This past week, I had the pleasure and amazing opportunity of being surrounded by incredibly selfless and loving people at a conference put on by the organization COVA (Colorado Organization for Victim Assistance). Everything I learned was incredibly selfless and loving things about being a victim advocate, helping victims of crime and crime survivors through this rough part of their life. I know what I am writing may sound heartbreaking and maybe even depressing, but that is not why I am telling you this. I am writing about something I learned at this conference and had no idea I was about to take this lesson on in the first place.

There are a lot of things out of our control. Whether it is something as big as the crimes that are committed against us, or something as minimal as an exam grade we were not expecting and not happy with. Some things are out of our possession and control by the time they hit us. I know myself and I know that those are the things that worry me the most, but I know I am not alone on this. We worry so much that we leave behind all the other things and even the things that make us the most happy. I believe our “reasoning” for worrying is because of the judgement that we may face for the things that happen to us throughout our lives. Because what is worse than something actually happening to you? It is being judged for the certain something. My personal experience is that there is nothing more demanding than one’s own mind. And in one’s own mind, you can be so hard, harsh and mean to yourself. Calling yourself names and saying, “well you could have changed that and then you wouldn’t have to go through this”. All I have to say to that is: shut the hell up. Your mind may be your greatest weapon, but it can also be your worst enemy. Telling yourself that the reason these things have happened to you is because of you and only you is not going to help you. It is only going to hurt you. Beating yourself up over something you cannot control is a waste of your time and energy. Taking yourself so seriously that you never find a smile or laugh in your world satisfying is traumatizing. I remember right after my victimization, I struggled to laugh and I struggled to make someone else laugh for a while afterwards as well. It was traumatizing. But now looking back, I wish I could tell myself and mind, “shut up and go make yourself feel better. It is out of your control, so go and leave it behind”. I was so worried about the judgement I was about to face, so I sat there and thought nothing would ever get me through this. But life is not that serious. It is not supposed to be. Dusting yourself off and making yourself feel better is how people learn and how people grow. If you never grow, you never become a better person, you never see the beauty in what the world has in store for us.

That COVA conference taught more about being a victim and being an advocate for victims than I can ever describe, but one thing that I will never forget is that taking yourself seriously sets you back and makes you a victim forever. Instead, we have to brush ourselves off, grieve and move forward, because that is what life is about.