Why am I here?
That’s a good question. I will never forget when a student asked me something quite similar a couple years ago. He posed the unexpected question “what is the meaning of life?” As silence rang out over the auditorium, I remember trying to assemble my thoughts and piece an answer together.
Has anybody here ever asked themselves something similar? Like “what is my purpose?” or “who am I?”
For me, it’s because I have a story to tell. We all do actually and it’s an honor to share it with all of you, in hopes that this can help to make a difference in at least one person’s life.
Today, the world is a much different place than what I remember growing up. I used to just want to make people smile, laugh, and I believe I often tried to appreciate the simple things in life. I was pretty content with just being alive. Sure, I loved playing with my toys, riding my bike, and running around with my brothers and my friends; just like any other kid. I remember running around playing kick-the-can or staying out until the street lights came on. Growing up in a small town in Wisconsin, I would have to say things were pretty great. Early in my life, I honestly believed that I was one day going to do something big. I believed that I was going to change the world somehow. Unfortunately, I lost sight of that somewhere along the way and that fire slowly burned out.
Have you ever lost your passion before? Maybe you have in a project, a job, a relationship, or in that belief you once had in yourself. Maybe life got tough and it made you feel drained, tired, and exhausted. Maybe there have been points that you even have felt like giving up. I know I have.
Some of us go through things that seem unfair. Some of us have seen things we should have never seen. Some of us have tried to wash our sins away only to find ourselves at the bottom of a bottle night after night. Maybe something else gripped you in those difficult times and you discovered a perceived way out. Many of us aren’t really addicted to the drugs but instead we are addicted to the escape; unable to handle the circumstances that surround us. Let’s be honest, each and every one of us probably knows what it feels like to get our ass kicked in that arena of life; too tired to just want to jump back up again. The world we live in today can feel damn near impossible sometimes. I know what it feels like to feel broken. To really feel physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually broken. By age 24, as I was drowning in my own addiction, I wanted nothing more than for the pain to stop where death seemed like the only answer. Sadly, I am not the only one that has felt this way.
Take a look around and ask yourself what you see. Do you more often see a world filled with love, compassion, empathy, and human connection? Or do you more often see a world of judgment, selfishness, and hatred. Can you say “I love all my neighbors” and not just the ones you choose?
It has been said that we live in the most addicted, the most overweight, and the most disconnected place in history. Teen suicide rates are through the roof and over 40 million people are dealing with addiction today where we are losing our loved ones at an epidemic level. Families are being torn apart and our next generation is at risk. When are we going to put a stop to this?
I am here to tell you now more than ever we must unite and empower those who are struggling. Together, we must encourage each other to reach beyond our shame and the guilt that we carry. We must let everyone know that it is more than ok to ask for help. We must create an environment that when people ask for help they also receive it. We must set our differences aside and bond in our similarities; recognize that we are all human.
We must teach our young ones that our pasts do not define us and that we can choose what we become. We must give those in recovery and young people everywhere a greater voice.
We must rise together, be heard, love more, and inspire others to live in hope. We must demand change as we stand united with banded arms.
Please don’t do it for us, but instead do it for our next generation of leaders.
This is a great call to action. It’s about creating a world where everyone is treated equal and can move forward with no judgment; where men and women of all ages can feel empowered to stand up and speak out on the issues they care most about; and that our people, no matter where they come from, will no longer feel ashamed to come forward and ask for the help they need. Your actions do truly matter. Your story matters! Share your voice. I assure you that it will be heard! It will help to save someone’s life!
Anthony Alvarado, president & co-founder