“What made you step into the spotlight after you lost your arm?”
I can’t tell you how often people ask me this!
Living my life so much in the public’s eye has been extremely challenging and very rewarding at the same time. My decision to enter into it all was based mostly upon my desire to use the hard parts of my story to encourage and bless others.
As a kid, my church and my parents were really focused on outreach and giving back to those around them. My parents were definitely tight on money, but they always prioritized funding my brothers’ mission trips to Mexico or buying gifts for families in need. I was raised with the mentality of “use what you have to give back to others, even if it isn’t much”.
So when I lost my arm, there was of course a TON of media around the drama of it. It’s some of the most entertaining drama out there – a 13 year old girl, a super talented surfer, loses her arm and she survives!
But then it was less than a month later that I got back in the water to surf.
That was when people really started to take notice.
Pretty soon, I was receiving letters from kids and people from all walks of life all over the world who had been through super gnarly things. There were SOO many letters that this was a little overwhelming at first. However, my story was an encouragement and an empowerment to them and I came to see the beauty in that.
I think so many of us today are trying to get back on our board in some way or another, so to say. A lot of people saw how I got back on my board and tried again, even when it was tough. That’s what really got them fired up! I had already seen so much impact in just a short little window of time – only about six months – and people were just super stoked! So as much as I wanted to hide on my little island, I decided to enter into the spotlight and I hoped that my story would be a light to others.
While I am so thankful to God for this opportunity and glad that I made the decision I did – it hasn’t been easy. I naturally prefer to be in the background and don’t love the center of attention. It was a huge learning curve for me to get used to speaking in front of so many people and just living so much of my life out in the open. I definitely struggled with a lot of insecurities in the scrutinizing beach and surf culture. Not only did I look so different from everyone else because I had one less arm, I was constantly in front of the camera in a swimsuit for thousands and thousands to see.
I would say I did a pretty good job of not letting the pressure get to me too much, but it was definitely hard growing up with it all. The things that kept me sane and were definitely surfing, getting out in the ocean and just being a kid. But there was this whole other side to my life where I was bringing hope to other people and I was so honored to be able to do that.
I’m so stoked to still be in that role still today! It has been so cool to see how God has used my life in ways I never imagined!
I’m cheering you on today to use the tough parts of your story to encourage and bless others as well! 🙂