At a tender age of 22, I was trapped in darkness after the loss of my right dominant arm due to a horrific car accident. This life-changing event uprooted everything I once knew. Many days I didn’t see a way out of burying myself under the pain. I lost my sense of purpose for living and found it excruciatingly difficult to express the raging emotions weighing me down. At first there was so much regret wondering what could be. What if I didn’t go out driving that fateful night with my friends? What then? The most painful place to be at that very moment in time was inside my mind. I felt there was nothing left of me but remnants of anger, shame, and heartbreak.

Internally I suppressed the pain and sought outside remedies to grieve my loss. Nothing could fill the void or tame my insecurities. You see, growing up in an Asian culture, it is frowned upon to be vulnerable and considered shameful to be airing out what may be perceived as our weaknesses. When I lost my sense of self and belonging, I followed a path of isolation. Isolation is a liar making us believe we are alone, and we will never be enough or complete. Externally, I felt anxious of getting stared at, whispered about, and adjusting to living a life as an amputee.

After years of floating through the motions and avoiding my emotions, I reached a turning point. I knew what I needed to do to get to a better place. It was going to be an uphill battle. I came to a crossroads of whether I continue to be bitter or to be better. I choose to be better. I could either let the pain destroy me, or I could be bold and examine this pain and face it head-on moving towards it and forward through it. We are more than what we feel. We are designed to carry the sum of it all and use it as information to create a life we want to live.

My dear friends, I believe within us burns a candle. Through life’s struggles, our candle may dim or become almost extinguished after a loss of a loved one, loss of a dream, or loss of our innocence. In times of darkness, this candle may dim, yet it could still glimmer and be harnessed with so much hope. When I finally embraced my pain and adversity, it was the friction needed to spark the flame inside of me that I never knew existed before. I believe this spark within us is meant to be discovered and shared with others.

It is the greatest gift that we could give, that I could give, to another fellow human being. It is the gift of empathy and compassion that when all feels lost, we could be found again in a new light. Whether it is sharing words of comfort, counseling or coaching, or receiving a meme that perfectly describes all the feels in one word, my passion is to help you find your spark.

Learn more about Suzan and her programs visit campuspeak.com/speaker/suzan-nguyen/