I met Diliya on a beautiful summer day in London. She wasn’t sure how long she was going to stay in the city, just as she wasn’t sure of many other things. However, one matter was clear: what she was doing was the right thing, and she was going to keep on with it until her heart would fully heal.

Diliya’s story isn’t necessarily uncommon, but what makes it different is the way she warriored-up and faced things in order to turn her life around. That’s why I believe her journey is an undeniably inspiring one because it’s courageous, honest, and hopefully enlightening for all of those who may have gone through heartbreak (haven’t we all really?).

Even before starting telling me about her story, she had already surprised me. With her edgy, hippy, almost teenage looks (despite her being in her thirties), I would have never imagined her working at a bank – sharp reminder that you can never judge a book by its cover!

Diliya’s story begins in her hometown: Singapore. Her job as a financial advisor paid well, and she was happily married to – who she thought at the time – was the love of her life.

After a ten year relationship, they both realised that they were not happy and decided to go on a break that eventually lasted a year. In the name of love, they tried to give the relationship another chance and moved back in together, but after six months they decided it wasn’t going to work out and opted for divorce. Even though it was an amicable split, she felt completely devastated and fell into a deep, dark hole. All sorts of negative thoughts she had never had before, suddenly arose: what did I do wrong? Am I not enough for him? I’m not beautiful. I’m not interesting. I don’t deserve to be loved.


“Everybody needs someone, It’s human nature, But you can deny it if you want to. I don’t. And sometimes, we need to dig deeper and ask ourselves: are we truly ready, either mentally or emotionally, to love and be loved?.” – Diliya


We all know that finding someone with whom we can connect on a deeper level (let alone, fall in love) is a rather unusual thing, so it was only normal for her to feel like she could never be that lucky twice. Her emotions took over her mind and soul, and sadness seemed to be ruling her days. But still, life went on, just as if it was turning blind eyes to her suffering.

After the divorce, she was pretty sure she’d never love again. At least, not with the same intensity. After all, that man was the love of her life. How could she be feeling any differently?

But time isn’t there just to make us run late to places, or to make us look old. It’s also there to heal broken hearts. To help us understand. So right when she was at her lowest point, the Universe decided to magically surprise her with a new special someone. Despite her being certain she’d never meet another man that would make her heart skip a beat, there she was, falling in love all over again. It now seemed that happiness wasn’t just a momentary illusion, a joke, or a lie – but rather, a palpable reality. Perhaps even something she could rely on, after all.

She was finally ready to open up again, to be happy, and yes, to be vulnerable. She gave love a second chance and started a new journey filled with hope and plans for the future with this wonderful man. She was feeling alive, valuable, needed, beautiful. She even found herself thinking about doing that marriage thing all over again – even having kids! The whole la la land. Truth is, he was amazing. They had truly connected, so, why not? What could possibly go wrong?



At this point in the story, Murphy had to make an undesirable appearance and prove his -let’s be honest, rather annoying- point: anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.

It was only after a few months together when she realised he had changed. They talked things through, and it turned out he wasn’t happy anymore. Something wasn’t working. The divorce had left her wounded, and she still hadn’t been able to fully heal from the experience. All this extra heavy baggage she was bringing into the relationship wasn’t allowing it to flow as it was supposed to. The only thing she wanted to do was to fix whatever it was that was causing this, and she tried, but when you are not fully consciously aware of the kind of issues you’re dealing with, it’s too complicated to get anything fixed. He tried his best as well. He loved her. But he was too frustrated and couldn’t try anymore. He needed some space to clear his mind, so he finally made the decision to fly back to his hometown, putting a final end to the relationship.

This left her completely shattered. Sometimes it doesn’t take a dramatic break up to break you. Especially when you’re already broken.

All those negative emotions she once experienced, started invading her once again, this time, even more intensely. She was now certain there was something wrong with her. What could it possibly be, though? Despite desperately wanting to know, her brain seemed to be as frozen as her heart and was not able to analyse the situation to find a useful answer. But she sure needed one. And quick.

Only five days after his departure, Diliya decided to stuff her things in a backpack and just go. Leave everything behind.  She could’ve stayed in Singapore, with her family and friends, she could’ve kept her job. She could have chosen comfort. But she desperately needed to run. FAR. She needed to put a physical distance between her and all those things that her heart couldn’t bear to feel anymore. Ironically, just as he had done. And even if he wasn’t there anymore, Singapore had already become a sour reminder of all the things that could’ve gone well and had gone wrong.

They say that all emotions are energy, and with negative ones, the thing gets tricky – if you don’t keep that energy moving, it will eventually get stuck and stored in your body in the form of a physical symptom. Often an illness. But whether she knew about this or not, she was wise enough to follow her instinct and start doing just that. Moving.


“In times when all these emotions arise, the only way to beat it is to dig deeper. Dig deeper and ask ourselves what is making us feel the way we do. How we can make ourselves or the situation better. Because the only way OUT is IN”. – Diliya


When negative emotions take over and things become unbearable, some people tackle the problem by turning to work, going manic at the gym, or falling into all sorts of self-destructive spirals. However, Diliya wasn’t going to let that happen to herself. Yes, she was broken, but her intention was far from destroying herself. She wanted to help herself. But still didn’t know exactly how.

On a courageous and yet so humble act of self-trust, Diliya grabbed the essentials and started a raw journey that took her to travel all over the world. It was time to unlearn, to mentally detox, and to reconnect with her true essence.

She decided to document her journey on her Instagram account @therawvagabond (and also with a poetry and prose book that has recently been released) not only as a way of self-therapy but also to inspire and motivate others.
During this incredible journey of self-discovery, Diliya has found what many people spend a whole lifetime searching for: her true purpose in life. She will soon be certified as a life coach, which will allow her to inspire and empower individuals to, as she says: “embrace their RAW selves (their emotional vulnerability) into living their best potential in pursuit of their life’s purpose: to be ext.RAW.ordinary”.


  Diliya Rianni @the_raw_academy

Photography & text by Lorena Sturlese