It can be incredibly hard to find passion and purpose after suffering enormous tragedy.

Steph Aiello is only 26, but she has been through so much. The past six years have been a roller coaster, starting with a tragic car accident that left her paralyzed from the waist down with limited hand mobility. She was lucky, though — one of the two other people in the car died. The crash happened one day before Aiello planned to start beauty school, so her life felt completely derailed.

Misfortune struck again when, on a Christmas visit away from the hospital, Aiello and her family were in a car wreck caused by a drunk driver. Her parents suffered injuries, and Aiello was in disbelief.

“I remember sitting there thinking, ‘This just can’t be real,'” she said. “Like, ‘Why am I here?’ Sitting there in the car and your dad’s not speaking to you because he’s been knocked out and your mom’s not breathing in the back seat – you’re just thinking, ‘Why? Why does this have to happen?’ You sit there and think you’ve been through enough.”

Aiello recently shared a before-and-after picture from shortly after the accidents and now. She was lost back then, but something changed. She remembered her love for makeup.

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