Baylor Graduate Student Says Our Stories Are Our Strongest Weapon

Baylor Graduate Student Says Our Stories Are Our Strongest Weapon

Lauren Bagwell fought her eating disorder with a poem.
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Her story is quickly circulating the web. She's the sorority girl whose TEDTalk about eating disorders is "beyond phenomenal," and according to Total Sorority Move, she's the true representation of a Greek woman.

Lauren Bagwell, affectionately referred to as "Bags," received her undergraduate degree in Social Studies Secondary Education from Baylor University in May, where she was a member of Chi Omega Sorority. She is currently a graduate student at Baylor in the Masters program for Curriculum and Instruction, and when she's not studying, playing soccer, or doing some ridiculous adventure like bungee jumping over a waterfall, she's writing poems. What people don't know about Lauren, is that she's been inspiring those around her for as long as I have known her, which is quite a while considering she's my cousin.

Image courtesy of Power of One Entertainment.

Lauren started writing and speaking poetry at the age of 15, and it has since grown to become one her favorite ways of expressing herself. But it's not as easy as you think. The poem she reads in her talk titled "Let's Flip the Golden Rule" at TEDxSMU was extremely difficult for her. It was vulnerable. It was deep.

"Often times I would hide behind the poem, but with every rough draft I grew a little stronger," Lauren recalls about her process of writing and sharing this poem. "Every time I shared it, the shame would disappear a little bit more."

Lauren went on to explain the power of storytelling. Even though sharing her story was difficult, it came with more benefits than anything else.

"Owning your story does not make you weak, it makes you stronger. And every time I share my poem I get a little stronger too. Poetry has given me an outlet to express my story in a way that others can relate to, and words cannot describe how grateful I am for that."

In this specific poem, Lauren talks about her battle with binge eating, which is an eating disorder that rarely gets talked about. She explained to me that it's negligence is a result of the stigma society has placed on it. Society has made it seem as if binge eating is more shameful, embarrassing, and unworthy of forgiveness than other eating disorders.

"Obviously, I cant speak for every one who has struggled with binge eating, but as far as my story goes, I was embarrassed. I tried to hide it. I thought I was alone and no one would understand what I was going through. That's why I wanted to share my poem. Even if just one person realizes that they are not alone, then it is all worth it."

As Lauren has made evident, she believes in the power of spoken word and the sharing of stories. She also has the desire to use her story and her words to change the world.

"When I talk about my disorder, it's as if the monster loses power," Lauren tells me as I ask about her passion for spoken word. "It was difficult, but each time I said it, I was in some way liberated."

Lauren's TEDTalk was done at an event held at Southern Methodist University in her hometown of Dallas, Tex. for a TEDxKids event. I asked Lauren why she thought this was an important age to address a problem like this with. Her answer was perfect: "These are my people!"

Although I was only able to read this response, I can easily imagine the excitement and loudness with which Lauren would express a statement like this. Her smile would be huge, and her blue eyes would be sparkling with passion.

"These kids are the world changers we've been waiting for. They are at such a critical age where nothing makes sense and insecurities are almost unavoidable. For me, I was in middle school when my eating disorder developed. As a result, I want these kids to know what I wish I would have known as a seventh grader."

So what does she want them to know?

"We were not meant to live in shame or in chains. There is freedom in sharing your story, even if it's just with one person. Someone as unique as you is worth fighting for."

If you haven't checked out Lauren's talk yet, stop reading this, scroll down, watch her video, and be inspired.

I've always looked up to Lauren, and I don't think that's something that will ever change. At one point in time, that meant matching Fourth of July dresses and unicorn tattoos, but today it means dreaming of inspiring people like she does.

We might not all be as well-spoken and bold as Lauren Bagwell, but we all have a story. So let's share them. Let's change the world one story, one poem, or one article at a time.

Check out Lauren's TEDTalk video, below!



Cover Image Credit: TEDx Talks

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To The Friends I Won't Talk To After High School

I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.
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Hey,

So, for the last four years I’ve seen you almost everyday. I’ve learned about your annoying little brother, your dogs and your crazy weekend stories. I’ve seen you rock the awful freshman year fashion, date, attend homecoming, study for AP tests, and get accepted into college.

Thank you for asking me about my day, filling me in on your boy drama and giving me the World History homework. Thank you for complimenting my outfits, laughing at me presenting in class and listening to me complain about my parents. Thank you for sending me your Quizlets and being excited for my accomplishments- every single one of them. I appreciate it all because I know that soon I won’t really see you again. And that makes me sad. I’ll no longer see your face every Monday morning, wave hello to you in the hallways or eat lunch with you ever again. We won't live in the same city and sooner or later you might even forget my name.

We didn’t hang out after school but none the less you impacted me in a huge way. You supported my passions, stood up for me and made me laugh. You gave me advice on life the way you saw it and you didn’t have to but you did. I think maybe in just the smallest way, you influenced me. You made me believe that there’s lots of good people in this world that are nice just because they can be. You were real with me and that's all I can really ask for. We were never in the same friend group or got together on the weekends but you were still a good friend to me. You saw me grow up before your eyes and watched me walk into class late with Starbucks every day. I think people like you don’t get enough credit because I might not talk to you after high school but you are still so important to me. So thanks.

With that said, I truly hope that our paths cross one day in the future. You can tell me about how your brothers doing or how you regret the college you picked. Or maybe one day I’ll see you in the grocery store with a ring on your finger and I’ll be so happy you finally got what you deserved so many guys ago.

And if we ever do cross paths, I sincerely hope you became everything you wanted to be. I hope you traveled to Italy, got your dream job and found the love of your life. I hope you have beautiful children and a fluffy dog named Charlie. I hope you found success in love before wealth and I hope you depended on yourself for happiness before anything else. I hope you visited your mom in college and I hope you hugged your little sister every chance you got. She’s in high school now and you always tell her how that was the time of your life. I sincerely hope, every great quality I saw in you, was imprinted on the world.

And hey, maybe I’ll see you at the reunion and maybe just maybe you’ll remember my face. If so, I’d like to catch up, coffee?

Sincerely,

Me

Cover Image Credit: High school Musical

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Poetry On The Odyssey: It's a Girl

An ode to the little girl raised to be insecure.

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They raise little girls to be insecure

Little girls grow to be big girls

People always ask big girls why they're so insecure

Big girls aren't quite sure

Day after day the big girl can't keep up

She's exhausted

Her soul feels worn

The big girl learns to grow hard

In a way, she's a bit stronger

People call her a bitch

Bitch

What is that?

How can she let that affect her

It's simply the only way to be her

She mourns that little girl

Hoping that one day

She'll be strong


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