I don't know about you, but I know I've been there. That dark place where hope seems like an imaginary concept. Where you can't remember what the light looks like, and you don't even know if you believe in the light anymore. I know this place, because I have lived there. I lived there for a very long time, and even began to call it home. And even worse, I felt trapped in this home, and I began to wonder if life was really worth living. If living meant darkness and pain, I was not so sure I wanted to be alive anymore. The darkness became so suffering that I not only contemplated taking my life many times, but I also attempted to take it. Unfortunately I have had my fair share of hospital stays and psychiatric visits. But fortunately this great deal of darkness and pain, eventually allowed me to experience the light of life to an indescribably amazing degree. Once I remembered there was light, once I began to believe in hope again, after I caught my very first glimpse of truly living, I held onto it and never looked back. Hope is real. And if you keep hope alive my friends, it will keep you alive.

It breaks my heart to know that you may be in this place of darkness, and fear, and pain... but I want you to know that you are not alone. And not only are you not alone, but there IS a way out of the cage where you live. This pain, this suffering, does not have to be your life. It will not be your life, because you are stronger than all of this. You may feel weak, but darling fighting this battle is the most courageous battle anyone can fight, and it takes a great deal of strength that you possess. To fight the good fight is hard, oh my gosh, it's so hard. But I promise you, it is oh so worth it. Keep fighting the good fight.

There are an unfathomable amount of reasons to stay alive. I can see them now. But I know at times in my life it was hard to come up with a single reason to get out of bed in the morning, a single reason to stay alive. So here are 20 of my favorite reasons, why you should.... no why you NEED, to stay alive.

1. Your smile.

It may not mean a lot to you. But your smile means the world to someone else. It's pretty crazy actually just how big of an impact your beautiful smile has on this world. Your smile brightens this world. You should see the way the room lights up every time you smile, especially with that sparkle in your eye. Your smile alone makes this world a brighter place to be in. It is so warm, so inviting, so full of comfort. Your smile is someone's favorite smile. It would be a painful world to live in without your smile around. A world I don't even want to imagine. Smile beautiful, we need your beautiful smile.

2. Music

So are you the rock n' roll type, or maybe more alternative? Pop punk? Country? Christian? Maybe Christmas music? Or oooooh, how about Disney music? There are so many options. There are so many beautiful sounds to be heard. So many concerts you have yet to go to. Too many musicians you have yet to fangirl (or fanboy) over. But most importantly, there is music in your beating heart. In every breath you take. Your living self makes a beautiful melody. You are music, and you are my favorite song. Please keep the music playing.

3. You are LOVED.

You hear me? Listen to me. Not the voices of your demons in your head. They are liars. They tell you you aren't loved. They tell you you're worthless. That this world would be better without you, because everyone hates you anyways. Excuse me but that is all utter bullshit. The truth is, you are loved beyond measure. You are loved by your friends, your family, your pets, your God. Feel like you have none of those things? Well guess what, you're still so loved. Because I, yes I, a complete stranger, love you dearly. You are loved. Loved, loved, loved. You might not believe me. But riddle me this, what do I have to gain by lying to you about loving you? Absolutely nothing. In fact, love is a very powerful word and I do not throw that around loosely. But that's how much you mean to even a complete stranger, you are so worth loving. Imagine just for a second, if a stranger could love you so much, just how much you mean to those who know you better. Crazy right? You are an incredibly loved individual. I promise you.

4. Ice cream.

You can't tell me you don't love ice cream. Okay, okay you can... but if so, insert your favorite food here. Mine just happens to be ice cream so I may be a little bias. THERE ARE SO MANY FLAVORS. Have you tried them all? What's your favorite? Don't you love the joy and happy memories that come flooding in with a bite of your favorite treat? Think of all the ice cream dates you have yet to share, and all the flavors you have yet to try. You cannot go yet, theres too much just in the little things in life that you need to experience. I HIGHLY recommend Cold Stone's birthday batter flavored ice cream with sprinkles on top. You have to try it. Get up, right now, go. Here is a reason to get out of bed today, you must try this crazy writers favorite ice cream.

5. You are worthy.

You are worthy. You deserve to be here. You deserve to be on this earth. And you deserve to truly live, not just survive. You are worth so much more than you even realize. If you could just see yourself through my eyes for one second, you would know exactly what i'm talking about. You're just so gosh damn special. You are worth every beautiful moment life has to offer. You are so worth loving. And you are so worth living. Keep living little warrior, this fight is worth it, and so are YOU.

6. A job you love.

Do you have a dream job? Yes? Maybe not yet? Either way, you have a passion and a calling. There is a job out there just perfect for you. If you haven't found your passion yet, keep searching. If you have, GO FOR IT. Do not let fear hold you back. Bear hug your dreams and never let go. Do not settle for mediocrity, you can and you WILL end up spending your life's work doing something you absolutely love.

7. Puppies (or maybe hairless cats?)

Insert your favorite little creature here. Ever spent three hours googling pictures of hairless cats in sweaters? Asking for a friend.... anyways, the point here is there are too many cute little critters out there who need you and your love. Ever held a golden retriever puppy in your arms? Pure joy. Ten out of ten would recommend. Ever looked a husky straight in the eye? Ever played fetch with a shitzu? These are things you NEED to do. There is no shame in dreaming of being a crazy cat or dog lady or man someday. NO SHAME. Animals are pure joy. And hey if you're reading this and you hate animals, maybe try plants? A stuffed animal? Heck, get yourself a pet rock. Whatever floats your goat. (HA HA get it - goat)

8. Having a family.

Maybe they aren't biological. Maybe they are. Maybe you don't even feel close enough to call anyone family right now. But your family, your people, are out there. Your family, past, present, future, needs you. They're searching for you. And they are waiting to envelope you with love. You have your people, or you'll find your people, but either way, they're out there and they desperately need you. Maybe you dream of having a big family someday, maybe a small one, maybe you already have one. No matter what though, your family would be incomplete without you, so you have to stick around.

9. The storm will pass.

I know it might seem like it's going to rain forever. Like the skies are permanently darkened, and the lighting is about to strike you at any moment. But the thing about storms is, no matter how dark and scary they get, they don't last forever. Yes, sometimes it gets worse before it gets better. But it always, always gets better. Keep holding on. The sunshine is right around the corner. Don't forget the sunshine, because the sunshine hasn't forgotten you.

10. Fuzzy socks.

Do you have a pair? Or ten? If not.... treat yo' self and go get you some fuzzy socks. You do not know the feeling of pure bliss until your feet have experienced the complete warmth and softness of fuzzy socks. I know, they are a little pricy. But they are so worth it. And you are so worth having a pair of these delightful feet snuggies. Don't have the money? Ask Santa! On the naughty list? Hit me up I know a sock dealer who sells cheap fuzzy socks. AKA, Walgreens has them for like a dollar. I know something as simple as fuzzy socks seems like a silly reason get out of bed in the morning, but sometimes it is the silly little things that we have to rely on. Sometimes it's the big things in life. But the fact of the matter is there is always something to look forward to, there is always something that will put that gorgeous smile we love so much back on your face. Even if it's simply a pair of fuzzy socks.

11. College.

For those of you who aren't of college age yet, this is for you. Or maybe you just never went to college or haven't yet. Perhaps you are in college right now. Regardless, this is still for you. College is a unique experience different from anything else in this life. It is a time where you can be completely lost, and yet feel more like yourself than you ever have. It's a breath of fresh air beyond high school. It is a place to explore, an opportunity to learn and grow. A time when things can get better. Now it's not rainbows and butterflies all the time. But it is beautiful if you open your eyes to all the beauty it has to offer. It's never too late to go to college. It's never to late to dream of college. And it's never too late to make college into the experience you want it to be. It's a time for you to be you, even if you don't know who you is yet.

12. Traveling.

Oh the places you have yet to go. There is so much of this world you have yet to see. The world is waiting for you to go out and leave your mark on it. Because every inch of this earth, is better after knowing you. There is so much beauty in this world. Get up and go see it. Traveling doesn't have to be across the country. Take it one step at a time. Go for a walk, go down a street you never visit. Take in the scenery. How does this new place smell? How does it feel? What does it look like? You are now a piece of this place. You have left your mark on it, and the world is forever better with your mark on it.

13. Your laugh is contagious.

Hear that sweet sound? That's you. Your laugh... it's music to our ears. And hear what follows? The laughter of many others. You laugh, we laugh. Your laugh has the power to bring joy to others. That my friend, is a superpower. Simply by being you, and letting out that little giggle, you make others days. Sometimes your laugh makes us laugh so hard that our stomach aches. These are the things to remember on the bad days. The belly aching laughs, the ones you feel, and the ones you have the power to create.

14. Falling in love.

With your soul mate, your best friend, or perhaps even yourself. Love is magical. Absolutely breathtaking. It is the most powerful thing this world has to offer. And falling head over heals into it is the most amazing experience. If you pay close attention you'll see it's something that happens everyday. For me, I fall in love with myself a little each day. And then someday I hope to fall in love with my soul mate. But until then, I am content with falling in love with every new little thing I discover. Free falling into love is one of the scariest, yet most remarkable experiences. I dare you to take a leap of faith, and just fall. Because there is so much love that will catch you. What are you going to fall in love with today?

15. Christmas morning.

Or whatever holiday you celebrate and love the most. For me, it's Christmas. That feeling of waking up to presents, love, laughter, and family. The warmth that comes over the room when a simple gift to a loved one brings them to tears. The taste of the hot chocolate. The left over cookies from Santa's visit. The pure joy in your nephews eyes when he unwraps the new toy he's been wanting so badly. The feeling of being completely content. The soft pajamas, the cozy slippers, the bed head. But most important the love. The overwhelming love of celebrating something you believe in wholeheartedly with those who mean most.

16. This world needs the gifts that only you can bring.

Only you. Yes you. Only you can bring these gifts to this world. You possess so many beautiful talents that are unique to you. There is and only ever will be ONE you in the entire existence of the universe, and that makes you pretty damn special if you ask me. We need you, you yourself are a gift of the most precious kind.

17. We have hope.

We can lose everything. We can be stripped of all we love and everything we've ever identified with. But there is one little thing, that can never be taken from us. And that is hope. Hope is undying, never failing. Hope is here. Hope is real. And hope is yours. We have hope. Remeber that. Don't forget about hope.

18. Nothing would be the same without you.

NOTHING. Not a single thing in this world, would be the same if you were not here. The lives of those who love you would be drastically altered for the worst if you were not here. The lives of the people you have yet to meet, would be drastically altered. The impact you have on this world is far more vast than you can ever imagine. You have a specific purpose in this world and without you here to fulfill it, nothing, and I mean nothing would ever be the same.

19. This is all for a reason.

I know it sounds cliche. And I know what you are going through hurts like hell. But it's not all for nothing, no matter how much it might feel so. One day you're going to look back at this and you are going to smile as tears fill your eyes, because what once made so little sense now is complete with perfect meaning. You'll see that you had to go through these storms in order to fully enjoy the sunshine. You had to feel the pain in order to truly experience happiness. And you had to lose yourself, to realize that you were never meant to take the easy route in the first place. This is going to make sense someday. Right now that means very little, when the pain you feel is so very great. But take my word for it, your heart will heal, your mind will clear, and the reason for all of this will reveal.

20. This world wouldn't shine as bright without you.

You are a light. You are a light even in a dark world, even on the darkest of nights. The glimmer of your soul is a light that only you possess. Without your light, this world would darken. Your light matters that much, your light is that bright, that without YOU the world would be forever darker. I know this battle is long, it's hard. I know you feel like giving up, but your light was meant to shine. It's not time for your light to go out yet. You still have so much brightness to bring to this world. We need your light. We need YOU. Just keep shining love, even on your dimmest days, we see your light and we need it.