Learning to Thrive

By a BTSADV Scholarship Winner

I am a single mother, and a survivor of domestic violence. A couple years ago, I escaped an extremely abusive relationship where the situation had become so bad that three times, it was almost fatal to me. I am blessed to be alive and perhaps have more lives than a cat.  

In the process of fleeing this relationship, I left behind my home, my belongings, much of my dignity, and I was in danger to the point I had no choice but to move into a domestic violence shelter. With the support and services of an incredible local domestic violence organization, I am still safe today.  

During the safe months that I lived in the safe house, two advisers from our local community college presented educational opportunities to the residents. They spoke about incredible things I was previously unaware of; the many degree programs offered, financial aid, FAFSA, scholarships, and Pell grants. That very same week I applied  and was accepted into the college.

Domestic violence has not only impacted my life, but also my education. I have learned the difference between surviving and thriving. Surviving is defined as:  continuing to live or exist, in spite of danger, hardship, accident, or ordeal. Well…to keep living…to still be existing…that is a great thing!  Even after life throws terrible things at us–wow–even better! Surviving is not to be taken lightly, it is something to be proud of.

Yet, there is something even better, and that is thriving.  Sometimes, on life’s journey, we can get stuck in survival mode, sort of just existing. I am learning how to go beyond just surviving and existing, and how to thrive.   

Thrive means to flourish and prosper. I’d like to share with you an inspiring acronym I created from the letter in the word T-H-R-I-V-E.  Inside of this little six letter word is a much bigger and more valuable lesson.  

T for Teachable:  If you want to thrive, you need to be teachable, ready and willing to learn.  Appreciate knowledge.

H for Hopeful:  Never give up hope. Even when things seem hopeless, there is always a reason to hold on tightly to hope. 

R for Resourceful:  Our country is full of incredible resources, including many kind, helpful people who will encourage, guide, and support us along our journey.  It is rare that things get handed to us easily. We must search for clever ways to overcome difficulties. 

I for Inspiring:  Inspiration is infectious. When we are inspired by someone, we need to spread that by being an inspiration to others!  

V for Victorious:  Victory can be hidden among our failures. When we look for it as if it is hidden treasure, we will find it in the most unlikely of places. We can be victorious in how we learn from our failures.  If we fall, we get back up!  

E if for Educated:  Most of us know that famous phrase, “knowledge is power”.  There is a lifetime of learning awaiting those who will grab hold of it.  A college education is powerful, life applicable and valuable for our futures.  Seize knowledge! 

Striving to thrive instead of just survive has made a world of difference in my life, and positively impacted my desire and achievements in higher education. It is why I am where I am today, having just graduated Summa Cum Laude with dual honors degrees from college, with a 3.94 and 4.0 cumulative GPA, and am now transferring into a Bachelor’s of Science program.  I am thriving – when just years ago I was surviving, but homeless and living in hiding in a domestic violence safe house.  

Winston Churchill once wisely said, “The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity.  The optimist sees opportunity in every difficulty.” I am excited for the opportunities ahead of me, even when I must traverse through difficulties to achieve them.  

If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, there is help. You can visit the Break the Silence Against Domestic Violence website at www.breakthesilencedv.org or chat with one of our helpline advocates at 855-287-1777.

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