My eighteenth birthday was one unlike most others probably had. I woke up surrounded by people who loved me. My sister, my father, my uncle, and my grandfather. But i was missing a few. My two younger brothers were not there, they were with my mom about an hour away from where we were staying at my grandpas. My mom, who now that I was eighteen, wanted nothing to do with me. I was now an advocate voice for my father during their divorce process and no longer her “baby girl.” I was not allowed to see my brothers until a few days later when my father was allowed to move back into our family house, where he had been previously been kicked out of for a few months. My word versus your word when the only other witnesses around were minors is a funny game. And it’s in those moments where the sexist world we live in really shines bright. The age change meant I had to grow up very fast and deal with lawyers, police officers, counselors, and so much more that most would never have to imagine to do at that age.
Unlike others I didn’t go out to a club, I didn’t party wildly with friends, I just stayed in and hungout with the family I had around me. We celebrated with a cake and presents. But it was in that moment that I opened a card from my dad that I really began to feel like I was 18 and finally about to venture out into the world and make a name for myself. That I could finally take my life into my own hands and live for myself. I opened the card to read “Syd, you have the whole world in front of you. Go and make it your own.” Along with that my dad gave me the best gift ive ever received, my passport.
Flash forward and i’m now almost twenty-four years old and have visited more than 10 countries all on my own. And this is my story about traveling as a young woman alone, dancing down sketchy streets, drinking new beers with new friends, figuring out who I am, learning to fight for each others rights, learning to become a better person, and to help others in need and to really value what matters in life and to continuously find new roads to venture down every damn day of my life.