Silvana has been a consistent member with NP Montreal for over a year. She us well known for her exuberant laughter, warm smile, and early morning enthusiasm. She has a personality like caffeine, perking up all those around her and as a co-lead, I know I can count on her to keep the vibe high each week. In today’s blog, Silvana tells her story of how she came to NP and what it has come to mean to her. She reminds us that we all come to NP for different reasons, but once there, we all belong.
When I decided to study abroad, it was a very big decision for me. I dared to leave my comfort zone, but I did it with fear. Fear of feeling lonely and homesick, fear of regretting every decision that led me here and honestly, fear of failing at “adulting”. But something was even more powerful to me, my grandma was 99 when I left. I just couldn’t deal with the fact that I might not see her again. I decided to talk to her, and she told me to start living my dreams and to be brave. So, I did and moved to Montreal.
The first weeks I couldn’t sleep and couldn’t eat. I have never felt so lonely in my life. Also, I’m an only child so I never had to share anything with anyone and here I was, sharing a room with another girl who was far from home, who seemed to be suffering just as I was; we just didn’t feel comfortable enough to share our despair.
Mostly, my days were school, home, school, home… Little by little, I started making new friends and then a really good friend told me of a weird fitness community he used to be part of when he was living in Boston and that was also happening in Montreal… November Project.
I am not exaggerating when I say it was a “before” and an “after”. In NP, I found extraordinary people who made me feel like I could belong somewhere in this city. A safe place to express my emotions and not feel embarrassed every time I laugh and snort (Oops!).
I remember The Crate Escape run as if it was yesterday. Some NP members were sharing their “game changing moments”. That particular week had been very difficult because I was feeling so homesick that I could barely keep the tears away. Anyway, I just showed up! I felt so inspired by their stories and everyone was so kind that I decided I wanted to share something as well.
I obviously cried while talking and I was being so ridiculous that I thought maybe someone would laugh, but instead, they just came to me and hugged me until I stopped crying. It was amazing, it really warmed my heart. And then I understood the real meaning of NP: It wasn’t just a workout, it was people accepting you for who you are and what’s in your heart, people that actually care. After those dark and sad first months, everything got better.
But some time later, I had to face one of my worst fears. A few days before my birthday I got a phone call saying that my grandma was very sick. Long story short, she miraculously waited for me and I got to be there with her until the end. When I came back to Montreal, I couldn’t find the way of opening myself to let the grieve start. Not until an NP morning when I was running with Sophie. I guess feeling that I was in my safe place, surrounded by people that I trust, made it possible for me to break and maybe feel that those beautiful souls around me weren’t going to let me fall. And they didn’t.
After the experience of the NP Snow Globe event, my heart feels so full! I am so lucky for having the Montreal tribe in my life and so lucky to have met all those wonderful people from the other cities. We all come from very different backgrounds and our lives could not be more different but in the end, we all find friendship, fun, freedom and acceptance in our local NP crew. We all belong. Looking back, I find that joining NP was my “game changing moment”.
On a happier note, NP also helped me love one of the most difficult things there is in Montreal, the winter. Thanks to this amazing tribe I learned how to dress properly for the cold, how to safely walk in winter and then how to run in the snow! I never imagined I could do all those things! The first time I ran in my life was in September 2017 to get to NP and by April 2018, with the love and support of Camilo, Jemal, Sophie and Mehrsa, I ran my first 10k! I couldn’t walk the next week, but it was completely worth it – This year I’ll be running my first 21k!
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