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Her mind buzzed with excitement and worry, unsure of what path to take next. As if in a knee jerk reflex, she decided to walk to the art gallery and distract herself for the afternoon until she was truly ready to decide for herself what she should do. Standing in the art exhibit, surrounded by an array of beautiful and unique displays, she found herself caught in a trance, as if one piece spoke to her. In a dark corner to her right a single ray of golden sunlight danced, highlighting a delicate artifact that was suspended by a single golden thread. In harsh contrast, a frail rusted birdcage that was weathered and old, housed the delicate creation.

A scant amount of the other art enthusiasts seemed to even notice this piece that, in a single moment, had rocked her world. It was as if she was looking into a shattered looking glass that caught her eye, and reeled her in. A mosaic where chaos allowed for the clearest view of truth. Allowing her to look into her deepest and most repressed memories, and arranged them in such a way so that she could see her true self. She felt exactly like the ornate, white origami swan that was left suspended in time while caged by its maker. A beautiful creation formed to be admired, and to impress yet never intended to be disassemble or handled. Her parents had taken great care to arrange each fold and crease to eventually make their precious child into the woman she is today.

They were very methodical, and went into each situation with intention and direction. Each school and instructor had been handpicked from the very beginning. School uniforms were kept in pristine conditions always ironed and starched, ready for her debut. Friends were selected and approved based on who was the safest influence with likeminded goals and values. Anna was their biggest accomplishment and most prized possession. They had big plans for Ana, and they were determined to give her the life that they never had. What felt like restrictions and harsh criticism was their display of love and consideration for her safety and well-being.

Looking at the caged origami swan Ana let the tears stream down, hot and salty on her cheeks. They were happy tears laced with sadness and pain. Grateful for her parents sacrifice, and saddened by her misinterpretation of their actions. She stood paralyzed by the emotions that flooded in. For so long she had felt the pressure for perfection, and the demand of greatness. It was heavy and at times it felt soul crushing. But today for the first time in her life she felt light, as if she could fly and be free from it all. She now understood that her parents had been training her, and building her up. She was not caged, rather protected from all those who did not have her best interest at heart. Until the time when she would choose to open the door and fly away.

She was not chained; her wings were not clipped, and the door was never locked. Restrained by her own thoughts, and limited only by her own ideas of reality and purpose. This afternoon turned out to be more powerful than she had anticipated. With a sense of renewed energy and confidence, Ana knew what she had to do. She would appreciate all that she had, and would take on whatever came before her with confidence and diligence. This was just what she needed to help her decide to take on the executive position in Boston. Beautifully and uniquely crafted she was perfectly suited for the job, and would never forget that this was her strength. In the end it was all worth it. All of the struggle and sacrifice made her who she was today, and she was ready to fly away to the next chapter. She would spread out her wings and see for herself what her full potential would be. Sure, to never be caged in mind, or in body, ever again.