You Are Imperfect, You are Enough
A year ago today, my friend Adam died alone in his college dorm room.
He was 19 years old.
I cried for hours the day I heard news.
I was in disbelief.
How? Why? What happened?
All these questions went through my mind.
My mind was rejecting the truth.
It was painful to think about him being gone… never seeing him again, never getting a giant bear hug again, never hearing his wisdom again.
Adam was one of the most remarkable people I’d ever met.
He was passionate and kind. He was talented, so very handsome. he had been SO full of life.
He was like a brother to me and his family had become like a surrogate family to me while I was living in the United States.
So I felt the pain for myself for his loss, but also for each of his family members that I knew and loved.
And I mourned the loss of who he was in the the world.
Larger Than Life
Adam was over 6 feet tall, he really represented the phrase “larger than life.”
He had been head of the student body at a high school that he’d just moved to a year earlier.
He was passionate. Full of life. Kind. Caring. Talented. Not to mention handsome, so so handsome.
He was the head of the student body at a high school that he’d just move to a year before.
He had been prom king and the lead of the school musical.
He had SO much going for him and he’d just graduated.
The world was ahead of him.
But now he was gone…
It took months for my brain to accept that he was gone.
I had sent him an early birthday card, to tell him how proud I was of him.
Sadly, he didn’t make his 20th birthday.
See, Adam had overcome so many challenges, including being severely burned as a child, which led to an addiction to pain medication, and then harder drugs in his teens.
He checked himself into rehab in the summer of 2013.
I still remember sending him an early birthday card with a cool looking snapshot of babies with headbands playing the guitar, bass, and drums – Adam was an amazing drummer and musician.
As I sit at my desk and write this, I can vividly recall writing in that birthday card to Adam, not knowing it would be my last message to him.
I don’t remember everything I said, but I told him I loved him and I was so proud of time.
Sadly, not long after Adam came out of rehab, one lonely night, just days before his 20th birthday in September 2013, Adam died of an accidental overdose.
Hold On, Love Is On the Way
It was a difficult period following the news of his death.
Even though I hadn’t seen Adam for a year since l’d moved back to South Africa, after 9 years in the US, I deeply felt his loss.
I spoke with him family, the family who had for a time been like my own, and we were only able to share a few words, it was too painful.
But a few weeks after the funeral, I was able to have a long talk with his older brother.
He had shared that a lot of Adam’s relapses were as a result of his struggle with not being perfect, and he’d get caught in a vicious cycle of using, feeling shame, and then using more.
The pressure and expectations of others, and himself (because he was so talented and gifted) led him to use more drugs, when he didn’t feel like he was enough.
Thankfully, around the time of this heartbreak I came across an online course by Brene Brown and Oprah based on her book, “The Gifts of Imperfection.”
And in the course, Brene challenged all of us in one of the lessons to write in permanent marker “I am Imperfect, I am Enough“ on our hands and then to take a picture of ourselves and put it on our journal and to share it online if we wanted too.
Until then, I hadn’t done it.
I had REALLY been resisting writing on my hand with a permanent marker, but after speaking with Adam’s brother, I was inspired with an idea.
I knew there was a larger message for myself, and for others.
So, I took the picture below, and posted it in a Facebook group I was a part of.
I then invited (dared) my friends to do the same.
Within days I surprisingly, had over 3 dozen replies! The pictures came streaming in and I knew I needed to share this message.
I was also in the process of re-recording one of my songs HOLD ON** that I had changed some of the lyrics to after Adam died.
Adam was a musician and a drummer, and I felt like this would be a good tribute to him.
But then, I decided to take it further and collect ALL the pictures my friends posted of themselves acknowledging that they were ENOUGH, and put them together in a special video with the song.
A message of hope:
I hope that, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, that you will know RIGHT NOW, that no matter what, “You are enough” and that sometimes, even when things feel really bad, or like there is no hope, that you just need to HOLD ON… love is on the way!
I really hope this story of Adam’s life and how he impacted mine, might also impact yours.
And may we all be a little kinder and more loving to each other and themselves everyday!
Click below to download your free copy of the song HOLD ON!
To watch & download, click here.
**The song HOLD ON was originally inspired by Stephanie Nielsen (of the NieNieDialogues blog) who almost died after a terrible plane crash in 2008 where 80% of her body was burned.
She was in a coma for 3 months and when her kids saw her again, they didn’t recognize her.
I was in college at the time and I was really impacted by her story, and began to follow her blog.
If you haven’t heard of Stephanie or her book Heaven on Earth, definitely check it out.