“My mother left for the United States while I stayed back to finish my studies. The plan was to join her after high school. So I enrolled in a college where she was and left home after 17 years. When I got there, it was all new and exciting. There are mountains where she lives, so for a few days, I felt at home. But when I started going to college, I just didn’t fit in. I felt a huge wave of culture shock. Mummy was busy with her own work and I had to go through the newness of everything alone. Additionally, because I didn’t live in the dorms, I had trouble making friends. My peers were so independent. They just came to class by themselves and left on their own. There were very less opportunities for me to interact with anyone. I loved football, so in hopes that I’d learn a little and also make friends, I joined a football class. But the coach would say “Make your own team and play”. I was always chosen last. And when I got into a team by default, they’d hardly pass the ball to me. Games would end with me just standing on the field. I eventually dropped the class.

Although I was doing very well academically, I missed emotional clarity. I lost touch with my friends here. Eventually, I just felt like I couldn’t do it. So I made the difficult choice to come back to Bhutan, dropping out a year into my studies. I felt relief when I got here, but there was also sadness. I’d met my mother after 3 years, and had wanted to stay with her. I wondered if I’d made a mistake coming back, if I could’ve held on for longer. I also faced various other emotional challenges on the way after that. But a few years later now, I’ve graduated college in the country. Like every other person, I’m worried about what comes next. But everyone has a destiny, and everything in life has taught me that I’ll find my way too. I’ve learnt that it’s most important to take care of yourself. You can push through things and try to make it work, but emotional unhappiness can really weigh you down. Mental wellbeing is more important than materialistic benefits. And I’m really grateful that I’ve made it to a place in life where I can vouch for that.”

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