Taking Chances: My Experience as a TWLOHA Intern

By Elizabeth WilderOctober 2, 2016

109 days. 7 people. 1 tiny beach town in Florida. That’s all it took to change my life.

I’m writing this from California. If you would have told me a year ago that I would be sitting here today across from someone who lives 2,286 miles away from me, I wouldn’t believe you. I would laugh and doubt and dream that something like that could even be possible. But being a To Write Love on Her Arms intern allowed me this opportunity and so many more, each incredibly beautiful and impossible to foresee.

Rewind to last year: I was a broken person pretending not to be broken. I needed purpose. I needed a reason to wake up every morning and say, “Hell yeah, I can do this.” TWLOHA had always been in the back of my head, but it became ever-present when I began to struggle. So last summer, I decided to apply for TWLOHA’s internship program.

And I was waitlisted.

I felt defeated, but I wasn’t destroyed. I convinced myself it wasn’t meant to be, that it just wasn’t the right time.

Later that year I caught wind that Jamie Tworkowski would be speaking at our local college, and I decided to go at the last minute. Afterward I got to meet and talk with him. I told him I had applied for the internship again, but that was a lie. I had no intention of applying again. But I had just lied to the founder of TWLOHA! I went home, rushed through the application and video process, and hoped for the best.

I was waitlisted. Again.

I was angry, confused, and officially done.

But then a week later I received an e-mail saying that a spot had opened up. And they wanted me.

In January, I uprooted my life in Kentucky and moved to the small town of Melbourne, Florida, to live and work with six complete strangers. Walking into the Intern House for the first time was equal parts nerve-wracking and exciting. I was welcomed with hugs and hellos and a love I had never felt before. I can tell you this with confidence: throwing seven 20-somethings together creates a beautiful chaos. There were late-night patio talks, countless sunsets, trivia on Monday nights, laughs shared, tears shed, and Wednesday morning breakfasts with the guys. You would have thought we had known each other forever.

There were also endless days at the TWLOHA office working alongside the incredibly humble and hilarious staff. We answered messages from supporters, packed merchandise orders, and prepared for events like our 10-year anniversary and annual Run For It 5k. There was never a dull moment, and there was always an air of excitement, a sense that you belonged and you were worthy of being a part of the team.

Needless to say, heavy came along with the light. There were days of questioning whether or not I really deserved to be there. There were days where depression hit too hard and tensions ran high within the house. I had to adapt and learn to step back and gain perspective. I had to breathe and allow myself grace. I had to allow others grace, no matter how difficult it was. All seven of us were there for the same reason: to spread a message of hope and help. Gaining that perspective allowed me to combat the dark and allow the light back in. Those six other people were there to pick me back up, to show me kindness, and to be a part of me for the rest of my life. I was so lucky.

I am still so lucky.

If you are looking for a sign, this is it. Step out of your comfort zone and take a chance on yourself. Apply for the internship program, and if you get waitlisted the first time, apply again.

After all…

I’m writing this from California. Next to one of my best friends. Because of TWLOHA, I now have best friends from California, Texas, South Carolina, New York, and Canada. You won’t know what friendships are waiting to happen or what memories are yet to be made unless you take a chance.

Take a chance on the program. Take a chance on yourself.

Apply to be a TWLOHA intern here

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Comments (7)

  1. Bellla

    Thank you for the work you do, and the heart you do it with Ms Wilder
    God bless

    Reply  |  
  2. Leonie Janssen

    One moment it sounds absolutely great to be an intern.
    The next thought is all the problems it brings with it: money, friends, work, is my English good enough, no study/experience with mental health and all this standard stuff in life. Is it all worth it? I never thought about it so deeply.. maybe I’ll do that when I really feel it is the time to apply.

    Reply  |  
  3. Adriana

    That is good

    Reply  |  
  4. Tasha

    I keep thinking that I would love to be a twloha intern, but then I don’t know whether I would be able to handle it all. Plus it’s half way around the world from me and I get nervous meeting a load of strangers for the first time, let alone living with them!
    It is a dream of mine but maybe in a year or two if I feel stronger and more confident…

    Reply  |  
  5. KiKi

    I would never qualify. Seems they only take 20 somethings…. guess there isn’t a place there for me

    Reply  |  
  6. Jess

    Being a TWLOHA intern was the best experience I ever had.
    If you’re thinking about applying, go and do it now!

    Reply  |  
  7. Cheyenne

    I really want to apply…I think I will. Not for this summer though, (I already have other work commitments), but next summer for sure. I’ll save my money. I’ll take the jump. TWLOHA is where I need to be. I hope I am able to see some of your beautiful souls soon! Peace&Love

    Reply  |  
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