It was exactly 4 years ago today that I stepped on stage to share my story for the very first time.
I remember waking up that morning wondering what the heck am I about to do? Who am I to share my story? What privilege or knowledge did I have that others didn’t? I was barely 60 days into recovery and was not sure of what kind of impact this moment would have on my life. I was frightened, anxious, and worried about what other people would think. I had never shared my story publicly before and I had no idea what was going to happen. Before I left home that morning my sister sat me down and prayed for me. One of the first times in my life where someone sat and prayed with me and for me. As I left I started to feel this moment of relief and thought “I got this”.
Shortly after I got to the hotel, I remember walking through the hotel halls into the big convention center. When I walked in I could hear the hundred’s and I mean HUNDREDS of freshman students before me who I was about to speak to. Immediately, I wanted to turn around and run. Here I was, 20 years old, fresh in recovery, with this burning desire in my heart to speak out. I had my note cards all ready to go with what I wanted to speak about. But, as I stepped on stage and my team started to present I became extremely nervous. Have you ever had that type of nervousness where you get that lump in your throat, your stomach tightens, and you feel like you can’t breathe? That was me. In those moments, I turned to my best friend and said, “I can’t do this”. He looked back at me and said something so simple yet so important that it forever changed my life. He said, “It’s your story, you can’t mess it up.” After that, once again I got this feeling of relief that everything was going to be okay. I stepped up to the microphone, left my notecards to the side, and spoke from the heart.
I can’t tell you exactly what came out of my mouth that day nor could I have repeated what I said after I stepped off stage. But, one thing I do know, is when I stepped off stage that day, that’s when everything became clear to me. It was in those moments that I knew that God has sent me here for this specific reason. To speak out, to share my story, and to give others the opportunity to share theirs. To let others, know that they are NOT ALONE. To let them know, that it is okay to speak out about their struggles and especially okay to speak out about recovery.
When we speak out, it encourages and gives others the power and courage to share as well.
We all have a platform. Use the platform that fits best for you. Maybe that’s sharing online, in a book, on stage, with a friend, or even a neighbor. Whatever works best for you, get out of your comfort zone a little, and SHARE YOUR VOICE! Share about what matters most to you and, most importantly, speak your truth so that others will speak theirs.