I was honored to write a guest post for an organization who has really shown me how powerful empowerment is. My life has been full of many twist and turns, but I’d like to think that I’m finally learning how to roll with the punches.
Becoming empowered is a process, and it took a lot of time, healing ,and will to find it within myself. However, I am so happy I did because without becoming self-empowered I would have missed out on a life changing journey which will forever have an impact on my life.
Today I am sharing the original post with you on how I found self-empowerment despite being faced with limitations. Be sure to also visit the NFCA’s blog to get the inside scoop on what’s going on inside and outside of the NFCA office!
What does, “expect the unexpected,” mean to you? This was an exact interview question, which was given to me during my international service trip (ISP) interview. As I heard these words I felt both fear and a thrill of excitement. However, as I thought more about this central ISP theme, I began to realize this phrase could describe my life for the passed eight years.
I don’t understand why certain events have happened in my life, but I certainly know that each hardship has taught me valuable life lessons. While dwelling on the “why question” was a part of my grief process when I was first diagnosed with gluten-sensitivity, I quickly realized this was not going to help me live my best life.
As Robin Roberts says, “make your mess your message.” Whether big or small, we all have our own challenges. In the end I truly feel that you will not be defined by your “something,” rather people will remember you for what you did with your life after you faced adversity.
After I was diagnosed, I was full of fear. Food, going out to eat, and getting sick again were fears, which controlled my life. However, in 2011 I made a choice to make a change by starting my blog, Embrace G-Free. Not only did this help get me back cooking in the kitchen, but it also allowed me to become empowered.
Empowerment is one of the words which is continually tossed around in my counseling classes. However, I truly believe empowerment is a concept that you can’t fully understand until you personally experience it. As a future counselor I feel blessed that I will have the opportunity to help my clients become empowered. However, it is possible to discover self-empowerment without the guidance of a professional.
One of the best things you can do to achieve self-empowerment is set a goal; big or small, size doesn’t matter. What makes the difference is your attitude. Throw the self-doubt out the door. “I can’t” isn’t an option. By no means am I saying you will achieve all your goals. I for sure haven’t; failing is part of life. It is possible you may discover a barrier which prevents you from achieving your goal. However if you take all the proper steps and know you did everything in your power to try to achieve your goal, consider it a success. In taking action rather than letting your dreams pass you by, you will begin to feel more empowered.
If you haven’t picked up on it by now, self-empowerment is something I am so passionate about because becoming empowered has moved my life in such a positive direction and has provided me with experiences which I am forever grateful for. Finding empowerment through my diagnosis was one of life’s “unexpected” moments, eventually leading me to achieving a goal which I was ready to give up on. However a long-term college dream was achieved this past May when I was blessed to go on an international service trip to El Salvador.
It was a long process to see if this goal could even be achieved. I started back in April 2012 and continued when I returned to school in September to make sure sites could accommodate my needs. It was one thing to want to go on an ISP trip, but I needed to ensure I could do it safely. Patience, diligence, determination and an incredible program director helped me get thru step one. Once I got the green light, it was onto getting over the hurdles of application selections and an interview process.
I will never forget the day I received the e-mail notifying me that I was selected to travel to El Salvador. I cried and would of screamed if I wasn’t at work. The planning process was incredible and in May my group and I were ready to head off to El Salvador.
While many people see a service trip as a way to serve others, I can honestly say that the people and experiences I had taught me more than I could ever give to the people I served. Although I felt empowered prior to ISP, this experience truly allowed me to take my feeling of empowerment to a new level. Not only was I faced with the challenge of new food allergy diagnoses a month before the trip, but while in El Sal all my fears that I had prior to leaving happened. Despite this, I was OK.
I truly believe it was my individual choices, which helped me overcome the challenges I faced. For example, rather than crying when I walked in the first night and realized I couldn’t eat the main meal, I took a deep breath to calm myself down, “told myself it was going to be OK” and made an almond butter sandwich. Overall that was one of the only meals I couldn’t eat, and when I was unsure I did without and turn to a safe option I brought with me.
After going on this trip I really began to realize even though food is our medicine, it doesn’t have to make or break our experiences. Of course enjoying some of the cultural dishes was wonderful and delicious, however, when I look back 20 years from now, I will not remember the foods I ate. Rather my memories will be of all the wonderful relationships I built during those 7 special days in El Salvador.
Food is our medicine, but don’t let it stop you from achieving your goals.