On May 7th 2017, at around 3:30 pm, I was assaulted with a weapon by a man while on a run in Barcelona.
“ Don’t look at me! Give me your phone! I said give me your phone!”
“ Run and don’t look back!”
I had plans to meet up with my friend * Jane for lunch later that day. I had just come back from a short trip to Paris where I met up with a friend from Los Angeles. I was eager to head to a nearby cafe with Jane and share my stories and pictures with another fellow traveler.
I had been living exactly one month in Barcelona when the assault happened. The city that opened its doors to me just 6 years ago as a young university student , now left me afraid and traumatized to leave my apartment.
Barcelona offered me the opportunity to experience a fresh new start. I wanted to live slower paced life and experience this city like a local. I was tired of the rat race in the U.S. I had for years put the wants and needs of others beyond my own personal pursuits and desires. It was not only a social and family pressure, I couldn’t wait any longer for “life” to happen. I knew that in years time, I would look back and regret having never made this leap of faith.
For the past year my mantra had become “ You can’t grow where you are comfortable”.
I booked a one-way ticket and I was gone.
I find myself now living my “dream”. I gave up a comfortable life back in Denver. I had decent corporate job, really great friends…but I wasn't fully satisfied with the direction of my life. In economics we learn about opportunity costs, what we can lose by choosing “X” over “Y”. In other words, I was experiencing FOMO as millennials would say—-Fear of Missing Out.
Traveling solo won’t always be everyone’s cup of tea. Travel is supposed to challenge us, but in my extreme case it shook me to my core. I was stripped of my control and well being in that instant. I tried as much as I could to hold back the tears and not book a ticket back home. For days I could hear this man’s voice in my head, his arms and hands around my neck and body, while holding that knife to my throat and yelling at me. I went through all the emotions of fear, anger, paranoia, shame. I was angry that as a women, I couldn't leave my house during the light of day without fear of someone endangering me. I was mad that I didn’t run faster that day. “ For heaven sakes…I ran a half marathon last year!” I though of countless scenarios of what I could have done differently that day. But the honest truth is there wasn't anything in my power I could have done differently. I did NOTHING wrong. It could have happened to anyone else like the women walking with her toddler that I deterred from danger.
I learned many valuable lessons that day. For one, I learned how much I do value my life, as mundane as it may be somedays, it’s still my life. Although I want to think of myself as invincible its important to be cautious of your surroundings no matter how “safe” a city can be, danger can lie anywhere and everywhere. Material possessions can be replaced but not your life.
Most importantly in times of danger its important to stay calm in times of trouble. If you need to take a few days to process what has happened, do it. Be loving, and forgiving to yourself. Do things that make you happy and try to surround yourself with good people, good music or things that will bring you peace.
Sometimes we have to “run and not look back”. Letting fear dictate your life is not living. There are still good people in the world. I've met them, I am one. I do believe that there are challenges that are placed in our lives that help prepare us to face other demons and without those experiences, we might not otherwise be prepared to fight the good fight.
To that man who turned my world upside down, I forgive you.
To God, I thank you for seeing after my health and wellbeing. To my friends and family, thank you for your words of encouragement.
To the free spirits, crazy ones and dreamers…I will see you back on the road!
*Name has been changed for privacy