What Starts Here Changes the World


It came quicker than I could accept it. I was holding back in fear of change, longing the sweet and cozy presence of home and the routine and consistency of everyday life. I was wanting everything to stay the same.

The presence of love, comfort, and family kept me from moving forward.

But it was time to leave, whether I had accepted it or not.


As I headed off to college, I came to learn that this small town girl was not ready for the 40-acres of campus, the 18,000 plus students, and the 500+ student filled classrooms. It was loud, chaotic, and overwhelming. I had built up a fear that I couldn’t control. It was the feeling of not knowing a soul, the fear of being judged, and the fear of not being accepted. It made it hard to adjust to the new life and journey ahead. I longed for weekends to go home to my safe haven, away from the chaos. I would cry every Sunday as I left behind the love and comfort that I craved in the “other” world.

what starts here changes the world with Nicki Patel on the Belong Magazine Blog

I separated myself away from everyone in this “other” world just to protect myself. I did as I needed to work towards my goal of building the foundation for my future. I worked hard, I kept quiet, and freshman year seemed like it would never end. As summer approached, I was overjoyed by the thought of finally returning home, and then fall semester of sophomore year seemed to repeat the year before, as did junior year. I started to get used to the routine of living in two worlds – one balanced by love, comfort, and acceptance, and one where I felt lost, overprotective, and quiet. I didn’t understand why this was, and every time I questioned myself, I would just push it aside; convincing myself this was just the process.

As senior year arrived, I was awaiting the final time I would feel that grim pain of leaving once again, but this time it came a little easier knowing it was the last. I was happy and proud that I had made it this far, but to my surprise I was quickly reminded of the unsettling world of reality.

My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer in my final spring semester.

Everything seemed to halt and both of my worlds collided into a world of fury, frustration, and confusion.

I didn’t understand how the world of love and compassion had joined with the one of chaos and pain. I felt lost, hurt, and helpless as I took my mom to her first few months of radiation. I fell behind and had to extend the rollercoaster journey I had dreaded once again.

But it seemed even through the chaos as both worlds merged, God had a plan. I had forgotten that everything came into our life with purpose with the extreme lows of the previous few months. Faith brought into my life a light of hope, a person, the one I was needing the past 4 years. This person helped me build up my courage, my bravery, overcome my fear of judgement, and move past towards acceptance (or not) – it really didn’t matter anymore.

Faith brought this person into my life for a purpose and I didn’t know it at the time, but it helped me overcome some of the things that had held me back from being me since I was a child.

I was able to live, share, enjoy, and be without limits. I felt free in my own skin and being. It was hard at first, but she made it easy for me. I was able to bring that same courage to my mom, and get through one of the toughest battles in my life – helplessness for those I loved so near and dear. She made me feel alive, and I realized I wasn’t a child anymore; I was 22 and I shouldn’t live in fear. She helped me grow, understand, and most of all, live with no regrets.

Although she and I have evolved, grown, and live different lives half way across the country, I know that she came with reason, will always be present for a purpose, and has forever left a mark on my journey. She may never know it, but she saved me from myself. She reminded me to not lose faith in myself, not fear the judgement of the world, and kept me driven to share who I was with the world. It didn’t matter if the world accepted me or not, it mattered that I accepted myself. I begin to love the person I was and as I moved each step closer to being me, I felt even more empowered.

Everyone has a journey, purpose, and destiny.

I feed off my faith in every moment, but in those moments when I had almost lost it, it was brought forth in front of me. This has only made me stronger--stronger in faith and purpose. It continues to help me grow and evolve. As I work towards living a life full of purpose, I look back at a very important slogan that will always be embedded within me:


I see that life isn’t about the world changing us, it is what starts within us that changes the world--no matter how large or small.

It is with our patience, grace, faith, and understanding we see these things come to life. I know I have and I hope I can help others find this too.



Nicki Patel is the founder of milo+nicki, an ethically-designed, sustainable womenswear line designed to empower the ever-evolving woman through the vibrant colors of her culture, traditions, and life experiences. milo+nicki advocates for gender equality, sustainable living and animal rights through conscious, cruelty-free design and manufacturing in the USA. Nicki is also a personal stylist and an avid runner. Find the debut of her first collection via pre-sales on Kickstarter now bit.ly/weareunstoppable

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