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Model & Artist Faith Costa

Life is not always easy. At some point in everyone's life, there are challenges that one must overcome. For me, I've definitely had a few. Growing up I was more than fortunate to have a loving and supportive family and a beautiful home. Still to this day, I have those things and I never go a day without being grateful for it all. However, even with those things in my favor, I found out relatively early on in life that I had clinical depression, anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Being a little girl and realizing you're very different from everyone else is one thing, so on top of that, when that same little girl is getting brutally bullied every single day throughout elementary, middle, high school and even a bit into adulthood, it makes life a bit difficult. The daily routine of just trying to get out of bed and make it to school on time was a mini battle that I either won or lost every day. If I won that battle, I'd move on to the next one.. surviving the day at school.

Trying not to completely break down while kids pointed, laughed, pushed, shoved, passed me aggressive and threatening notes, threw things at, or shamed me to my face was always a tough battle to win, but I take pride in knowing that I made it through every single one of those days. Those days were long ones. They were beyond mentally and physically exhausting. Trying to get through a day with a smile on my face so that the bullies wouldn't know I was hurting, all the while having crippling depression, anxiety and OCD seemed more than impossible. How did I get through those days? How did I go to bed each night after fighting the longest of battles, only to have to wake up and do it all again the next day and day after that? I can't lie and say there weren't days when I wanted to give up. There were quite a few of those. There was one thing I was sure of though and it was that I could get through the worst of days knowing that I could come home to my beautiful home and be with people I knew loved me more than life itself. Knowing that I had at least one thing in my life that I loved, my family, was worth more than any mean thing a bully could ever say or do to me. The hundreds of thousands of "I love you” from my family gave me the strength to conquer all of the "I hate you” I got from kids that didn't even really know me. Was it easy? Absolutely not. Did it shape me and mold me to become the strong and resilient person I am today? Absolutely, yes.

Through all of those years, there were even more challenges. Ones that I'm not ready to talk about, but they are valid. The point is, I made it through. I am now a woman in my 20s who refuses to give up, who has many passions, who has goals and aspirations and who is lucky to still have my blessing of a family. No matter what happens in your life that might not seem ideal, know that life is so much more. Life can be filled with love and successes. Life is a journey, a plethora of battles that you can choose to fight, that you will always win even if they feel like losses, and that make you stronger. Remember, you are a warrior. You are fierce and a force to be reckoned with. You have the power to bring kindness and compassion into this world. Don't be afraid to share your story.

We need to celebrate our stories because they are what make us, us. Bumps in the road are not failures, because in the grand scheme of things life is one giant win. We get to choose how we impact this world. I am choosing to spread love because there is already too much hate and I refuse to be a part of it. I am choosing to spread awareness because sometimes all it takes is for someone to see that they are not alone to make a day a little bit brighter and more hopeful. I am choosing to be the hope. I am choosing to share my story, at least for now, one chapter at a time.