PRINCETON — “I want to change the world and be the voice that saves your life.”
That’s the word from a Princeton man who has started a social movement that reached more than 1,000 people almost overnight.
Twenty-year-old Austin Burrows of Princeton strives to be the light in the darkness, offering hope to those who feel like they are battling life’s troubles all alone through his blog “Positive Life.”
The blog features people who may be dealing with life-threatening situations including the loss of a loved one, suicide, bullying and anxiety. It is a place where each person can share their story in hopes of offering support to others who may be going through the same thing.
“I wanted it to be something where people can share what they’ve experienced so readers can feel relieved and relate,” said Burrows of the inspiration behind Positive Life. “If I can make one less bully, one less hateful message, and one more positive person, then my dream has come true. We all have the power to do something great. You may have to swim through a sea of hate to accomplish it, but I promise if you have the drive, you WILL get there.”
Burrows created Positive Life in January when he was sinking into the depths of despair and needed one good thing to focus on. He figured if he needed one good thing to keep his mind off the negativity in life, then other people probably needed the same thing.
“I’ve had my ups and my downs just like everyone in this world and it took my darkest days to realize that I needed to do something with my life,” explained Burrows. “A little bit after my 20 th birthday I started getting headaches really bad and it freaked me out. I never used to get headaches. I thought it was a brain tumor and thought I was going to die.”
After several visits to the doctor, Burrows was diagnosed with anxiety, not a brain tumor, and it was in that moment he knew he had to do something good for the community.
“I was sitting on the couch and I was like wow I feel really miserable, but I have this awesome support system,” recalled Burrows. “There are probably other kids in the world who are going through horrible things that don’t have that support system, and then I thought if this is my moment where I’m going to die, what have I done to better this world? That really hit home for me to do something big.”
For Burrows, having Positive Life to focus on has really helped him overcome his anxiety. In addition to the blog, Burrows has created Positive Life Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.
“I don’t think words could explain how much my life has changed since this blog has begun,” said Burrows. “It truly was good for me at the time because it kept my mind busy. I shared a little bit about anxiety and got feedback from people going through that too. I’m glad I’m not the only one. Anxiety is different in every person so it’s nice to have someone to relate to.”
He was hoping to just reach a few people and never would have believed he would gain nearly 2,000 followers four months later.
With so many followers, however, hate mail is inevitable.
When asked how he deals with negativity when trying to be a positive light, Burrows replied, “I actually just embrace it. I don’t really say anything back. I just let people say what they want. I’ll get some emails that are really hateful and I actually print them out and frame them to motivate me to keep on doing what I’m doing. Obviously, no matter what you do, there’s going to be someone saying you’re stupid for doing that.”
Burrows isn’t looking to quit blogging anytime soon. The main thing he wants people to realize is that despite his name being attached to Positive Life, it really isn’t about him at all; it’s about everybody else.
“I want everyone to feel like they matter,” Burrows said. “This is a place where you can come and you matter. There is no rule book, no religion, or no color you have to be; it’s for everyone. Please keep writing me, sending me pictures, and telling me how Positive Life has changed you.”
Burrows can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Katlyn Rumbold can be reached at (815) 879-5200 or email@example.com.