Name: Emily S. (23, PA)
Favorite Inspirational Song: "Remembered" - Dizzy Wright
Contact - IG: @emilysteiner
The night I turned 22 I was raped by a dude who I thought was the one. He let me stumble home from a club, and took my request to undress me as an invitation to have him some fun.
I was newly-graduated, college educated, and working a full-time job on a year off before law school. I was out celebrating with a handful of people I no longer call my friends, consuming beverages I no longer let pass between my lips. I was doing what everyone else my age was doing (and that was the problem).
After that night I could no longer live comfortably in the environment I was in. It always smelled of shame and the sunlight never snuck in through the windows the way I wanted it to. It was always dark. And I knew if I ever wanted to grow, I would have to change my environment. So I did.
I moved into the safety of my grandparents’ home where I invested time in self-loving, frolicking in the mountains at the foothills of Squaw Peak. I swore to myself that I would not put myself in situations unless they were going to help me progress. And I was going to worry less about being in control, and more about going with the flow (and that changed my entire scope of vision).
Two months later I found out that a boy I had loved was murdered.
Finding out the news that someone you once shared your life with, shared your soul with, has departed… that feeling cannot be put into words.
I started questioning everything. What lessons had I learned from him? What lessons am I learning from the people I am around now? What happens with the souls of people who didn’t get to live out their time? What happens with all his plans and goals? What happens with mine?
Time stopped for a total of two days. Three days later, I woke up to an e-mail from the school I attend now. They were offering me $40,000 a year toward my education; a full-ride scholarship to gain knowledge… to use my brain… to put my passion to work. I was going to be able to move across the country and to meet people and see things I may not have ever gotten the chance to otherwise.
(I recognize a blessing when I see one).
Knowing this, I focused my entire mentality on the possibility of growth:
I switched up my garden.
I stopped eating meat. I stopped complaining without purpose. I learned to stop myself from speaking limiting speech.
I stopped drinking booze. I stopped attending parties with my peers where the conversations were about as deep as vodka shot in a solo cup.
I stopped allowing any shade, any negativity, to block the shine.
And the growth continued.
I started practicing gratitude, verbally.
I started appreciating the contributions my friends and family make to my life. I started practicing forgiveness. I started counting my blessings every sunset.
I started helping those around me shift to positive thinking speaking .
I started nurturing my own roots and allowing myself to grow passed what others were doing or expecting of me.
I told myself that opportunities are what you make of them. I told myself that if someone can believe in my vision so much as to invest in it this greatly, I must invest in it even deeper.
I turn 23 today, and here is what I can say…
Your whole life can change in the blink of an eye. Moments in life are bound to pull you back. The magic lies in the fact that you can use that same force that drags you back to propel yourself into bigger and more purposeful stories. Know that all experiences guide your path and hardships exist to make you stronger, more prepared for the blessings ahead.
It has been quite the year. I am proud of who I am and can honestly say that a little desire to grow can take you a long way.