I was very excited to receive the Never Surrender single since it’s one of my favorite designs, but after seeing what the card said, I started to get emotional. While what it says is simple, I also consider the message to be powerful, as it very much resonates with me, and I’m sure it would resonate with others. For as long as I can remember, life always felt very dark. Growing up was hard considering that my parents were in a loveless marriage, full of anger, and often led to them taking out their anger on me. If I ever cried, I would never be comforted or at the very least be asked “what’s wrong?”, instead I would be scolded, as they were emotionally unavailable and lacked empathy. And then whenever I cried around my extended family, they would just make fun of me and laugh. As a result, whenever I felt like crying, I would go to the bathroom and cry there since it was the only room at the house that had a lock. Eventually as a kid, I couldn’t really cry anymore, and I decided to tell my mom I was depressed, and she reacted in a very cold manner towards me by invalidating my feelings because I was so young, and she would say if anyone was depressed, it would be her. As I grew older, things would get progressively worse, as more of my classmates would target me and make fun of me, and unfortunately some teachers would join in. 8th grade was the point I started to act out and did things I wasn’t proud of, solely for the sake of defending myself. I was having very dark thoughts and just wanted everything that was happening to stop more than ever. During this period, I had repressed a lot of anger and sadness. I couldn’t focus on my grades, as I spent most of that school year distracted by everything that was happening at home and school. I started having this mentality of just wanting to get through the day, nothing else. Eventually a nun suggested to my mom that I should speak to a school counselor because I seemed troubled to her, which is something I’m very grateful for. My mom even noticed how speaking to a counselor made a difference in my life since I hadn’t come home from school with a smile on my face for such a long time. While the dark times did not come to a full stop, having seen that counselor gave me a brief moment of happiness because for once in my life, I felt that I was heard, I felt like my feelings were validated, and I felt like someone cared about me. It was the one safe space I had, in which I would not be judged for crying, and could openly talk about how hurt I felt, and more. Since my grades suffered so much, I did not get to graduate with my classmates, but life started to gradually get better, as I just need the extra push to move forward. Looking back at everything now, I sometimes still cry about how painful my childhood was, not because I want to carry any type baggage or grudge towards anyone, but more like a memento that reminds me of what made me into the person that I am and what I value. While being raised by parents that consider crying as something that is weak, I consider it to be something that makes a person strong because I think there shouldn’t be any fear of appearing vulnerable. We are all human and need to let go sometimes. Other than that, my counselor inspired me to give back to the world in a positive way. Regardless of what I end up doing in the future, as long as I am able to help someone the way she has helped me, it would be well worth it because that meant so much to me. Now that it has been over a decade, my headspace is a lot more different than it used to be. As I now get to experience the simple things that make life beautiful, such as going to concerts, having friends that support me and travel with me, going out to try out new food and cocktails with my boyfriend, and having a great relationship with my siblings. I would have never experienced any of those memorable moments if I had given up. I am so glad I managed get past all of my hardships so far, and I’m sure I will get past the hardships that are yet to come, especially now that I have a tangible reminder to never surrender.