most prestigious architecture companies in London, which he ditched a year later to travel the world after he broke up with his girlfriend. There was Andy, who hosted me in an expensive apartment overlooking the London Eye. There was Jane, an American girl who was working for Apple. There was Anne, a Mexican girl who was living with a dodgy fashion photographer in Hackney.
It was London that taught me how possible travel was.
On weekends, I would fly to far-off places. It was cheaper to go to Eastern Europe, than staying in the city. I went to Düsseldorf to celebrate carnival, I went to Prague, I fell in love with Zagreb and went with my new friend Anne to Wales, where we spent the weekend going into bars to save money on accommodation.
Traveling didn't cost a fortune after all.
And then London was over. I flew back to Mexico, feeling lost again.
I enrolled in university again and became an intern at my uncle's company.
But London had spoiled me. Normal didn't suit me anymore. I had seen a part of the world and I wanted to see it all.
I began hosting couch surfers at home and would gorge one their travel stories. I wanted the same. I cravedthe road.
I saved up a few pesos and flew to Peru.
After South America, it was all over for me. I couldn't lead a normal life anymore.
I spent the next few months freelancing online and saving every single cent. My aim: booking a flight to Europe and see where the winds would take me.
I spent a month traveling Mexico and central America before that, I wanted to get to know my own roots before seeing the rest of the world.
And then I flew to Madrid.
I had $1000 to my name at that time. It wasn't easy, but I made it work. After two months, things got darker. The money was running out, I was traveling with a girl I didn't connect much with, and I began thinking this had all been a terrible idea. Petrol stations and bus terminals became my home. How could I ever think that I, out of all people, could pull something like this off?
I wanted to go home.
But I kept going. I met a boy I never stopped loving, and then I left. I worked in a refugee camp in Croatia before an opportunity in Thailand arose.
And then I moved to Thailand. And in Thailand, I was offered a job that would take me across three continents taking pictures and documenting my experiences.
A year and a half later, after seeing southeast Asia on assignment, I flew to Germany. I still missed that boy with all my heart. I didn't tell him I was flying to him, I told him it was all "work". I didn't know what would happen, or if he even still liked me.
But that has always been me - I have never used my head much and always followed my heart.
Vincent offered to pick me up and the airport and we never separated for three months. We started a business together and I found support and a home in him.
I went to Africa to continue my work then. A six-month trip that I broke up in half to be able to go to Europe and see him. During this time, we travelled to Morocco together and I could see how we were both shaping each other and bringing out the best of us - together.
Today, I am the happiest I have ever been.
Had things gone the way I had planned back then, I would have just graduated university and would likely be looking desperately for a job in the city, always pushing travel back, always limiting my potential, always putting aside the things my heart craved desperately for.
I wish I would have known that life was taking things from me in order to give space to the things that were really meant for me. I would have a boring job now and barely any life experience. I would have never spent a year living in Thailand, or hitchhiked my way through Europe. I would not be in a tiny town in Tanzania writing this now. I would have never met the love of my life. I wouldn't be worried about crossing the border to Malawi and rushing to make it to the ferry to Cape Mclear in time.
My only worry now is the number of options I have. The whole world is at my feet and I can go, do, and be whoever I want to be. If there is one thing I have is absolute freedom.
I am writing this to show you that anything you want in life is possible, regardless of who you are or what you want. The key to achieving your full potential is to stop fearing the unknown, so book that flight, quit your job, apply for that internship you are afraid of, send your work to a magazine even if you don't think it's good enough.
Whatever it is you want in life is awaiting you on the other side of fear.