A few months ago, at the This is Me event, held by the Jordan Chapter of Life in My Days I was super excited and super terrified to be sharing my story with mental health disorders with an audience for the first time. I was finally opening up to the universe and stepping up for who I really am.

Earlier in the day the Life in My Days team had put up the words 'I AM' in large letters outside, leaving a world for individuals to fill in with what they found suitable to describe them. For hours I watched individuals fill the space, from blank letters into a maze of the most beautiful of words. I stood by, watching people rushing to finish it with parts of their souls that they saw worth sharing with the universe.

Now, after my speech, I stood outside to catch my breath, soaking up in the moments, and overwhelmed with emotions when I was brought back to reality with a person asking "I’m not sure how to finish it."

"What do you like the most about yourself?" I said. And they stared past me, within those stares I heard thousands of stories. I heard stories of heartbreak, confusion, loss, despair... everything. They were stories that guided them between the hidden gems within their souls. At that moment, I realized how powerful and inspiring they are, always were.

I am hopeful, strong, beautiful, enough, blessed, not alone, a legend, a fighter, a survivor, a warrior, and I am trying! Those and more were all wonderful compliments by so many inspiring souls. Souls that were brought together that day by their need to be heard. To reach out and tell people, I am not what I have been through, I am so much more.

I looked back again and kept reading through the beautiful and chaotic words. I thought about how we mostly tend to define ourselves with what we think we should be, what we believe is the right answer, and what others think we are. Along the way completely neglecting our true unique self, distancing ourselves and our emotions. And not realizing that there’s no wrong and right answer for who we are!

We are just so fascinated with all our imperfections and endless efforts to be better humans.

And then there comes a time, when someone stops you and asks you: “tell me who you really are?” and you can finally see, and understand, finally have permission just to be.

I finally understood after so many years of self-doubt that my experiences do not define who I am. That I am not my disabilities, I'm the person who fought through them. The person who kept going, had faith, and most importantly, the person who spoke even when their voice was shaking.

I asked myself, stood on a stage, and wrote within the lines of 'I AM,' so now I invite you to stop, think, and tell me who you really are?

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