Don’t Let It Break You

It turns out that you and I have much more in common than I thought.

Sure, you may not have been burned in a fire at seventeen or worn a mask for two years while you recovered, but the overwhelming response to my book tells me that we all have masks of our own making.

There are all kinds of things we do to ourselves to make us appear less broken. If they’re not masks, maybe they’re airs we put on to disguise what’s going on under the surface. In the end, our greatest asset may be the pride we take in being broken without letting it break us.

One of the most important ways that I stepped into my confidence was recognizing that no one else shared my worldview. I had gone through a life-changing—no, a harrowing—experience that forever altered my perspective and my face. And when I began to evaluate my career options after I graduated from high school, I had very well-meaning friends and relatives encourage me to pursue a less public-facing profession.

I know their suggestions came from a good place; they wanted to spare me from any unfair judgment I might encounter in a high-profile job. But as I weighed two opportunities I was offered—one very low profile with FEMA and the other an exciting future with Mutual of Omaha where I’d interact with clients every day—it dawned on me that, actually, I owned this decision. It was mine to make.

How could I let others tell me what my limitations were simply because I looked different after the fire? This realization was incredibly liberating because I began to reclaim my decisions about the career I chose and the life I led. It was a huge step toward moving away from the emotional mask that lingered after my recovery and obscured my potential.

For those of you who want to explore how these masks come off and how you can start living your best life, stay tuned. I’ll explore more aha moments and memories that may be hard to read at times, but my goal is to help you unravel what might be tangled in your own life.

Together, we can take these lessons that I literally walked through fire to discover and look at how they might be of value to you. We’re all at different places in our lives, but one thing remains true: Creating a life worth living is always unfinished business.