Madi Conrad's definintion of Bona Fide

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“Bona Fide”

When I stumbled upon these words just short of a year ago, I had no idea the impact on my life that was about to take flight. It was at a time where I was struggling with depression; battling the toughest season life had thrown my way.

Just shy of eighteen years of age, my senior year of high school, and I felt like I was drowning. An inescapable feeling of hopelessness, anxiousness, numbness, sadness that I couldn’t seem to free myself from. Like one of those dreams where you keep falling & falling into the never-ending pit of darkness.

Even though some days I could barely drag myself out of bed, I knew I had to remain that girl everyone saw me as- right? The perfect daughter, the perfect student, the bubbly & outgoing friend. All my relationships were built off this model version I created of myself. And that girl doesn’t have bad days, let alone depression- right???  

I had never in my life been open and honest about what I was going through.  Why would I of start now? For years, I put on a face for others pretending to have it all together, juggling school, work, and personal trials all on my own so no one would know I was struggling.

“No one will understand,” I told myself.
“It’s all in your head.”
“You don’t have it THAT BAD, look at all these people around you, they’re the ones who know real suffering.”
“If anyone found out, you’d never be looked at the same.”

I was tormented every day by my own fears. But my biggest fear of all was that people would find out that I was NOT okay. Most importantly, my close friends and family. So I continued to keep it all in.

I pulled away from the people closest to me so they wouldn’t find out the depth of my sadness. I crammed my schedule every day between work and studying so I was barely home, but could always say no to hanging out with friends. All this to keep the image of the “perfect” girl who had it all together. I really believed I had it figured out. Months went by and I felt so isolated & alone. Nothing was getting better, and I felt more helpless than ever. I began to understand what people meant when they describe being afraid of their own thoughts.

Around Christmastime, completely unexpectedly, I was compelled to share with two girls what I was going through. And while things didn’t immediately turn around for me, it was a start. I let them see the dark corners, the ones I’d never shown anyone. They held my hand and told me that I was going to be okay, despite my disbelief.  

I learned so much about myself through these friendships. I finally understood the message Be Bona Fide was promoting, in the most overwhelming way. I began to realize the importance of being REAL, not just on social media, but in every nook of life. We NEED people to see us for who we really are, not for the perceptions we create. It's a necessary part of life, but you won't realize it until it's you’ve tried it yourself.

I have the perfect life on Instagram, but my life is far from perfect. I am far from perfect. I am committed to realness because I grew up pretending to have it all together all the time, and I’ve seen the damage it causes. Being real is so so important & necessary for a fulfilling life. We have the capability to use social media as a tool to lift others up. But there is still a great deal to learn on how to appear passionate, thoughtful, and genuine on these platforms all while still creating beautiful and unique content. Everyone needs to know they are not alone in their brokenness. Everyone is struggling in one way or another.

I’m still learning that it’s okay to not be okay, but sharing this was a huge step for me. Something I never in a million years planned on. Even now, I’m shaking as I type this and know that tonight this huge thing I’ve been hiding for so long will be exposed. But there’s peace in my anxieties because I know that this is right. I strongly believe this message was divinely placed in my life with a purpose. How could it not be?

So here I am, as genuine as I’ve ever been, in hopes of demonstrating what being Bona Fide can do. It strengthens relationships, creates new ones, develops confidence, magnifies beauty, and intensifies the reality that you are not alone.