Everyone wants to feel included; everyone wants to feel normal. Sometimes fitting in is the easiest route but man, I wasn’t made to fit in. Hello! My name is Sam Gegen and I am a very PROUD and PRIDEFUL Sunlighten Team member that has been with the company and more importantly, family, for almost six years. Throughout my journey I struggled with accepting my identity and also with addiction. During Pride month, it makes me extremely grateful to have recognized this and continue to work on it while being the voice for so many who are struggling either with addiction or their identity. Not to mention, I am finally with a company that accepts and thrives in diversity and embraces all individual lifestyles and values.
What Does Pride Mean To Me
Pride to me means acceptance and inclusivity. I am now proud to be a part of the LGBTQ community and celebrate living an authentic life. Growing up in a conservative, religious town where only being normal was accepted, led to extremely unhealthy coping mechanisms. These coping mechanisms included heavy drinking and with time, led to addiction and really unhealthy relationships with alcohol. This is common within the LGBTQ community and I have a strong desire to help others in need. Now in my 30’s, I am approaching almost four years of sobriety and have used my newfound platform: social media, YouTube and blog (addictionofchoice.com), to help be the person I needed when I was a trapped younger individual looking for guidance and strong leadership.
My mission and passion in life is to help the LGBTQ community, sober individuals, or anyone struggling to find themselves and overcome their hardships. Within our struggles we find our strengths (fun fact: this is literally tattooed on me😊). As June is Pride month, I reflect on my life’s journey and practice empathy for those who are in the same position I was in years ago. Having positive, adult influences can make a huge impact. Whether you are LGBTQ or simply a straight ally, it’s important to be open and encouraging to a vulnerable population who only really wants to be accepted as equal humans.
How Being Healthy Saved My Life
Going through all the above, healthy outlets and coping mechanisms helped save my life. Literally! I became even more drawn to fitness and working out, heathy hacks including my Sunlighten sauna, blogging and YouTube, to empower my mission to help others and as a creative outlet. I am also very mindful about the information I consume – always making it positive, valuable and motivating. Change your perspective, change your life. I went from relying on alcohol to numb the pain of ‘being different,’ to accepting that I was different and that, in itself, was beautiful. Once I established all of that, I started to embrace self-care; learning how to manage my emotions and anxiety and telling my story to give that little ray of hope to others struggling with the same thing.
When you direct your anxiety and coping skills from past trauma into something healthy and conducive to unlocking your mind, body and spirit – life gets really good! I love using my Sunlighten Solo System to help practice mediation, self-care and to be the best leader for my Sunlighten sales team, the best advocate for my LGBTQ community, and those struggling with addiction. It is the best cure for my anxiety and stress and I cannot go without. If you take care of yourself, you can then take care of others. I said it once and I will say it again, my health and fitness journey has truly saved my life because it is a great way to manage through hardships and mindset barriers. It is the biggest form of healthcare out there, and Sunlighten (the sauna, the work culture, the family, the values) has changed my life and aided in my recovery.
During the month of June, also known as Pride month, I am reflecting on my journey I have embarked on and could not be more grateful that Sunlighten and I have crossed paths. Happy Pride Month Everyone! Pride means being proud of who you are and we should ensure everyone has that right.