It’s been awhile since I’ve had the mental and emotional strength to write a blog. After having to delete a blog this summer, I began to feel that I had lost my voice and couldn’t post anything without having to tip-toe around eggshells- the truth. This is something that I told myself I would never let happen to me or impact YouAreMore but here I am writing this blog. In saying this, I have spent the past few months struggling to find the fine line of being a mental health advocate. You are constantly putting yourself in vulnerable situations in hopes to help others who are struggling. Some days you get by without thinking twice and some days the negative comments hurt so bad that you feel it in your bones, and hear them ringing in your ears. It takes so much strength to pull yourself together after receiving a cruel message, or be told things like “Are you sorry for being alive?”. As a mental health advocate when you hit rock bottom, you promise yourself that you will never be the kind of person who judges or is cruel to others. You already know what it is like to not fit into society’s “norms”, be judged for something out of your control, and to be bullied to the point of abuse. So this is why you strive to be the person who asks someone if they’re okay twice because they look upset. You smile at people even if they don’t smile back at you. You become the person, the friend, and the mentor that you wish was there for you. You are determined to be brave enough to stand alone in a crowd for what is right. However, this also makes you more sensitive to other people’s pain, how mean people really are, and you can become fixated on all the negative. I have recently found myself in this position a lot. I became terrified to speak my voice, stand up for what is right, and forgot what I believe my purpose is here on this earth- to help others. It wasn't until I remembered a bible verse that I learned at Christian camp that I began to regain my strength to write this blog. In the mean time, I had cried, screamed, and hurt greatly the past few months but then I decided to do the most difficult thing, I forgave. I forgave the people who dulled the fire and passion within me. I forgave the people who are currently stuck in a tunnel vision that is created by the stigma, jealousy, hurt and many other things. I forgave myself for letting them take away my voice, YouAreMore and my passion to help others. But most importantly, I did what I learned at summer camp years ago… I turned my other cheek to them. 

“If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them.” - Luke 6:29

I don’t think I could’ve ever imagined back then how much this verse would mean to me now. Each and every day, as a mental health advocate, I have two choices- I can either choose to be defeated, silenced and judged by people, or I can stand up stronger, louder and give compassion to those people. I have to try my best to love every single person beyond what this world understands and offer grace beyond what anyone could ever expect, because it is through those actions that people may have their eyes opened. 

I am not saying this is easy by any means. As I have said, I have spent a great deal of time struggling the past few months to find a line and come to this point. I have wanted to live out YouAreMore’s mission statement- to inspire individuals to see beyond their obstacles, but at the same time I was guarding myself from getting defeated and second guessing my dream. I have had countless conversations with close family and friends about how I could balance both the negative and positive that I receive through YouAreMore. It wasn’t until I was FaceTiming a good friend, that something clicked in me. I didn’t go through the trauma I did, experience a magnitude of hurt, had to fight for my life, and then create YouAreMore, just to let the bullies win. In that moment, I realized I have already been through hell and back, and worked too damn hard to give up now. I enjoy the grateful emails from people around the world thanking me way too much, my heart melts when strangers recognize me in public for YouAreMore, and most importantly, no one is “more important” than me that they should be allowed to make me feel invisible. 

This is something that I will have to continue to remind myself, with support from my core because my purpose on this earth is not easy and it will continue to be tested. There will be times, that I will not be able to stop myself from questioning if it’s worth the ridicule, spending nights crying, having long showers to “wash” off the gross feeling, finding myself blasting worship music while praying “why me”, and many other things. I am human just like everyone else and doubt will always touch us in waves. However, that doesn’t mean my purpose isn’t important, it’s extremely important and I must continue it. Although it may be rare right now, I look forward to the day that my bravery to stand up to the stigma, and speak the truth will not be something to make fun of, judge or have to be hidden. In the mean time, I will work on doing an extremely powerful thing… taking the words that people have used to break me and start reclaiming them. So here are the first words I will start to reclaim- bible thumper, worthless, ugly, fake, and messed-up.