For the last several weeks, the phrase “you seem so happy” has been spoken to me. That compliment means more to me than any other, because I believe happiness is the best makeup. I try each and every day to exude a level of energy and positivity, with the hopes that it will become contagious and infect those I encounter.
It wasn’t always like this, though. I wasn’t always running around, wind in my hair, humming Fifth Harmony and Rihanna with a giant smile on my face. I went through some things, some manageable, some not-so-manageable. I’ve learned to ‘make it work,’ in any case.
I read a feature story about a week ago on espnW that touched my heart for a number of reasons. Madison Holleran, a jersey girl, scholar and track runner at UPenn, committed suicide after a dark and lonely battle with anxiety and depression. Her parents shared the beautiful memories of their daughter, friends told stories of parties and dinners and in my head all I could think was “what went wrong?”
The feature was centered around the idea that we have the ability to paint a picture of what we want people to think via social media. Instagram posts and tweets can sometimes mask the daunting struggles we face on a daily basis, as we fill people’s timelines with smiley selfies, pictures with friends & family, and food and art. Madison sounded like a girl full of life and spirit and promise, and so I decided to look at her Instagram to see what it was that her parents were exactly talking about.
I sat in silence, tears in my eyes for a few minutes as I scrolled through her photos. “What a beautiful soul,” I again thought to myself, reading through the comments of her posts.
Whenever I read of loss or death of young men and women, my mind immediately races to the day Josh was killed. The day, the week, the funeral… every single detail plays in my head like a horror film you can’t turn away from. Not for the sake of wanting to watch it, but because you have no other choice but to face what’s in front of you. You wish you could save them. You wish you could tell them to leave a few minutes later, or to stay home, or not to jump or give up because thousands and thousands of people would feel the pain of their absence.
Life is fragile. Technology has taken over full force, providing advantages and disadvantages to all. We communicate a little less and rely on someone’s tweets or Instagram posts to reassure us that our friends, or even ourselves, are living and breathing and okay. Someone tweets a little less and we worry, but never address it. Weeks go by without a picture, but we assume they are just busy. Then there’s the people who post every single day—their outings, their birthday shoutouts, quotes, opinions.
What makes either of those circumstances a justifiable means by which we can say someone is ‘ok?’
I value phone calls. I value “I miss yous.’ I value people going out of their way to speak or see me, because I’m allowed to want to feel loved and important and wanted. We are all allowed to feel that way. But what happens to the people who don’t think that way—the ones who face darkness on a daily basis with no escape other than self-harm or making that darkness permanent?
“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a battle.”
We have the power to influence the world around us—with words and with actions. I don’t think I realized the validity of that until I was standing in front of a classroom of 20 students with tears in their eyes as I shared stories and details about my platform message. When you have the ability to relate or connect with someone, you do it. Find the words, find the message, find the dots, connect them and you instill hope and motivation and faith into a soul that may have been broken or maybe just needed to be lifted.
I won’t go into full detail, but battling through the challenges and adversity in my own life gave me an entirely new perspective on life, and reading about Madison Holleran heightened that perspective.
Life is too short to hold grudges. There is sometimes this incessant ambiguity of what tomorrow holds for us, praying the sunshine graces our faces and lights the smile we have within. We may fear risk, and I think there’s always a fear of the unknown, because we never truly know what’s coming our way.
Whatever you do, do it with the mindset that you are adding value to your life and hopefully enriching the lives of others. Who you surround yourself with, how you handle situations, what words you use and how you at upon them… it all matters. You don’t want to live your life with regrets. Closed mouths don’t get fed and sometimes the fear of speaking up keeps us trapped in our own silence and we become mute and emotionless as we battle to break free. My advice to you, to everyone, is always to speak up and speak out—because silence is a slow killer and I’d rather live in the honesty of my words than crumble under my silence.
And hey, you matter. Everyone matters, to someone. I know that’s sometimes a difficult pill to swallow when we are neglected or torn or getting mixed signals from a girl/guy we like or you get into a fight with your mom, but we all have mothers and fathers and siblings and aunts and uncles and cousins and friends who love us unconditionally, despite the flaws [that we ALL have]. Negativity is out of style and optimism is totally in, so let’s get with the trend and make positivity an everyday thing.
You can’t teach passion, you can’t teach drive, you can’t teach tenacity. That’s all within you—so be strong enough to know that those attributes and a really awesome attitude will take you far beyond your wildest dreams. You have to believe. Clear eyes, a heart full of love, open ears—be welcoming to the good, bad, pretty, ugly, great, unfortunate things.
“Bad things don’t happen to good people—bad things make good people”
Someone’s inability to see your worth really isn’t your problem—especially if you’re working and hustling and grinding. You could have and be willing to offer everything you have and sometimes it still isn’t enough—but by no means does that diminish your worth. It just means that you were meant for something better, something else, someone better or someone else—in love, in your career, in food (forgetting that Chik-fil-a is closed on Sundays is the worst).
We are guided by our inner fire, our faith and the universe to provide us with who, what and where we are meant to be. Trust in that and don’t halfass a single thing you do.
It all starts with you.
until next time,