I am a perfectionist. I am ridiculously hard on myself, and sometimes that takes inner critique and self-reflection to an unhealthy extreme. Lately, that has led me to lying in bed in tears each night asking myself “why?” I have been emotionally drained and exhausted by the weight of drowning in grief, feeling as if I have made no progress in the healing process and am in the same place that I was 18 months ago when Andrew had passed. I have felt as if I’ve plateaued in Crossfit and haven’t seen progress despite spending 10-12 hours in the gym each week. I have had a good handful of people walk out of my life within the last year, relationships that I had counted on for support as I stumbled and struggled through daily life. All of my writings have felt less than mediocre and not worth reading, leaving me constantly second-guessing myself and riddled with self-doubt.  I’ve been left with asking myself “why?” every single day. Why do I keep pushing through the grief when crawling up into a ball and hiding sounds so much easier? Why do I subject myself to ripped up, bloody hands and exhaustion day after day in Crossfit? Why do I pour so much into temporary people? Why do I write? Why do I even book speaking engagements? Why do I keep going? 

Friends, I’m not going to lie, I felt like these incessant questions were driving me towards a breakdown. It wasn’t until I sat down to clearly define my “whys” that I started to feel a sense of clarity. Not only did finding my “why” redefine my sense of purpose and refocus my priorities, it also helped me weed out what really didn’t matter. If I couldn’t come up with a concrete answer to why I was working so hard at something or why I felt like the struggles were worth it, it clearly was taking up headspace and adding unnecessary stress to an already stressful life. 

The biggest why I needed to define was the one behind this dream of Samantha Smith Speaks. I needed to define it for myself, but I also felt as if I needed to be able to define it for you guys. From day one, anyone following me and Andrew’s journey knew we handled it with complete and total honesty. When it sucked, we said it sucked. As I’ve struggled through grief, I’ve told you all when I’m having a particularly hard time. I’ve shared all the highs and have never shied away from the lows. Being an authentic human being is so important to me and you all knowing my heart is essential to living out this dream. 

I genuinely love people. I genuinely want the very best for everyone. I genuinely want life to be beautiful for everybody. You can call me cheesy and you can call me corny, but it’s just how I’m wired. My heart always has been and always will be FOR other people and them living their most fulfilling life. This hellish journey of the past few years watching my late husband battle and succumb to cancer is one that I would never wish upon anyone else. But Andrew and I always maintained that we learned some of the most valuable life lessons by walking through this. We would never have chosen the way in which we learned these, but our lives and our perspectives were left so much more full and hopeful because of the hard journey our lives became. We also always maintained that we would happily walk through this battle publicly even if it only helped one single person. That is still very much how I feel. I’ll walk through my battles and struggles publicly if that means I can sit across from someone with a deeper sense of empathy and am able to lighten the load of heaviness from their shoulders. I’ll continue to heal and refine myself publicly if that means I can help someone grow through what I have learned and am continuing to learn every day. Samantha Smith Speaks exists because the weight of my “why” carries too much impact to simply be life lessons that I selfishly keep to myself. I don’t have everything figured out in life, but I’ve seen the growth that individuals and companies have had because of breakthroughs we were able to tap into together. I’ve seen people be able to shift their perspective to a more hopeful outlook while walking through adversity and trials. I’ve seen young women become more confident and certain in who they are and why that matters so damn much. It humbles me to the core every time I get to be a part of life change, and it also reminds me of why this dream is so important. 

I have been entrusted with a heavy journey full of life lessons. I have been enlightened at the value that those lessons can add to the lives of others. I have been empowered to empower others. I can’t do nothing with not only our story, but who I’ve become because of it. I can’t leave this earth someday with anything but empty hands and saying, “I helped and loved on as many people as I possibly could.” 

That is my heart. That’s why I keep pushing. That is my “why.”