As most probably know or figured out, my Dragons journey ended a little bit earlier than everyone else’s. Due to some medical complications, I returned to Nashville (yeehaw) at the beginning of November. Leaving Morocco was the last thing I wanted to do, but I knew it was most important to take care of myself. Inshallah, I will return to this incredible country soon.
My return to the States was confusing. From the lack of bread in my house to the absence of foreign languages around me at all times, I definitely experienced reverse culture shock. My home felt like a fresh new pair of my favorite sneakers: exciting, comfortable, and shinier than before. But new shoes take a while to break in, and I’ve had my fair share of metaphorical blisters upon my return. Saying bismillah before the Thanksgiving meal earned some teasing from my relatives; using Darija catchphrases quickly turns heads in the South. I recognized my surroundings, yet I’d find myself perplexed by the places I knew like the back of my hand. Finally having Spotify again didn’t help abate the anxiety I felt being back “on the grid.” I missed the tiny universe we’d created on course that perfectly complemented the massive sky around us. I sometimes grew angry and upset at both myself and the turn of events: why did things happen this way? Why did they happen to me? These new shoes made my feet sore. I felt confused as to where I was, and I was dumbfounded as to who I was.
However, I was not completely consumed by worry. (Hamdullah!) My disappointment and confusion coexisted with, and was even overshadowed by, a newfound inner peace and sense of gratitude. I had spent two months in one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I had gained friends and family across the globe. I even could write people’s names in Arabic (Badr, I wasn’t kidding when I said this would be my new party trick)! My newfound love for olives and dates could be fulfilled at the local grocery store; my family even brought out old china that resembled a Moroccan tea serving setup. Once I realized my time abroad and my time at home did not have to exist in a binary, I felt empowered. I had done a big, beautiful thing. We have all done this big, beautiful thing.
I spend my days now working for a family friend, preparing for my return to school in January, and snuggling my cat (the attached photo is of us the day I got home). I am happy to announce I am no longer in the boot and on crutches — my fractures have almost completely healed!
In the grand scheme of things, my time with Dragons facilitated the growth of clarity within myself and my decisions that I would have never obtained otherwise. The cliches of “losing yourself in order to find yourself” exist for a reason: it happens to the luckiest of us. So to all my fellow Dragons (and Instructors!), congratulations on completing the course. I couldn’t be prouder of all of you, and I’m sending so much love from across the ocean. I can’t wait to hear from all of you soon. You are all officially dubbed Mr. Worldwide in my book 😉