Three Life-Changing Events
First and foremost, I want to acknowledge that I’ve always been a very fortunate person. I grew up under the guidance of two loving and hard-working parents who provided me with an outstanding childhood. Summers were filled with camps, friends, and vacations, and during the school year, I received a great education. I am extremely grateful for everything I have and always do my best to not take it for granted.
I know my experiences are very much my own, not ones with which others can necessarily identify. However, I believe the individual moments in life, not the complete picture, allow us to understand one another. So while others may not have grown up in the same manner as I did, I believe there are pieces or components that create a human connection. We all face hardship in our lives that strongly shapes us into who we are. Even if you don’t think they have, I guarantee you every person you know at some point has felt extreme pain. For me, there are three key difficult moments that shaped me into who I am today.
First, my mother was diagnosed with Stage 3 breast cancer when I was only an infant. The doctor said she had a few months to live. My father and her both refused to take this for an answer, so they pursued medical attention elsewhere, not stopping until they found something that promised more. They took a chance—my mom became one of the few people to successfully receive a stem cell transplant for her cancer, which eventually led to her full recovery. I am proud to call her a 20-year survivor this year. So how did something that occurred when I was barely born shape me so vividly? Because my parents’ fight has stayed with them, instilling in me a drive to achieve and not give in, even when everything else seems to be screaming, “No.” I grew up knowing the fragility of life, in awe of my mother’s superpowers to live through something so threatening.
The next event that strongly shaped me occurred during my sophomore year in high school. I have always been a loud and outgoing individual, unafraid to be myself. From the time I was born, my father has been telling me nonstop to be my own person. He has taught me and shown me how authenticity leads to happiness. When I started my sophomore year, the people I considered my friends challenged my authenticity. The year was already hard for me as I began having ovarian cyst ruptures consistently, ones that made me faint in the middle of class and throw up for hours due to the pain. But my friends at the time decided spreading rumors of me being pregnant was appropriate, taunting me at school in front of my peers. I remember getting into my dad’s car after school one day, crying, embarrassed to tell him the rumors that were going around. But when I did, he was not angry with me. Instead, he told me that at the end of the day, they cannot touch me if I am being my own person. Yes, their words are rude and unacceptable, but clearly they are uncomfortable with who they are if they have to try and bring me down.
The most recent event that shaped me began during the summer of my freshman year of college and still is occurring today. I started to believe I wasn’t attractive, so I began over-exercising and under-eating, neither of which I did on purpose, but because I thought I was simply being healthier. This led to my body going into starvation mode and a host of gastrointestinal problems, as well as psychological. While it is two years later and I am in a much better place than I was at the start, there are still moments of difficulty when I find myself critiquing my body or judging myself for eating too much. However, it also led to my passion for body positivity and living a balanced and individual lifestyle.
So while I do consider myself an extremely fortunate person and acknowledge that my experience is not one everyone can identify with, I do hope people can identify with some of the fundamental emotions and outcomes from my life-molding events. To me, life is all about finding a balance and being yourself. I cannot tell you what either of those are for anyone besides myself. But I am hoping with this site to cause some inspiration, to encourage people, particularly young women and girls, to go out and discover what makes them happiest and what they need or who they need to surround themselves with to be completely themselves. Whether that is exercising two times a week or going shopping with friends—as long as you are balanced, making time for your happiness, that is what I believe leads to an amazing life.