I don’t like needles. I don’t like the idea of a permanent commitment. And I certainly don’t like doing things that make me nervous. So why would I choose to get a tattoo?

There has been a lot of news lately regarding the Semicolon Tattoo Project. People have shared that their tattoo is a commitment to themselves, a daily reminder that their story isn’t over. They have survived their own battles, and I commend those who are brave enough to inspire others to celebrate those victories.

At first, I thought it was a great idea. Spread the awareness around depression and suicide because getting people to talk about their experiences reduces the stigma attached to them. Share your story and have a tattoo that commemorates how far you have come. I really thought the whole idea was quite impressive.

However, I wasn’t sure it was for me. I have never publicly talked about my experience with depression before to people other than a close few. I said I was open about it, yet I never really discussed it. I didn’t think it was anyone’s business or that anyone would want to hear a sob story. I did not feel comfortable telling everyone what I’ve been through.

I had decided one day to post an inspiring message as my Facebook status. I touched briefly on the fact that depression played a part in my life the past few years. I was shocked by the amount of love and support people had to give back to me. I was overwhelmed with the generosity and kindness of people that took the time to say nice things to me. I felt like I had opened a new door, allowing people into my life in a way I had never let them before.

When my cousin saw my posts about the tattoo and asked me if I would get one with her, I knew I had to jump at the offer. I finally understood why so many people got this semicolon tattooed to their body. I began to comprehend why people shared their stories. It was liberating to not have the weight of secrets hold you back. It was fulfilling to be able to share your story and have other people resonate with what you were saying.

So yes, I still don’t like needles. And yes, the idea of a permanent commitment still scares me. But I also have gained so much more than what my fears have held me back from. I have a small print on my wrist that tells me I have let go. I have let go of feeling unworthy, and I have let go of letting depression run my life. This tattoo is so important to me because it is a symbol of my story that continues each and every day.

My story could have ended a long time ago. I could have been another tragic statistic of a teen gone too soon. But it didn’t. I am here, and my story comes with me. I used to carry around the weight of my burdens. Now I carry a semicolon because my story isn’t over.

*   *   *

After years of carrying the burden of my own struggles, I am at the point where I am happy with who I am and who I have chosen to be. We all have life events that make us question our worth, and I include myself when I say that we need to give ourselves more credit. Life is too short to spend the time beating yourself up.

If you told me a few years ago that I would be where I am today, I would not have believed you. As someone who let my struggles take over my life, I never would have dreamed there would be a day when I could smile and actually mean it. And these days? There is so much to smile about.

This message is for anyone who is trying to find the courage to keep going, or just needs a pick me up. Know that this world is not the same without you in it. The pain you are going through, whether it is in the halls of a school, the loss of a family member, or just the day to day confusion of life, is only temporary. It does get better. There is so much worth fighting for. Someone will always be fighting a battle, so remember to be kind.

Cheers to you, your bright future, and the sunshine on your horizon. I am so excited for this next chapter of my life, and I am glad that I have the support of beautiful people like you. Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to share these thoughts.

Kristie can be found on her blog and twitter