I once heard a saying that goes: Peace is a journey of a thousand miles and it must be taken one step at a time.

Easier said than done, right?

I gave Jay a friendship bracelet, 20-some-odd years ago as an elementary school promise to continue being friends through anything. I guess friendship bracelets work after all.

The past 10 years of my life has been a complete roller coaster ride of obstacles that I don’t know if I could have done on my own without the guidance of God, family, friends, and my own inner strength. In a sense, I was forced into ‘beast mode’ for my own sanity.

I was always, and still remain on the small side. Growing up I was always made fun of for being too ‘skinny’. Sounds ideal for some, but in reality it’s the same kind of feeling of being overweight. It hurt my self-esteem a lot and as a teenager made me question my own beauty.

I ended up in a very bad relationship. I guess looking back I shouldn’t call it a bad relationship since I emerged a better person, but we all have rough patches that we would never want to go back to. Every time I tried to get out, i got sucked back in, as if I needed that validation. The more I got hurt, the more I tried to change his mind. It was like a bad record that keeps replaying. I decided to talk to Jay about it. Not for a solution, but as someone to vent to. Who better than someone that has known me since I was playing with Barbie Dolls on my front steps? The more I said what was wrong with the relationship, the more I started to believe it. The more I started to believe in myself. He gave me the advice to take one step at a time concentrating on getting through each day as it comes rather than trying to look further down the line. I cried until I got angry. I realized that it’s OK to cry. Time heals all. It did.

From then, I picked myself up, took my own time to regain my own strength and started loving myself. I made a relationship with myself. I started reading, writing, socializing, dancing, and breathing more. It’s crazy, but in any situation that you find yourself that poses difficulty, we always feel a sense of suffocation, a sense of no way out. Want to start beast mode? Breathe.
A few years later I found the man that I married. Someone who put all my doubts to rest. I went to sleep with a sense of completion. I found my soul mate. I sent Jay Will a wedding invitation inviting him only to find out that he was getting married around the same time. How awesome! He commended and congratulated me on this new journey that we were both about to embark on.

Four and a half years later, there hasn’t been a whole week yet that I haven’t received a text from Jay seeing how I was. Needless to say, we all have marriage issues. I always say: If there are no arguments, someone is doing something wrong. We have different obstacles now I’ve learned to push myself for the solutions. I have my husband for support and I turn to God for peace.

In a world of social networking and media it’s easy to get lost in what seems like the glamorous life of others. It’s important to remember that we are all human and we all have imperfections that make us unique, that makes us stand apart. We all have the power within us to be the person we want to be, just have to find the channel to bring it out.
It’s easy to misinterpret real friends from acquaintances. Luckily there was a friendship bracelet that secured me to a true friend. Sometimes at the end of the day, you don’t need a solution…you just need your inner strength and someone to tell you that ‘everything is going to be OK’.
-Avena L.