Britney's Story "Everything is Beautiful"

Sharing your story to the world is personal and can make you vulnerable, but I felt the need to...as I think we all have this need. All of our stories are special and important. So, during the photo shoot with Randy, for my story, he asked me to think of a moment that would stay with me forever. I remember thinking, how could I possibly know what was going to stay with me, being only 16-years-old. But at my age, I have already gone through what most people never go through. I have endured pain, silence, and countless doctor appointments. Even then the first thing I knew that would stay with me forever wasn’t the pain. It was the moment I knew taking pictures was who I was. It was the moment I first got my camera and I made my sister go outside in the cold to take pictures of her. It was the moment I captured one single photograph that changed my life.

Britney Strong 7 Billion Ones Randy Bacon

Now let's back up, my story doesn’t start as a 14-year-old who had just gotten a camera. My story starts as a 5-year-old who failed her health fair hearing test in kindergarten. I remember the nurse telling my mom, “It’s not a big deal, just keep an eye on her hearing and we will see what happens." For the next year everything was normal, that is until my first grade health fair. I took the hearing test again, and failed more dramatically. This is when the nurse told my mom an Audiologist should check me out. From that point on I got my first hearing aids and constantly went to the audiologist like it was a second home. My hearing was dropping, and fast. Not only was it a mystery on why I had a hearing loss; it was a mystery on why it was continuing to go away.

Britney Strong 7 Billion Ones Randy Bacon

Fast forward to August 2014, I’m-14-years old. I still have a hearing loss, now about 60-70% and we still have no idea why. Before August I never really had headaches. I didn’t know what being “light-headed” was like, much less knowing what a migraine was. Then in the last few weeks of August I started getting such bad migraines I was bedridden for two weeks. I couldn’t move, function, or talk. The pain was unbearable. The migraines were not like anything I have ever heard of before. They weren’t triggered by light or sound, they weren’t in one particular place on my head, and they weren’t just one single type of pain. There were no patterns. The next few months were quite similar to that, except for the fact I learned to deal with the pain. I would take medicine and went to doctors who in the end, had no idea how to help me. So instead of chasing my tail to nowhere, I stopped trying to figure out what was happening and just accepted this is who I am now and lived my life to the fullest. And that’s when I got into photography, a stunning way for me to escape my reality and prove that everything is beautiful.

Britney Strong 7 Billion Ones Randy Bacon

Almost two years later, now almost 17, my migraines have gotten worse as well as my hearing. Even though we went to many different doctors, instead of figuring out what was causing these other problems, we only found more things wrong with me. I have been diagnosed with Meniere’s disease, chronic migraines, bilateral hearing loss, vertigo, anxiety, an allergy to sugar, an allergy to dairy, eye problems, and heart arrhythmia. Even then that doesn’t cover my shoulder and knee joint problems. You may look at all of these things and become overwhelmed and ask, “How does she do it?”. The answer to that is simple. I am optimistic. I know these things make me who I am today and I know I will overcome them. I don’t let these silly things control me and stop me from doing what I love.

I am more than just my illnesses. Everyone is. In fact, most people would look at me and say, “I had no idea you are ill.” That my friend, is the point. I love photography, reading, traveling, writing, and proving that everything and everyone is beautiful. It all depends on how you look at it.