As I climbed up the three steps, water dripping from my body, I wrapped myself in the towel that my mentor was holding for me, her eyes averted. As the warmth of the towel took over me, I still felt nothing.
Today was the day, the day I had been waiting years for. The day that I had been anticipating. But yet, it didn’t feel as I had imagined it would. I didn’t have that rush of adrenaline wash over me. I didn’t feel giddy. I didn’t feel holier. I didn’t feel accomplished.
I felt embarrassed- I was just naked in a mikvah in front of four Rabbis and two women. The tarp atop the water was meant to keep me covered, the hole for my head was large, and my petite body felt exposed. No matter how many times I am assured it was fine, my worries have never been assuaged.
I felt isolated- the minute I stepped out of the mikvah, I was halachically an orphan. After Meah Ve’Esrim Shana, when my parents pass away, I won’t be sitting Shiva for them. When people referred to me, I would be Bas Avraham Avinu and Sarah Imeinu. When the Bais Hamikdash is rebuilt and we’re all back in Eretz Yisrael, I will have no sort of claim to land.
I felt lost- I was working towards this for years, and now that I’m here, what’s next? I reached my end goal, so now what? Am I holier now than I was twenty minutes ago? Everyone always talks about crossing the finish line, but no one ever tells you about the ten minutes, 3 days, or even lifetime after you cross.
This was something that I had worked towards for years. I had done a complete 180. I had a hid a huge part of my life from many friends and family member. I had spent thousands of dollars, sent hundreds of emails, and spent many, many hour traveling, and it all culminated in these ten minutes in the mikvah.
This whole time- I had been working towards becoming part of Klal Yisroel. Spent years begging Hashem to allow me to be a part of His nation, His chosen people. Spent years wishing that I could keep Shabbos. Spent years wishing that I could wake up in the morning and make the bracha “…She’Lo Asani Goy.” Spent years envisioning the life I could have, raising my family with a love of Yiddishkite. And the day is finally here- so now what?
I already felt like I had been living the life of a frum Jew, so I didn’t feel a difference when I walked out of the mikvah. What had just consumed my life was finally over, so now what do I do?
I romanticized this experience in my head and now I was hit with a harsh reality. Now I had to be able to move on, and conduct a normal life. But what does that mean a normal life? Life comes with challenges and struggles. Before when I prayed, it was because I wanted to, not because I had to. When I dressed in a tzenuah way, I did so because I felt it was the right thing to do, not because I had rules and guidelines laid out for me. And now, all I wanted is what every 20-something girl wants- to be married, but then again, I was struck down.
Everyone always said it would be harder for me than others, but their words never penetrated until now. Who wants to marry the convert? Some girls struggle with answering what color table cloth they use on Shabbos, or where their family davens. For me, those questions aren’t hard- they’re not even applicable. I am left in the undesired category.
When all of these thought consumed me- I slipped, sliding full force down the mountain I was on into a deep and endless valley. I no longer had the drive I once had. I was no longer enamored by Judaism. I felt like I was keeping a bigger secret now than ever before. And worst of all, even though I had finally join Klal Yisroel, I had never felt so isolated.
Baruch Hashem, I have been able to pull myself out of the funk I was in. I was able to remind myself even in the hardest times, that I was fighting for something all of those years, and even if I can’t get back to that place now, it must have been worth fighting for. I was able to find a way to use my experience to help others. I knew if I was feeling this way, others had to have as well. I am able to speak freely about my journey, because it is not something to be ashamed off, it has molded me into who I am today.
So even now, I still have the questions of “Now what,” but now I’ve come to know, sometimes you don’t have the exact answer, but I know there is something on the other side of the valley I am in, and the hill might be hard, but it’s worth climbing.