Emily Gill: EVERYONE LOVES YOU WHEN YOU'RE 23!

To say my life has been hectic the past few months would be an understatement. Despite always being on the go, school being incredibly hard, traveling tons, living out of hotels and suitcases, I couldn’t be happier. I have always been told that one day you will look back on all the dots representing every little moment in your life and it will all connect, it will all make sense. I am currently standing here in the middle of a beautiful masterpiece finally realizing why I had to go through what I did. I know… I know… I have said that multiple times AND I know that in a season of struggle it is so hard to comprehend that there is a reason for it. I have been there… multiple times. Don’t get me wrong here, I still have hardships that I am facing every day between family, friends, and school. However, these hardships are bringing out more of the survivor in me. There is so many people surrounding me that think I am beautiful, brave, smart, strong, and fearless and slowly piece by piece I am starting to believe it. I know I am worthy of love, I am worthy of being happy & being happy every single day at that. 

Growing up school was always pretty easy for me. I loved attending, I loved being involved with extracurriculars, and I LOVED putting up my hand to answer questions. I was the definition of a teacher’s pet. When I graduated high school that changed very quickly for me. I know the reasons why this changed and for a long time I was too ashamed to talk about them. It took me awhile to accept that I now have to use learning services for my post-secondary education. I write all my tests in a private room compared to a lecture hall with other students in order to be able to concentrate and not panic, I get extra notes and recordings of my lectures incase I can’t pay attention, and I get time and a half on all my school work. This sounds like every students dream doesn't it? Not for me. I would feel humiliated going to hand my professor at the beginning of every semester my learning plan. It felt like I was sticking a huge sign on my forehead saying that I wasn’t “normal” like their other students. Eventually, I grew to accept that in order to get the marks I wanted and be able to get my dream job this was my new reality. The moment I became unashamed and accepted that this is just an extra tool that I need in order to succeed, I became a lot happier! I am now incredibly thankful to have so much support from faculty and other peer students that I couldn't imagine now not having a learning plan.

In 24 days I turn 23 years old… WHAT? I grew a whole new perspective on birthdays after spending one in the hospital a few years ago. I remember that morning not wanting to get out of bed, I remember my family coming to visit, I remember my friends bringing me a cake. However, the most chilling thing I remember was blowing out my birthday candles wishing I was dead. The thought of that now breaks my heart. For anyone who has got the privilege to know my rockstar Mom, knows growing up she SPOILED us on our birthdays with incredible birthday parties. So when I didn’t want to get out of bed that day… I knew I was choosing death over life... I was at rock bottom. As I have shared before it has taken me a long time and many painful memories to realize that I was more than what had happened to me, my struggles, and that is was all going to be okay. I still have my moments of worry as I remember some unpleasant memories but they are nothing compared to the paralyzing worry and fear it gave me years ago. One of my friends at the time came to visit me every day in the hospital and would read to me Dr. Seuss' "Oh the Places You’ll Go”. It was amazing how a book made for young children somehow helped me change my life but boy am I glad it did!

Oh the places you’ll go, today is your today! Your mountain is waiting, so get on your way!

A few years later, I am now seeing the places I am going and let me tell you it’s exciting! The people I have encountered over past few years, YouAreMore, and God’s unfailing love and grace has changed my life. I am lucky to be alive and celebrating my 23rd birthday in a few weeks. All the dots are connected and I see now I was created for a purpose. I was created to help others who are struggling and show them they are wanted, loved, more. So this year when I blow out my birthday candles, I will be wishing that anyone who is struggling to stay alive, to get out of bed, that feels they are alone, that you too will be able to believe in all the places you will go! It’s not going to be easy but it will be worth it. You are never alone. YouAreMore.