We rise by lifting the people around us

This year marks the ten-year celebration of me graduating high school. While the time has certainly passed, the memories that most linger are not of all the homework and tests that were taken, but of the people who at one point made up my entire world.

Growing up, and even still now, I have the privilege of being a twin to the most authentic and unique individual I have ever met. While my years in high school were spent socializing and smiling, his days were greeted with dread and despair. He woke up every morning praying to become invisible.

In my personal crusade to keep my brother protected, I found myself unintentionally becoming the voice for the voiceless. One rainy day at recess in the eighth grade, I came across a group of boys who were picking on another one of our classmates. Without hesitation, I found myself steering them away from him. From that point forward, we were friends.

For five years, he waited at my locker for me and walked me to my first class. As high school came to an end, he handed me a piece of folded paper, which held the words of his last English Composition Essay titled, “My hero”. Of all the people in the world, fictional included, he chose to write about me. For two pages he recalled the times I stood up for him, how I was there for him and how I made him look forward to something each and every day. He said I saved him, but in all reality, it was he who saved me.

So many of us hope to change the world, to make a difference and to leave this place better than how we found it. We seek to uncover the secret of living a fulfilling life and to know that out of the billions of people that exist, somehow our lives matter. But the truth is we rise by lifting up the people around us.

To me, this life is about sharing love and community and remembering that we are all in this together. I may not be where I thought I would be when I graduated high school and there are days when I fall asleep silently wondering if I will ever find my purpose, but if at the end of the day, I have that letter and the memories it holds and I know I made a difference in someone else’s life and that’s all I can ask for. – Brittany

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