Strength is not going through a hard time and surviving it. Real strength is facing adversity, and learning to thrive off of it. People will crumble when faced with a serious event, while others will learn to bounce back. I’ve been around domestic abuse since I was 12, and my battle to survive and thrive became harder when I was raped at 15. Tough situations happen for a reason. We feel the pain so that when it goes away, we are reminded of how much it is worth it to be alive and feel happiness. Let the events that have happened to you be a reason to live, not a reason to die. There are two ways to live this life, fight or flight. I did not always have this outlook on life. Depression consumed me for months on end. One day I would wake up and feel great. I would remind myself how lucky I am to be alive and to live like I’ve never been hurt before. Some days, however, I would wake up angry. I would wake up and ask myself, “Why am I here? After all that’s happened, can’t it just end?” The more I thought like that, the worse I began to feel. I wanted it to end. I wanted my life to be over, so I wouldn’t have to keep living with the pain of an achy heart. I didn’t want to have to dig the blade into my skin every time I felt an emotion. I didn’t want to have to convince myself to get out of bed in the morning and remind myself that I am worth it. That should come naturally, I shouldn’t have to convince myself to want to be alive. I was not fighting, I was begging to fly away. I was letting out of control events control me. I was taking the blows and letting them keep me down. Yes, I’ve been through tough times and survived, but does that make me a strong person? I was crumbling. I was wishing death upon myself. That is not thriving. I couldn’t let myself be this way. Everything happens for a reason. Things happen to a person to make them and shape them into who they are today. My friend recently asked me, “If you could have one wish, what would it be?” At first I thought about going back in time and making sure I wasn’t raped. Then, I changed my mind. If that never happened to me, would I be the person I am today? Was that event supposed to happen to me and make me learn to thrive? Whenever you ask yourself, “Why did this happen to me?” Remember, you may survive this, but you have to learn to thrive on it. Take adversity and turn it into a reason to live, a reason to fight back and prove to everyone, most importantly yourself, that you are not going to be pushed down. Keep going. Keep living. Keep thriving.