When I was little, I always knew I was supposed to change the world. Although, I spent the first 13 years of my life literally hiding from the world amid the chaos that was my childhood, I had this distinct understanding there was more I was meant to do. I didn't speak to many people growing up. I was shy, unsure and frightened. My comforts were reading books, watching classic films and day dreaming. I would daydream about being part of a new world, one that had love, happiness and acceptance as a foundation. I imagined joy in all its radiant colors and people laughing and singing and being kind to one another. I dreamed up projects and poetry and movie ideas to counteract the time I spent overcoming being bullied and scared of the world.
When I was 25 I went on a forgiveness quest. All the pain I stored from being abused as a child, and bullied and discriminated against, had left me a very hurt and confused young woman. It was such a contrast to the way I felt when I thought of myself as a "Game Changer." I couldn't very well impact other people's lives if I was so far stuck in my fear and the past that I had trouble moving forward. I was committed to my personal growth. So I wrote a book. I delved deep into my childhood and extracted all that was holding me back, and I shared my journey on the Internet. My pain was transparent for anyone to see, and it was exhilarating. Before long, my readership had grown by thousands, and people were inspired by the stories I shared. For the first time, I came to truly understand my gift and ability to inspire.
As with any evolution story, there were obstacles to overcome. The emotional journey I went through as a result of my release would take me for a wild ride. The misconception most have is that once you begin the healing process, and step into your "purpose," everything goes smoothly.
It does not.
I constantly had to discover how I thrived. I had to reach deep within every time I felt myself go off track or when I temporarily lost faith in myself. And I did lose faith, many times. But when I traveled on a solo trip through Europe when I was 26, I rediscovered how imperative it was that I show up in the world. Six months later, I would launch a love, hugs and inspiration campaign where I passed out free hugs and poetry books to passersby on the streets. This year, I am on my way to hugging 10,000 people through that campaign.
At 30, I launched a number of initiatives, including the Skip to Your Bliss campaign, which inspired people to skip to recover a sense of joy through pain. There was the Creative Visionaries workshop, which I offered for free, so that people could remember their childhood daydreams and step into their original purpose. Forty days of meditation netted me a closer look inside my spiritual self, as well as a day spent accidentally locked in a closet!
What pushed me further than I ever imagined was my 21 Days of Fearlessness. For 21 days, I inspired myself and others to step outside their comfort zone and overcome fear. On day three, I came out as part of the LGBT community. On day five, I went indoor skydiving. I was terrified of heights. I read stories of other people overcoming fear -- climbing cliffs, forgiving parents or friends and one confessed their love for another. There were the small things, too, like ordering a different drink on the menu, or taking another way home, but the impact was powerful.
In my flurry of ideas and projects, I gave much of myself away. I thrived, knowing that as I changed, so did the world. But life at that pace can be challenging. My body has shut down more than I care to admit. On my journey, I have battled agoraphobia, severe panic disorder and attacks, countless emergency room visits, autoimmune disorders and other strange ailments. As an empath I can take on the pain of the world in my effort to change it. I work hard so that it does not continue to affect me.
Then came divine intervention.
While meditating three years ago, I was given a beautiful vision. I was gifted instructions to build a multimedia network and e-commerce platform called EqualityTV, which would highlight marginalized and underrepresented communities not featured in mainstream media. This vision was so detailed and expansive that I have written hundreds of pages outlining the vision. Over the last three years, I have spent my entire life savings, every breath, every moment, every resource and every idea on manifesting this vision into reality. I have had a few starts and stops, many failed attempts and heart breaks.
I launched the "I Am Equality" photo campaign which had thousands of participants across five countries and 17 cities. When there was no media coverage, and the project failed to get off the ground, my spirits sank. Some days, being a visionary isn't easy.
I have learned so many lessons along the way; my life is forever changed by my journey. I am blessed to connect with people around the world, whose lives are changed because I press forward even through the failures.
Being a visionary is the hardest thing I have ever been. Yet it is all I know how to be. I am surrounded by naysayers, obstacles and challenges. I am also surrounded by those who stand behind me and co-create and believe in my vision to change the world. I have wanted to give up more than I would like to reveal. But I have come to realize a very important thing -- I thrive because I am on an adventure. I thrive through the failures, through the tears, through the pain, through the fear and through the moments when my body says, "No more! I cannot go on!" I thrive because every single day, I am doing what I love and what I was meant to do.
I don't know all the answers, and I don't have all I need to make the dream happen today. But I walk in faith, knowing that I will have all I need and that I will make this vision come alive. I also know that I change the world every day I wake up and hug a stranger, pass out a poetry book or share an inspiring affirmation. I change the world in every step I take towards building my company, or launch a new project, or take a leap forward despite the fear and the criticism. I change the world because I am a visionary. My motto is: "I believe in possibilities, not impossibilities." I couldn't ask for a greater life because mine is purposeful and it is what I intentionally create.
I thrive because I dare to dream.