We all have a story to tell. Even if you don’t think it’s interesting, you still have one. And, since I’m a believer that we should never hold back our stories, because you never know who will inspire, I want to share the most recent part of mine. Some may read this and think, “big deal…”, others may think, “that’s interesting, I guess…”, or maybe no one will read this. But, if there is one person that reads this and thinks, “hey, I’m not alone. Someone out there feels the same thing, and has been where I am today. Maybe I’m going to be OK.” That’s why I do this. For that person.
The last year of my life has been full of ups-and-downs. To be quite honest, it has been more downs than ups. It started with a restlessness in my bones. I was not happy in my work, or what I was doing with my life. I knew what I wanted to do (which was THIS, bully prevention work), but I felt stuck. Stuck in a job that while it was fun, the people I worked with made sure it wasn’t. I was being bullied at work. (Yes, friends, bullying happens in adulthood, too.) I prayed that I could get out of that job every single waking moment of my life, I prayed. I had friends praying. I had family praying. In that year, I also had two friends of mine pass away. Then I had a couple car accidents. Then, my prayer was answered when I lost my job. At the moment, I thought, “Ok, God. I know I wanted You to get me out of here, but I was kind of hoping to have another job to go to!” That turned out to be the best thing that ever happened to me. That was my turning point.
I spent the next couple of months digging deep into the three F’s in my life–Faith, Family and Friends. Doors would open, and then they would shut. But, the ones that stayed open I couldn’t ignore. I knew in my heart where God was leading me, but I was terrified. It went against what all of society was telling me. You know, the whole go to an office from 9-5…isn’t that what everyone wants and needs? Every time I would go to a job interview, I felt myself thinking “I just want what God wants…and that is bullying work.” But how do I do that? How do I convince my family and friends that? How do I tell them that this is what I need to do to be happy and that everything will work out? Truth is, I don’t. I just learned that when you have God on your side, that’s all you need to worry about. As long as He’s on your side, and you’re doing His plan, then you’re all good. That took a long time for me to realize.
I spent a lot of time blaming myself, punishing myself and guilting myself. So much so that I would drive myself to severe panic attacks and breakdowns. I couldn’t bring myself to let go of anything. I wanted so badly to have everything go back to being the way it used to be when I was younger, freer, happier. As you get older, you realize that it’s not your old self that’s dying–it’s your new self that’s being born. I order to let that new person grow, you need to let go of the past. I was in no condition to do that. I held on for dear life! And it literally almost took my life. I remember one night after dinner with a friend, I felt different. I felt a stirring inside of me, and it wasn’t good. I didn’t know what it meant, where it came from, or what would happen. All I knew is that it wasn’t good. When I got home from dinner, I called my parents. That’s when the floodgates opened and I had a full-fledged, honest to God, panic breakdown. I couldn’t breath. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t even see. All I could do was shake, rock back and forth, and cry. At one point, it was so bad that I literally thought to myself, “this is it. This is how it’s going to end. I can’t see anyway out of this. There’s no other way out.” I literally thought I was going to die. My Mom tried to calm me down, and help. She did as much as she could from 1,000 miles away. I eventually hung up the phone and tried to go to bed. I laid in bed praying out loud, “God, help me. I don’t know what else to say…just help me. I’m sorry.” It was then that I had probably the biggest revelation of my life so far. I sat straight up and it hit me. It wasn’t my circumstances. It wasn’t anyone else in my life. It wasn’t people who wronged me. It was me. I needed to FINALLY forgive myself. That thought never crossed my mind, in my entire life. Forgive myself for…well, everything. So there I sat, talking to myself, listing everything (and I mean everything) I needed to forgive myself for. It was then that I started to feel like myself again. And it was then that I finally made the decision that I was no longer going to punish myself, and that I was going to only worry about what God thinks. I can no longer worry about what someone else wants me to do, or where someone thinks I should be. This is my life and it was time I gave control of it to God, instead of others or myself.
Losing two friends within a month of each other was tough. I’m still not sure I will ever be fully recovered from that, but I can honestly say that when I talk about bully prevention, or plan for events for it, see kids faces light up when someone helps them…that’s what makes me happy. That’s when I feel my heart smile and I know that this is my purpose and calling in life. It may not be the easiest route to take in life, but you know what? I have gone through a lot in my life so far, been to hell and back, and I survived. So, when I do what I love, nothing will shake me. I’m a tough cookie, and you are, too.
Forget what other people say. Do what makes YOU happy. Make mistakes, because that’s when you learn. Don’t be afraid to take a wrong turn. Everything eventually leads you to where you’re supposed to be. Live your life. Love your life. Love yourself.
Happy New Year. Let’s make this the best year yet! You with me?!