Recently I was held against my will whilst on public transport. People looked on as a man I'd only met 30 minutes ago tried to kiss me, ignoring my protestations as I struggled to escape his grip and repeatedly said "no". I felt my chest getting tight as I tried to pull my head away, only to find that his arm was firm against the back of my neck.
It felt like a lifetime was laid out before me as I waited to reach our destination. When he walked away and left me alone, I pretended to be asleep in case he returned. Of course, experience should have told me that pretending to be asleep was the wrong thing to do, but thankfully in this instance, it appeared to work.
That night I had a breakdown at the concert of one of my favourite singers. Everything had all become too much. I cried on the shoulder of a friend and later cried on the shoulder of the singer I had come to see. I spent most of the concert on the floor, hiding from the world while I cried.
At that point, every part of me wanted to turn around and go home. I didn't want to carry on with my plans and see more friends, I just wanted to go home. Yet despite further sexual harassment in the early hours of the following morning, I carried on.
I carried on and gritted my teeth as I seemingly attracted every creepy stranger in the area, and I had a wonderful time. Eventually, I did turn around and come home early, but that was mostly due to exhaustion and ill health.
Sometimes you have to grit your teeth and tell your instincts that they're wrong. I know now that I would have been hurting far more at the moment if I had turned around after that first concert than I am now, despite the people who made the first few days hell for me.
I've also gone from biting my lip and staying quiet when someone crosses the line to putting up a fight. I've grown and become stronger. Sure, right now I want to sleep for weeks, and my mind is still reeling from everything that happened, but I encountered far more good people than bad during my journey. If nothing else, that makes it all worthwhile.