Contributed by Abby Lampley
On one evening in 2015, MY House’s executive director, Michelle Overstreet, called me and a few other clients into her office and told us that we were going to be MY House’s next leaders. In response, I looked her in the eyes and said that I was not a leader, she was wrong about me and to find somebody else. Then, I walked out of her office.
I was 19 years old at that time. Despite having a history of leadership roles as a teenager, I had the mentality that what I said did not matter and that nobody was going to seriously listen to someone who had half of her brain removed as a child. Little did I know, Michelle saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.
I am 22 years old now. I’m not sure when it happened, but I have become a leader in my local community. I am part of the staff at MY House now, both as the administrative assistant and as an advisory member of the board of directors. I am also a member of the Wasilla Noon Rotary Club because I believe in giving back to my community. On an international level, I am involved with the Brain Recovery Project and the Hemispherectomy Foundation as a role model and peer to those who have undergone the same type of brain surgery that I had done.
One of the biggest things that I have learned since that evening in 2015 is that sharing my story is important. There is power and healing in being able to talk about what I have been through and being able to say and believe that my past does not define my future.
Spreading this message is one of my favorite things to do at MY House. MY House’s youth all have a past. Taking the time to teach these youth that their voices matter and empowering them to use their stories to impact others and heal is so powerful. By finding their voice and learning to use it, they move on from our program with confidence in themselves and what they have been through.
Everybody has a story that is their life. Some are good; some are very traumatic. But, there is power and healing that comes when you find the strength to talk about what you have been through. Verbally voicing your experiences can help you move forward, and in the process, your experiences can help someone else who may be struggling.
Never underestimate the power that is in you.