I’m Still Here

Through it all, you’re still here.

Many years ago, I saw an interview on TV that changed my life.

I wish that I had more details, but to make a long story short, a woman who had been through unspeakable horrors (rape, repeated abuse, false imprisonment, etc.) was being interviewed about her horrific ordeal.

I was actually flipping through the channels trying to find the Lakers game, but something about that woman’s inner strength, poise, and unshakable positive energy caused my thumb to freeze and stop pressing the “Channel Up” button as I listened to her voice.

After watching about 5 minutes of the interview, the interviewer asked the woman a difficult question with sincere curiosity:

“How it is possible for you to move on with your life after going through the hell that you went through?”

Without even the slightest pause, the woman looked directly at the interviewer and responded with the poise and grace that made her strength impossible to forget. Her response to that question has stuck with me ever since I saw the interview years ago:

“Because I’m still here.”

Broken, Not Beaten

At any given moment, you have the power to say, ‘this is not how the story is going to end.'” -Christine Mason Miller

The words of that woman were so powerful to me.

She found the strength to move on with her life because she was still here. The fact that she was still alive meant that there was still an important purpose left for her to fulfill.

In a sense, we all share an important similarity with that woman.

We don’t share the same story, but I believe that all of us have experienced a pain in our lives that was so emotionally devastating that it completely broke us.

  • There are people reading these words who have experienced the death of a child.
  • There are people reading these words who have been diagnosed with a life-threatening illness.
  • There are people reading these words who have been abused sexually, physically, or both.
  • There are people reading these words who have lost all of their money and were forced to live on the street.
  • There are people reading these words who have lost a spouse to suicide.

Those are the examples that I’m aware of, but I know that there literally hundreds of other horrors that the readers of this blog (myself included) have dealt with in their lives. And through it all, there’s one powerful truth that binds us all together:

We’re still here.

The fact that we’re still here means that we might be broken, but we’re not beaten. As impossible as this may seem to someone who is currently in the midst of dealing with unspeakable pain–it is possible to use your pain as strength.

Even though it will not be easy, we can use our experiences to help others who share the same pain as we do. We can use our experiences to protect and advise others from experiencing the same pain that we did. Both are the epitome of strength, and both are very possible–in fact, you might be doing both right now.

Most importantly, the fact that we’re still here means that we have the power to decide how our story is going to end.

And as long as we have that choice, that means we’re not beaten.

You’re Stronger Than You Think

I believe that every one of us has overcome something big in our lives. I mean, really big. If you’re one of those people, then I have some good news for you:

The fact that you overcame that challenge is proof that you have the strength within you to overcome other challenges that may come your way.

This is not an oversimplification, either.

The fact that you’re still here means that you successfully did it before. It also means that you can do it again, too.

Unfortunately, the average person greatly underestimates their inner strength. If you don’t believe me, then humor me for a quick minute.

Think of the biggest challenge that you have faced in your life.

Maybe you’ve beaten this particular challenge or maybe you’re still going through it right now. Either way, in order for you to still be here as a functioning member of society, I’m willing to bet that it took (or is currently taking) a great deal of inner strength in order to make it happen.

Maybe you’ve had moments where you felt like you couldn’t go on. Maybe you’ve experienced a deep despair and hopelessness that wouldn’t let you go. If so, somehow you were able to draw upon an inner strength that has kept you moving forward to this day.

This is a big deal and it’s not one that should be dismissed.

Being strong isn’t about laughing in the face of severe emotional pain, or deluding yourself into believing that it isn’t that bad. Real strength is simply getting out of bed and choosing to move forward. Even if it’s a baby step, believe me, that takes strength.

You are so much stronger than you think that you are, and the fact that you’re still here moving forward is all of the proof that you need to remind you of your strength. And as many of us already know, sometimes we don’t know how strong we can be until “being strong” is our only option.

Equally as important, the fact that you’re still here is also all of the proof that you need to remind you that you still have so much more to do in the world.

Here is the test to find out whether your mission on earth is finished: if you’re alive, it isn’t.” -Richard Bach

I wish that this wasn’t true, but no matter who you are, life will punch you in the mouth. And if it hasn’t yet, trust me it will. The unavoidable truth is that it will hurt like hell when it happens, too.

It’s very possible that you may fall to the ground in a heap, you may taste your own blood slowly filling your mouth, and you may be so broken that you’ll believe that you can’t get up.

You may not even want to get up.

Even so, while you’re on the ground, if you can find the strength to defiantly say three words (even if it’s only a whisper), then no matter what happens to you, life may temporarily break you, but it will never have the ability to defeat you:

“I’m still here.”

And even if you don’t believe it right now, that means that you’re strong.

Much stronger than you may think.

Your Turn

Have you overcome something devastating in your life? Were you able to turn your pain into something positive? Either way, don’t hesitate to jump into the comments below and make your voice heard!

28 thoughts on “I’m Still Here”

  1. Wow… I am so in touch with this blog entry.. right there with you, Shola… The woman you speak of, closely relates to some similar situations I have been through myself, and again, I have to say, reasons why your blog has continued to be so very healing for me. Yes, therapy has helped, yes, time heals.. but your blog.. it is the sprinkles.. the icing on the cupcake of life.. the cream of the crop.. so to speak! Thank you so very much for bringing bitter sweet tears to my eyes this Monday morning! She is so very right.. we are still here. For that, we should move forward, learn from life experiences.. become stronger, help others and keep on.. keeping on! God Bless.

    • Kristen, there is no better praise in the world than hearing than hearing that my words have been healing for you–that is so great to hear! Yes, no matter what, we’re still here. Like you said, that means even in the face of adversity, we have the power to move forward, learn from our experiences, and keep on keeping on…even if it’s not easy. Thanks again for calling my blog “the icing on the cupcake of life!” That completely made my day!

      • Yeah! You make every Monday morning special for me.. reading your new blog entries. Look forward to opening up my Monday email.. great way to start the work week!!

  2. So very, very true. I have been through all sorts of horrific things, but I am still here! As long as I draw breath, I will push on to be the best ‘me’ I can be!

    I find there to be great beauty in broken places. When I meet someone who has had to overcome a major obstacle, it is that challenge that has formed their personality and made them interesting.

    Have you ever met someone who has never had any real challenges in their lives? I have. Trust me, they are not very interesting. They are also very hard to relate to! (I think you covered that last week, Shola.)

    We are still here, and so we march on to continue our journeys. What a wonderful idea for today… the day of the Boston Marathon. I think there are probably many people there today who feel that way. Last year broke a lot of people, but they are still here!

    Awesome timing and awesome message today, Shola! I have some challenges ahead of me this week, and was starting today a bit stressed. You have reminded me that, if I could make it through all I have so far, then the few things I have ahead will be no challenge at all!

    Thank you dear friend!

    • Kathy, I’m so glad that you mentioned the Boston Marathon, because this blog post was a silent nod to horrific events of last year. Growing up in Massachusetts, the Boston Marathon was something that we would watch every year, and seeing the bombs go off at Boston was terrifying to watch (understatement of the year.) So many of the men and women who were severely injured in the attack have found the strength and courage to keep moving forward in the face of severe adversity, and that is such and inspiration to me. If they can find the strength to say “I’m still here”, then why can’t we do the same when we’re faced with the drama of the day? As for the challenges waiting for you this week, there’s no doubt in my mind that you’ve got this!

  3. Her words were very moving! It is encouraging when people use their experiences to grow stronger, express love and help others. Some people have gone through things and although they are “still here” they are just existing and hurting others along the way…that it is a sad reality for many as well. I am extremely thankful to those, though, that choose to LIVE and LOVE others despite their bad experiences. Thanks for sharing.

    • You’re so welcome, PhillyL! Unfortunately, that is a sad reality for some people. Just like you, I’m thankful for the ones who have found the strength to use their adversity to help others and spread love–which isn’t always the easiest thing to do. Thanks for your comment!

  4. Wow! Thank you so much for writing this amazing blog! The topics you write about in your blog, always have such impeccable timing.

    I believe with all my heart that using your pain to gain strength within yourself is possible. With the challenges, we all face in life, if we can get through them by believing in ourselves and using the strength we have within, then we can get through anything.

    I believe you have two choices when faced with life’s challenges: 1) deal with it, learn from it, and get stronger or 2) Run away from the challenge and feel sorry for yourself. I know that I have definitely felt like running away from a challenge but with time have learned that dealing with the challenge and gaining strength from it is the better choice.

    I still have so much more I want to do in this lifetime and feel that the strength I have gained through the challenges of life will get me through whatever comes my way.

    I am going to print this out because this blog is so exceptionally inspirational and of course sharing this on my Facebook page.

    • Christina, those two choices are SO true. So many times in my life I would choose Option #2 when I had to deal with a big challenge, because it was easier (or at least, I thought that it was easier.) Little did I know that there’s nothing easy about running from my problems. It’s like one of my favorite quotes says: “don’t wish that it was easier, wish that you were better.” Thanks for sharing the post Christina, it is always appreciated!

  5. So weird I came across this on my news feed and I felt like it was perfect timing as I am going through some crazy things. We had a falling out over opinions years ago but thank you for writing this. Hope all is well with you and your family and congratulations on your success.

    From the long island nerd.

    • Whoa, what a surprise–talk about a blast from the past! I’m glad that you found my blog Vickie, and most importantly, I hope that it has helped you to deal with any craziness that you’re dealing with right now. I hope all is well with you and yours!

  6. Shola,

    By comparison my challenges are minute. I am grateful I have a strong and understanding support system in my family and friends (or I would be homeless) and am embarrassed to think of all the time I’ve wasted lamenting my situation. I applaud and revere those who have experienced such atrocities and continue on to to give others’ hope and live an inspired life (which of course includes you, Shola). I am humbled.

    Such a powerful post today.


    • Kat, you are so sweet–thank you! Believe me, I’m in awe of the people who have lived through unspeakable horrors to live a positive life, and they serve as a daily inspiration to me. Whenever I think that I’m too tired to go to the gym or I can’t stomach sitting through another conference call at work, I just think of the many people who would do anything to have challenges that are as mundane as mine. I’m glad you liked the post!

  7. Wow Shola, I had to reread this post 3 times. You have brought up such a great topic. We hear so much about how to succeed, yet some of us have had to spend a great deal of time figuring how to survive, or wondering if we should even bother. “I’m still here”; a positively sublime expression. It changes the meaning of the words for me. In the past, I have thought “I’m still here”, but have held that thought with hopelessness and desperation, not knowing how to move forward. My Gramps once gave me great advice. He said (in his usual gruff way), “Well, if you’re still here, make yourself useful!” Now I understand, “I’m still here” is an empowering concept. I am here, and I can do something. (Gramps would probably say, “You could start by getting up; you’re blocking the door.”) Shola, thank you for another inspiring and memorable post!

    • Donna, aren’t those 3 words so powerful? When I heard her say those words in the interview, it honestly changed me. Saying those words is like taking a stand of defiance against the drama that’s threatening to destroy us. Your Gramps was right–if we’re still here, then we have the power to make ourselves useful (or more importantly, our lives useful.) You are so welcome, and I’m glad that you liked the post!

  8. I’m so with you on this Shola! I’ve been through a lot of really hard things in my life. Some of those things I now talk about openly. Some of those things I never talk about with anyone. What I find interesting about myself is that I never even knew I was being strong until I took the advice of a dear friend and went to therapy. When I spoke, out loud, the things that had happened along my life journey, they sounded awful. They sounded like things that would make my heart break if it were someone else telling me what happened to them Until I started really thinking about it, I thought I was just getting through it. Not so much that it was normal, but just that it was what it was (if that makes sense). But, I am still here and I now know that I am strong and that I will be okay. Thanks for a lovely post Shola.

    • Spring, isn’t that incredible? I really don’t think that we give ourselves enough credit for strong we really are. All of those things that you went through required enormous strength, and oftentimes we don’t realize our strength until we step back from the situation and look at it with fresh eyes. You are strong and you will be okay–the fact that you’re still here is all of the proof that you need, my friend 🙂

  9. Thank you for reminding me that I am stronger than I think I am. And you’re right, it does hurt like hell every time but at least I can remember how I’ve overcome the punch in the past and can do it again!

    Just the encouragement I needed …

    • You are so right Laily–getting punched in the mouth hurts like hell, but I personally know that you’ve overcome quite a few punches in the past and you’re still here! You know that I’m always here to encourage you, if you need it!

  10. Hi Shola,
    I’m a new subscriber to your wonderful, insightful writing. Thanks for sharing your experiences & lessons – it’s a great way to get going on a Monday : )
    “I’m still here.” << I will keep this mantra with me & remember to keep going. I also like your reminder to "use our experiences to help others who share the same pain as we do" It's often too easy to get wrapped up in our own pain & forget about everyone else. Transcending our troubles gives us the opportunity to help others do the same.
    Thanks Shola!

    • Hi Kim, welcome aboard! You’re right–it is so easy to get wrapped up in our own pain drama to think about anyone else. In fact, that’s how I lived a lot of my adult life before I finally woke up. It is SO possible (but unfortunately, not easy) to use our pain as strength, and the mantra “I’m still here” can be an awesome reminder of that fact. Thanks for being part of the solution!

  11. As a DV survivor, those words will forever echo in my mind. It is a choice that is made by an individual to draw strength from the bad experience or surrender in defeat and play victim. It is a concious choice to do something about your life rather than just let it be. Thank you for this post. It’s always good to be reminded how far in my journey I have come.

    • You are so welcome, Genevieve. Domestic violence is an absolutely horrific thing to endure, and I’m thankful that you’re now out of the situation and that you’ve found the strength to not let that situation leave you permanently broken. You have come so far, and I’m honored that this post has helped to remind you of your strength 🙂

  12. Thank you so much for your words. The last 5 years have been so difficult, no…HARD. I believe in strength. I believe that sometimes the vistory IS getting up when you really want to lay down and stay down. But I never thought there was a purpose in MY strength. Your message gave me a light. Thank you, Shola

    • You’re so welcome, Jaime. Believe me, you are so much stronger than you think, and each time to choose to get up instead of stay down, is an example of that strength. I’m so glad that I could provide some light!

  13. Shola,
    I love all the positive messages this website has to offer. This particular entry hits close to home because it was in an extremely trying time that I stumbled upon your site. I try to keep a positive attitude in my life, but it’s a challenge with all the negativity out there. I learned through my situation that you have one of two choices: 1. Move on with your life or 2. Don’t. I realized that it wouldn’t be easy, but the decision was pretty simple. I hope that I can be an example to others that there’s light at the end of the tunnel! It’s a breath of fresh air knowing other people love the positivity too!

    • Yep, you got it Anne–we all have two choices when faced with a big challenge: we either move on with our lives, or we don’t. Like you said, this choice isn’t an easy one, but it is simple. I’m so happy that you found the strength to move on, and please know that your strength is an example not only to your friends and family, but for all of us reading your comment too. Thanks Anne!


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Hi! I am Shola

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Over a decade ago, I was drowning in the despondency of yet another workday. My success as the top regional performer had been numbed by a culture of incessant workplace bullying. And, I’d recently made the situation worse by filing a formal complaint. In short, I was collateral damage in a company without the process or intention to address my experience.

Exhausted from the drama, with an unrecognizable version of myself at the wheel, I intentionally swerved off the interstate in an attempt to take my own life. But in that half-second, my reflexes responded, and I yanked the wheel away from disaster. As I clipped the guardrail on I 405, something changed...

I uncovered a power within myself

...a burning desire to reverse a trend that happens daily to sixty-five million people in this country alone. This catalyst has since become Go Together™ Movement - a transformational roadmap of mindset, behaviors, and tools that transform workplace cultures and drive results.

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