Tonight is my final night being twenty-three. If you would have asked me back in January how I felt about this year, I would have told you it was my worst yet. From my birthday, all through the winter, I was a hot mess. I was burnt out, I was anxious, I was sad, I was angry, and I just didn't care. I felt hopeless and spent so many nights crying my eyes would swell up. I told so many people that looking back at who I was the year before, and who I was now, I was so disappointed in myself. I felt that I'd gone backwards.
But tonight, I'm so proud of who I've become, what I've accomplished, and the person I am. Twenty-three was not the worst year of my life. It might actually be one of the best. I want to remember the things that I've learned in this past year.
Friends- You need them.
First off I wouldn't even be writing this post about how this has been a great year without the help of great friends. Back in February when I felt utterly hopeless, I invited two friends out for yogurt to introduce them since they were both pregnant and could help each other. After we'd been there awhile I finally admitted that I was feeling hopeless with the world. Immediately one friend asked if I'd changed birth control recently. It was an out of the blue odd question, but she was right. My insurance changed the brand I'd been using for four years literally three weeks earlier. She told me that might be the problem and how a similar thing had happened to her and I should go to my doctor right away and get it switched. I did, and it was a night and day difference. I stopped crying every night and the world didn't seem so bleak. I truly feel she was inspired to say that to me, and I share this experience with everyone I can because birth control can be a taboo topic, but it can really mess with your head and body.
The first years of our marriage, I didn't go out with friends often. I felt that I didn't need too many, that Sammy and my family was enough for me and I should focus on that. That was so wrong. This last year I've made a real effort to make new friends and spend time with them and it's made my life feel full. I need that time with with other women, good women who uplift me. Whenever I have an issue or need to talk with someone, I have someone to go to. I have my friends who I tell silly jokes to, friends to discuss Taylor Swift with, friends to tell my hurts to, friends to talk about writing with, and friends to discuss church. Making friends I've felt my relationship with Sammy grow as well.
I've also learned that friendships change. Some friends truly are in our lives for a season, a reason, or forever. I've had to accept that, and decide which friendships truly uplift me and help me grow as a person now. I've learned to be okay with that and where to prioritize my time.
To Speak Up For Myself
I was able to go to therapy again this year through my work which was a huge blessing and is another reason that it's been a great year. This therapist had a very different approach and instead of talking through everything that was bothering me, we spent a lot of time getting in tune with my body and paying attention to where I was uncomfortable when I became anxious. I can't remember the correct lingo, but the places that would hurt when I was anxious had to do with being able to speak and self actualization.
A month into therapy a conflict came up with my therapist and I felt betrayed. I wanted to stop going and just avoid everything. However with some coaching from Sammy, I sent her an email explaining everything I felt. The next morning my therapist called me and apologized for the mix up, and then complimented me on speaking up for myself. She said that the person she met a month ago wouldn't have done that and it took a lot of strength to speak up for myself and be true to what I needed.
Since then, I've had so many situations where I was able to speak up for myself and do what was right for me instead of staying silent and suffering or staying angry. Sometimes I would be on the verge of tears but I was able to do it. It took strength and I've felt myself grow each time.
I am Strong
I have dealt with so much crap this year at my job. I could write an entire book just on all the weird experiences I encounter daily. This year I've been on the phone with the police more times than I can count, calling for help when someone is threatening our guard, reporting missing children, and more. I'm able to stay calm in emergency situations and am not afraid to raise my voice. Heck, when a man followed me to my car to beg for money and wouldn't leave the window, I just started driving, not afraid to run him over.
I don't want to jinx myself and have the worst week in the history of ever, but I am so much stronger mentally than I was a year ago. I'm not scared every time someone comes through the door. I deal with people going through the hardest moments of their lives daily and it doesn't bring me down like it did before. I've learned that it's not my fault, they are struggling and I don't need to take things personally. I'm learning to let go of everything that happens and move on. Sometimes it takes awhile but I do let it go.
I'm also strong physically. This last year I've lost thirty pounds and gained a lot of muscle. I love going to the gym and feeling my body work. At one point I was able to run for three minutes straight at a decent pace, but after a major panic attack and almost passing out at the gym, I'm slowly working my way back to that and through that fear. I know I'll get there.
It's Okay to Treat YoSelf and Feel Pretty
One of my biggest regrets from my wedding is not taking care of myself. I felt like I didn't deserve money to be spent on me or people to help me, so I didn't get my makeup done or my hair. I didn't try too hard to get a professional photographer when ours couldn't do our date. I didn't celebrate with my bridesmaids or have a bachelorette party because I didn't feel like it was too much trouble to ask.
Back in June I finally convinced Sammy to get professional anniversary pictures taken of us, I decided that I was going to get my makeup done as well. I'd never had it done professionally and I wanted to look my best for our pictures. I almost cancelled minutes before the appointment feeling like I shouldn't spend money on myself and it was a waste, but I'm so so glad that I did it! I absolutely loved the way I looked, and our pictures.
For my birthday I decided that it was finally time that I get a pedicure and a manicure since I'd never had one before. I spent two weeks debating whether I should actually do it, and if I should do both, or if I could ask my sister to go with me. Thanks to awesome friends and Sammy's encouragement I finally went and I got both done and it was wonderful! I had a great time with my sister and I felt so pampered and love my nails.
I've struggled with justifying buying new clothes for myself since losing weight as well. Part of it is fear that I'll gain all the weight back if I get something new, and part of it is feeling guilty for spending money on me. I've been slowly getting new items though and trying not to feel bad about it. Progress.
My Faith is a Journey and it's All Mine
I've spent a lot of this year struggling with my faith in one dimension or another. Whether that be with how to balance church responsibilities with everyday life, how to serve more, or how to better rely on my Savior. Every time I feel like I've mastered one aspect, something else gets thrown at me. My faith is a journey though and it's all mine; people can help me on it but I'm the one who has to do it which is a beautiful thing. I cherish the things I've learned and I'm not going to give up on learning. It's totally okay if my pace isn't the same as others. I'm learning that everyone is human and makes mistakes and we have to accept that. The truth that Christ is my Savior and that He atoned for me to be better isn't going to change no matter what someone else says or does to me.
Marriage Rocks but Takes Work, I Am Not and Never Will Be a Perfect Wife, and That's Okay
Being married to Sammy is awesome. We've had so many fun times giggling this year and done so many fun things like swim with dolphins. I'm learning that he's my best friend more and more and getting more close to him. At the same time, I've realized that my perfectionism is a major stumbling block in getting even closer. For some reason I expect myself to be perfect. When I'm not, I spend hours agonizing over my mistakes while Sammy has already forgiven me for them and most of the time forgotten them. I sit there in the past while he's moved on. I'm learning to forgive myself and give up all hopes of being the perfect wife, but of just being a better one and drawing closer to Sammy and God.
How to Take Rejection
I've had quite a bit of rejection this year. I've sent two books out into the publishing world, along with entered a huge writing contest. So far, all I've gotten are no's on my writing. I've realized that I can take rejection in three's, the first two I can brush it off but the third is when it really hits. I've questioned whether I can be a writer so many times this past year. Yet, I keep on doing it. I have to. No amount of no's is going to make these stories stop begging to be written, and then revised a million times. No amount is going to take away that small ounce of hope that maybe, just maybe, this will be the time.
Sweet notes like the above also help me keep going.
Those are a few of the things I've learned this year. There have been so many more, but this is what I was able to dump out before falling asleep. Tomorrow, I wake up twenty-four and super excited to see what I've learned a year from now.