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.
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.