She was brave, strong, and broken all at once.
Your story matters more than you know.
I know what you have been thinking. I know why you have been hesitant to start writing out your experiences...
"I cannot have people know what I have gone through, or they will never think I am normal."
"I cannot stomach the idea of reliving my bad experience through words, especially if everyone I KNOW is going to see it."
"There is no point in sharing bad, sad, or terrible things. It will only bring people down and give my feed bad vibes."
I can think of a million reasons why it is important to share our stories and vent our feelings, especially on social media.
According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America:
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental illness in the U.S., affecting 40 million adults in the United States age 18 and older, or 18.1% of the population every year.
Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet only 36.9% of those suffering receive treatment.
People with an anxiety disorder are three to five times more likely to go to the doctor and six times more likely to be hospitalized for psychiatric disorders than those who do not suffer from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety disorders develop from a complex set of risk factors, including genetics, brain chemistry, personality, and life events.
Did you know that sharing your story helps others to:
-Validate their own experiences
-Feel a sense of belonging
-Feel encouraged to seek out resources
-Feel encouraged to ask someone for help
-Break stigmas around mental health
-Form better connections with others
-Seek out a coach and/or therapist
Have you ever read something that resonates so deeply with you and makes you feel compelled to do something?
For me, writing unlocks the secrets of the soul and shows everyone else the heart. The "truths" beneath the surface. The chaos of real life, for real people.
Writing will help you to analyze and process your problems. Writing will help you heal and grow.
You do not have to be an amazing writer or storyteller to share your story. You just have to be honest.
IN FACT, NO ONE TELLS YOUR STORY BETTER THAN YOU.
Something we do every day on social media is read about people's lives, like and appreciate their posts, as well as follow up on each other's stories.
I decided a long time ago that not hiding who I am and where I come from would be an essential part of my success and wellbeing. I knew it would be scary, intimidating, and at times make me the unpopular girl in the room.
When you share things on social media, it's as good as branding labels to your forehead for life. It gets shared and found everywhere. My daughter has googled me in school and found my involvement in projects or social accounts under my name. My footprint has already been set in motion for a long time.
I was once fearful of labels like: Poor, Crazy, Mental, Orphan, Disadvantaged, Broken, Blunt, Pathetic, Oversharer, Overtalker, Too much, etc.
I did not have an elevator speech prepared for the countless adults and peers I would meet at school, work, or just while socializing who would ask things about me. But as questions would arise about my life, my life story would unfold regardless. Sometimes all at once, I would unload all these details that seem wild to others but were just a part of who I knew myself to be.
I'll give you an example from my early college years. P=peer :
P1: What classes are you taking this semester? (Common question between everyone)
Me: I am taking "x,y,z" and beginners "xyz", what about you?
P1: Cool, I'm taking "xyz" and I work at "blah blah" on campus after 4 pm. Do you work part-time too? The union building has afternoon open positions right now.
Me: oh that's cool. Yeah, thanks so much but I have to get my daughter off the bus around that time, then take her to my evening class or to work on even days until 8 pm.
P1: oh you have a kid, you are so young?! How old is she?
Me: yeah, I was 16 when I had her. She is 5 now. I take my 6 classes and work part-time around her school schedule. So....what do you do for fun?
P1: WOW THAT'S CRAZY. I cannot even imagine. I don't even live out of my mom's house yet. Why don't you just have your parents take her? Or the father, there is a father right?
Me: yeah.. I don't have parents... I am on my own. We don't have anyone else. But it's fine. We are fine.
P1: So like did your parents die?
Me: no...well. no... they. Well, they are divorced, and both are addicts...and well sick. I am emancipated and I do not see them, since I was 16 actually.
P1: ...... woah... damn. Well uh,....good for you. You are really brave.
I had so many conversations with teachers and professionals in the fields I was passionate about as a potential career about "myself" and "my intentions" with my future. Although my biggest fear was to be judged in the beginning, I also feared being praised.
I rejected (in my mind) all forms of praise and recognition of any hard work + bravery + strength because I thought it was normal and healthy to feel ashamed of my life.
I was never once ashamed of becoming a teen mom, nor was I scared of motherhood. I loved it and still do. It's the job I know I was born to succeed in.
But the rest of it, those ugly truths, were my scars and my battle wounds that I was heavily ashamed of and even though I'd earned.
Now that I am older, I have rationalized these feelings and am working on a healthy mindset. This personal growth would have NEVER HAPPENED if I never shared my stories, written about them, or analyzed them for so many years.
If I had told every single person who tried to talk to me that I was just a normal student and had nothing going on in my life otherwise, I would have been stuck in that mindset for years. Maybe forever.
I realize now that it is fucking brave, strong, amazing to survive trauma. To overcome obstacles in your path ----> no matter how big or small the obstacles are.
I realize now that so many people became my friend after hearing WHO I was and WHAT I overcame. They felt comfortable when I showed up as my authentic self.
A few people did not. A few people had something bad to say. Or were ignorant. And that is ok. Those times helped me have extra confidence in who I am as a person. I realized I would never ever treat anyone the way they treated me. And I am thankful for those lessons.
What I learned and I have lived through is a lot. But it's no better or worse than anyone else's struggles. It is not even unique. You know how I learned that? Not from Google. Not from American sitcoms.
I was approached by several people over the years who wanted to tell ME they were going through a hard time, that they had an addiction, that someone they loved had an addiction, that they thought they were pregnant, that they wanted to break up with an abuser, that they had a toxic home life.
People naturally came to me, to share these deep and personal problems because I had already shared mine. So much I was known for it. And even strangers confided in me.
That makes my heart so happy. So fulfilled.
I now take on new labels, and I am open to even more.
BRAVE. RESILIENT. LOVING. RESOURCEFUL. COMPASSIONATE. STRONG. COMMITTED.
It feels good, and I am sure of it, to share my heart and soul every day. To not spend my life hiding in the shadows of other peoples' stories. Because I share who I am constantly, I have gained opportunities and the things I want most in life:
■my first job in college
■my college acceptance letters BA / MA
■my husband (and our friendship)
■passion + creativity
All of these great things in my past and present have been attracted into my life because of who I truly am, even if I am a little broken.
Now I plan on using my knowledge and experience to create a tribe, a platform for people to share their stories, and publish books.
I want to encourage more people to trade their labels in.
SCARED ---> BRAVE
What do hard experiences do to us?
They teach us. They refine us. Sometimes they break us. I hope I can inspire others here to join me in storytelling, authenticity, and healing.
TRAUMATIZED ---> AWAKENED
Mental health blogger, content creator, and creative writer. I write about trauma, mental health, and holistic wellness to empower other trauma survivors. Follow my blogs @Jadedsaviorblog @Startthrivingnotsurviving linktr.ee/jeangrey888