Updated: May 27, 2020
One Sunday afternoon in 1999, at 19 years of age, I watched my fellow believers leave our Weekly Meeting in their long floral dresses and formal suits, and I had a realization.
'I don't believe in this religion. I'm leaving and I'm never coming back'.
That was the first step, in a 20 year journey to find my place in the world.
I didn't know then, but my decision to walk away that day would mean I'd lose my community, faith, family and culture. I would need to build my life from scratch alone, in a world I knew little about.
I had barely watched a TV or listened to a radio. I had never owned a pair of jeans or trousers. I had never worn jewelry, make up, rarely heard pop music. I had lived an isolated life, surrounded by people of my faith.
For 20 years I've concentrated on building a new life & identity. I was determined to get an education, to earn my own money, and to see the world that had been off-limits to me as a child.
I have rarely spoken of the life I left at 19, embarrassed to be so different to the people I live, work and play with now.
However after an experience riding an adventure motorbike across Australia, where it became apparent I'm built differently to people around me, I decided its time to talk about my formative years inside the fundamentalist sect.
I'm ready to talk about that life, my journey out of that group, and how it has made me 'different'. It is that difference drives me.