Some have asked what my greatest accomplishment in life has been – I have participated in some noteworthy activities, won cool awards and have been successful in a few ventures, but my greatest accomplishment has been harnessing pain and cultivating it into passion. The passion to help others walk through the most challenging days of their lives. The passion to rise above difficult circumstances and gain perspective. The passion to help others be BRAVE.
Have you ever thought about what it means to be brave? I see the word every time I turn around – on moms’ t-shirts at the grocery store, home decor at Hobby Lobby and bracelets in the jewelry department and JCPenney’s, but what does it actually mean?
To me, bravery is recognizing the trials and hurdles that stand in your way, but deciding that what is on the other side of those dangers is more important! Oftentimes, we discount our ability to be brave because we may not see ourselves as such. We think the only way to to demonstrate courage is to be a fireman running into a burning building or a soldier charging into battle. While these are tremendous acts of bravery, I would submit that, under my definition, we ALL have the ability to be brave! We all have the ability to decide we are willing to walk through harm, suffer pain and battle uncertainty to accomplish our goal. Many times, our most painful life experiences afford us the greatest opportunity for growth and for realizing our own character and strength.
Some of my most painful life experiences have happened in the last 8 years. My freshman year of high school, I was thirteen years old – yes, thirteen. I began dating an upperclassman and within a month of our dating relationship, my innocence was in shambles as I became a victim of sexual assault. It took me 5 years to tell anyone about my experience. Not only was I victimized by someone I thought I could trust, but I was also victimized by shame and blame. I began to work through some of my pain by myself and felt I was on a good track to recovery, but that is when my parents sat me down one evening and told me my father was going to be deployed to Afghanistan for a year. The hardest trial of my life was no longer the pain I felt inside, but the anxiety I felt as I faced a year without my mentor, best friend and father. Upon his return to the states, we had almost exactly four more fun-filled years together as a family. On February 16th, 2017 at 3:32 PM, I received a phone call from my mother that has forever altered my life. Through her tears and shaky voice I was able to understand two sentences, two horrific sentences: “There has been a plane accident. Daddy didn’t make it.”
These three life-altering events have brought me more pain in my short, 21 years than some people experience in a lifetime. Over the past 8 years, I have struggled to gain perspective and understand how to process the emotions I feel. It is my definition of bravery coupled with these three major events that led me to found my organization, BRAVE, in 2015. BRAVE’s mission is to empower others to make courageous choices as they walk through life-altering events.
In my experience, it is at the height of pain that many make choices they will later regret. Some turn to alcohol or drugs, others get mixed up in “the wrong crowd”, and almost all find themselves in a fog of anger and pain.
BRAVE seeks to be a sanctuary that helps bare the weight of victim’s burdens. Through education, advocating on the frontlines and “Me Too” Mentoring, BRAVE partners with victims of any life-altering event and travels with them on their journey to becoming a survivor.
I have experimented with boosted and sponsored posts and my fair share of hashtags to promote BRAVE’s mission. The purpose of this blog is to explore other similar, non-profit organizations’ social media strategies so that I may better BRAVE’s online presence. I believe deeply in BRAVE’s message and want to continue to explore its relevance on social media so that it may truly alter the lives of those walking through a cold, dark pain only known to those who have walked the road before them.