Colorful leaves of trees, abstract natur

*Yet Still, I Rise*

"…Cause I rise above it,

and I, pick myself up,

and I dust the pain off of my heart…

And I'll be alright, and I'll love again,

and the wounds will mend. I'm bruised but not broken;

and the pain will fade;

I'll get back on my feet…

It's not the end of me…

My heart is still open. I'm bruised but not broken…"

~Joss Stone

Ever since I was a child, I have been told that there is a long line of strong women in my family. These many women, from my grandmother's ancestors, onto my mother, were said to be hard working intelligent women who had their own mind and made their own choices. Common sense was no stranger to them, and their ambition with leadership qualities was always something they were admired and praised for. Success was also something they all obtained, but in different ways. So it seems that every time a girl was born into the family, she grew up to be a strong level-headed woman. It seems that they were blessed with a prosperous future and an open-mind as soon as they came into the world.

How lucky is that? To have a family history with such a strong background. I should feel lucky. No, I should feel blessed and appreciative. Because I know that it is truly possible to be a part of the “Strong Women” group that I have been raised to join. I mean, isn’t this my future? My promise? My job? Surely I will follow the same path as my ancestors.

These are just a few thoughts and questions I ask myself when I think about who I am and what I have done in my life to be a strong, successful, and prosperous woman. You see, I always felt like I was the “Black Sheep” in my family. I was very privileged when I was young to have money and a hard working mother that provided everything I needed to be successful in life. But I did not use those tools to my advantage. Instead I was attracted to the rebel life. The life of doing what I want to do, and living in the now, instead of thinking about my future. By the time I started to think about my future and grow up, it was too late. I was already 18, head strung, frustrated, and too anxious to get out into the world. And because I did not heed my mother’s words, and listen to what my family told me to do, I became lost with no plan to take care of myself and my needs. All I knew is that I have to go to college and get a job. I mean, duh, that’s common sense, but to know that was not enough. I needed to learn how to be bold in my ventures and chase after what I wanted. What I needed for that matter. Not just take my time, hope for the best, and wait for a miracle to take me away from my problems. And now, I am still feeling like the Black Sheep. The one who is the disappointment. The one who follows their own path and has their own way of doing things; good or bad, safe or dangerous. With cousins, and family friends all living a prosperous successful life, I am the one who is always left out of the group. Because I do not live a prosperous and successful life. I am stuck. And it sucks.

In a couple of years, I will have a 30 year life, and right now, all I can think is “What the hell have I done with my life? Where did my youth go? When will I find my purpose?”

They say success could come at any time in a person's life. You could be very young, very old, or right in the middle, it doesn’t matter. God has a plan for everyone, and he gives you the path to take to find your purpose, but there is no date known to man as of WHEN you will find it. There is not even a guidebook as to WHAT your purpose may be. Some people end up living their life serving the purpose they always wanted to. And some people end up finding their purpose to be a complete surprise, but fulfilling all the same.

So, I wonder, when will I find my purpose? Because right now, I feel helpless. I feel...drained, lost, and unproductive. Like I have wasted so much of my youth doing so many meaningless things, that I feel like I will never become a successful woman like the women in my family have. This is a shame because I feel in my heart such a purpose for something. Such a strong desire to learn and be enlightened. To travel and go on adventures. To know and understand the world, and all the people in it. It’s a sad and frustrating feeling to have your mind and heart gasping for air. Gasping to breathe in a productive life that is meant for you, and only you. You feel like you are drowning. Your mind races with questions on how to find your life’s achievement and what it might be. And your heart yearns to feel no more anxiety from not knowing and not feeling peace.

I don’t think people understand this feeling, or at least they just don’t talk much about what it feels like to be a failure in your own eyes, and in your family's eyes too. I don’t think many people can explain the pain that is felt when you KNOW you have a better purpose in life, and that you deserve, but you just can’t find it. You can’t grasp it, but you know it's there. Some days it feels close, and other days it just feels miles and miles away. You take in the daily stress of living a lie and no one can help you understand where you are going, and no one can lift you up by telling you what your future holds. You feel weak, sad, and alone. It’s heartbreaking to even think about it…

I don’t want this to seem like it is written from sadness and shame. Although it may sound that way right now, that is not what this article is about. I am merely saying that I have always felt like the Black Sheep because I am different from everyone else in my family. I was raised differently than my successful cousins and our family friends. I did not have a happy childhood, and I have had more sadness and disappointments in my short life than many may think and know. So of course I feel like the Black Sheep. I was a rebel because I just couldn’t conform to the normalcy of everyone else. I always wanted to see what it was like on the other side of the fence. And if my curiosity got the best of me, so be it. I have so many stories and life lessons to tell now because of it. I can say not that I have lived a crazy life, and it’s not going to stop surprising me anytime soon. I may both be successful now, but I know God has a plan for me and that is why he puts me through so much. He wants me to be ready for my greatest blessing. He wants me to really appreciate my purpose once I find it by making me jump through hoops of fire to get to test my faith. I may not be where I want to be in life right now, but I am far from where I used to be; which is a good thing. And even with all of the odds stacked up against me, and constant bad luck, I still went on to do bigger and better things for myself.

It takes a true fighter to never give up, even when everyone is telling you that you should. But yet still, I rise…

From the dark corners of my mind that keep me up at night; telling me that I can do no more, go no further, and obtain nothing, I hear your negative words, but yet still, I rise.

When people tell me I am not good enough and I can never do this or that, or go here and there, I listen to your doubtful remarks, and yet still, I rise.

From living a life filled with many failures and many disappointments that pushed me to the brink of giving up on myself and life, I remember those times, and I remember the pain I felt; yet still, I rise.

I loved and lost many men that made promises to me that they could never keep, and I wept to myself many nights never knowing if they were sorry or not. Never knowing if I was the cause of the betrayal or not. I learned my lessons in love, and I am still working on forgiving them and myself. But even with those rocking anxious thoughts of past loves and relationships, I am smarter because of it, and yet still, I rise.

I am a single woman in my late 20’s with very few assets to my name, and not enough accomplishments to be proud of, but I am still young, and I still have so much more I can give and obtain. I am no fool, and I have never been lazy. I just have to find my niche. But yet still, I rise.

There are many things about me that are so imperfect that It will take a special man to love me, my past, and my anxieties. But I have to remember that nobody's perfect, everyone is flawed, and everyone has a past. So if that person is willing to be imperfect with me, and if they are willing to work as a team to get through this crazy life in love and faith, then I will be blessed by it. But if not, that’s okay, because I can take care of myself, and I know I deserve the best. So yet still, I rise.

And if I should choose to follow my dreams and take those scary risks that I have been thinking about for years, I will be brave in that decision. For I know that every day is not promised to me, and every day must be lived like it is new, fresh, and cleaned of all the problems of yesterday. You never know what life has in store for you. And even if I don’t know what my purpose is and where exactly I am headed, maybe that is the best for me. Maybe I am not allowed to know the blueprints of my life and what the plan is. Maybe trying to control every aspect of my life is not necessary. Maybe it is just slowing me down. If I let my life take the lead and take me where I need to go, maybe it will show me my purpose sooner than I thought. Who knows…one can only hope.

At night, before I go to sleep, I wonder if my ancestors look down at me and see a fighter? A champion. A leader. I wonder if they can see me trying to do my best with what I have and I hope they know that I yearn to be like them and more. I want to make them proud, and I want to be proud of myself too. I suppose only time will tell. I can only promise that I will never give up and I will always keep the faith that something better is coming. That something wonderful is going to come swoop me off my feet and take away all my guilt and shame. But until that time comes, I will jump through hoops and ace every test given to me. Because no matter what terrible things I have to face, I know that when it’s all over, and everything is said and done, I will be the one who wins. And I will be the one to RISE.

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