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When I set out to clean my apartment this morning, I never imagined the kinds of breakthroughs I would have while picking crud out of my dishwasher filter with a toothpick. It wasn’t until I was on my stomach, cleaning the dust filter underneath my fridge that everything clicked together.

I know, what a visual, right?

2018 has been rough for me but if I’m being honest, I’ve been struggling for about a year now. There have been ups and downs, yes, but mostly, it’s been this weird limbo. I’ve felt like I’ve been walking around with that feeling of needing to pop my ears but never being able to, no matter how hard I blew my nose.

I’ve been stuck emotionally. Mentally. Professionally.

I’ve been stuck in a walk-in freezer, unable to push the handle while the words I need have been haunting me through the frosted window.

<Insert endless metaphors about feeling stuck and depressed here.>

A few weeks ago, I had another candid heart-to-heart with one of my best friends. Right before my 30th birthday, she had asked me if I was freaking out and at the time I wasn’t. My 30th came and went with the regular amount of fanfare and not too much freaking out. I was happy.

“I think my 30th freak out is hitting me now, 3 years later,” I confessed while crying into a glass of red wine. That night, I went home and sat down to write.  [click to continue…]

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My Very Grown-Up Birthday Wish List

On the eve of my 33rd birthday, I’ve been thinking a lot about presents, experiences, and the people in my life. One of my biggest goals over the past few years has been to focus on spending quality time with people in my life and creating memories. Flowers and chocolates will come and go but the laughter and tears you shared over a bottle (or three) of wine live on forever.

So, when it comes to birthdays and birthday presents, my only wish has been about experiences with friends. I have the annual Vegas trip with my girlfriends. In Seattle, I do my best to have dinner & a fun night where my friends can embarrass me (last year, it was a dueling piano bar). When it comes to things, the beauty of being an adult is being able to actually purchase what I want on my own terms. Don’t get me wrong – I appreciate thoughtful personalized presents from friends that touch on inside jokes or my quirky obsessions that make me who I am.

This year, though, as I began thinking about my birthday, I realized that my wish list is very…grown-up. As I come to terms with that, and in my attempt to actually start writing more often, I figured it would make a good blog. [click to continue…]

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My very first comic con was in Seattle in 2013. I was struggling with adjusting to life in my new home, and I was beyond excited about comic con.

The most exciting part? Seeing Misha Collins in person. I knew that I wanted to do a photo-op with him, as well as an autograph session.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve met celebrities before – I love meeting my favorite comedians after their sets. Sure, I’m a little awkward, but I look normal in the pictures.

So when it came time to meet Misha, I was nervous and ecstatic, but I had no idea what was about to happen. I got in line for my photo-op and waited for two hours. Mind you, this was my first con experience, so I didn’t know what to expect.

If you’ve never done a photo-op with a celebrity at a convention, let me enlighten you: [click to continue…]

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Did you know you can now support me on Patreon? 

Merriam-Webster’s Word of the Year for 2017 is feminism, which is fitting on a global level. As I reflect on my personal life, it’s pretty fitting on a smaller scale for me as well. I was driving back from lunch with one of my friends and could not help but reflect on the impact women have had in my life this year.

I have, admittedly, always been one of those girls who got along better with boys when I was growing up. A combination of my home life, my tomboy attitude, and being bullied from a young age, my aggressive behavior resonated better with boys.

I had trouble connecting with other girls and would always find myself drawn to only one other girl who I thought was on the same page. That person usually encouraged me to be a lesser version of myself to build herself up. [click to continue…]

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The Girl Who Thanks Too Much

Did you know you can now support me on Patreon? 

“You do say thank you an awful lot,” one of my best friends joked the other night. While I’ve been working on trying to stop being the one apologizing too much, I didn’t notice my transformation into the girl who thanks too much.

My initial reaction was to get defensive, but then I started thinking about it on my drive home. What’s wrong with thanking too much? We live in an age where we’re rushing through humanity, showing recognition only with a double-click, or on dedicated days to jump on the trending hashtags.

I know, I sound a little grouchy but I’m part of the problem.

I’m fully aware of my contribution to this culture of instant gratification, which is why I don’t mind being accused of thanking “too much.” [click to continue…]

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My bio says that I’ve been sharing my stories with the world since 2003 but it began way before then. Maybe it was with the first AOL trial CD and the first time I found myself in a chatroom. It could’ve been the first Tripod page (think Geocities) I built, trying to figure out how to code a page. I think 2003 refers to my first LiveJournal, but I can’t be too sure. Then came Myspace blogs and finally, my own website. BeingBerrak.com is the 3rd or 4th domain name I’ve used since leaving Myspace behind and ventured out to the internet.

All I know for sure is that I’ve processed everything life has thrown my way by writing it down, and throwing those words out to the world via the internet during my loneliest days.

I’ve received a lot of criticism about how much I share about my life. A lot of people have had opinions about how I should process my pain and how it’s improper that I share so much of my life with strangers.

If only those people know how much I haven’t shared.

Back when I was still writing under a pen name, I used to occasionally post password-protected blogs. They would be on my public blog but only accessible if you knew the password.

Even those were the tip of the iceberg.

I’m 32 years old and every year of my life as long as I could remember has felt like its own lifetime. [click to continue…]

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Small Business Saturday 2017: Etsy Edition

I’m a huge advocate of shopping small when possible, every day, but especially during Small Business Saturday. If you’re not familiar with it, Small Business Saturday is an initiative by American Express, which has taken on a life of its own.

Every year, I try to highlight a few of my favorite Etsy shops and the women behind them.  One of my favorite parts about Small Business Saturday is reminding everyone that shopping small can mean online, supporting Etsy shop owners who work hard at creating high quality, handcrafted goods with love. (If you’re a frugal shopper like me, I’d like to point out that Ebates now provides cashback for Etsy purchases as well. Right now, you can get 6% cashback on your Etsy purchases)

On to the shops: [click to continue…]

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Breaking the Habit

I’m sick of the tension, sick of the hunger
Sick of you acting like I owe you this
Find another place to feed your greed
While I find a place to rest

I’m about to board a plane to Spain and this trip could not have come at a more pivotal point in my life.

I’m tired of being tired.

I say this to my friends – a lot.

Life has always been overwhelming but it feels like the past 6 months, the Universe keeps giving me the middle finger.

At least it feels like that.

The truth is, I want to get on this plane and as I cross the ocean, I want to start letting go.

I want to let go:

The constant disappointment I feel in people after giving them a second, third, eighth chance to let me down.

The grief.

The “what ifs” that have been holding me back for years.

The resentment.

The anger.

The doubt.

I want to let go so that I can finally start healing.

I’ve been looking forward to this trip for weeks but I also almost cancelled it the other day when all I wanted to do was scream. When all I could do was cry.

I’m going to let the Spanish air envelop me and I’m going to start to heal.

I’ll be surrounded by loved ones, friends I trust with my life, and opportunities to make new friends.

My support system here at home has been helping me keep my head (barely) above water and I am forever grateful to them.

I’m going to write. A lot.

I’m going to drink wine and eat cheese and watch sunsets (and probably sunrises).

I’ll be back with a lighter heart.

If I come back. (I kid. Kind of.)

I’ll probably be posting on SnapChat (BerrakDC) and Instagram (BerrakBiz) the most. 

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The Snort Heard Around the World

You know the drill.

You’re standing in front of your classroom/office and you’re buck naked.

I never had that anxiety dream.

I also never pictured that I would stand on a stage in front of 3500 of my peers, mentors, and strangers at my favorite conference in the world.

I certainly didn’t picture myself SNORTING INTO THE MICROPHONE.

But alas.

It happened. [click to continue…]

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Between panic attacks, hiding in my apartment, obsessively reading the news, and working, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the people in my life.

There have been a few great heart-wrenching conversations over the past few weeks.

I visited North Carolina to spend time with my best friend of 18 years.

One of my closest friends visited me in Seattle this past week, and even though we’ve only been friends for 3 years, I consider her family.

Another one of my best friends is someone who’s only been in my life for a little over a year.

18 years. 3 years. 1 year.

I’ve been a friend of convenience to many people in my life. The person they needed to boost themselves up before moving on to the next chapter. I’m fairly certain I’ve done that to others throughout life as well.

It’s just how we operate. Sometimes on purpose. Most of the time, subconsciously as we try to navigate this emotional maze of life.

I’ve let a lot of people down. And in some instances, I’m still making amends. I mean, I really am a bad friend.

One of the biggest lessons I’ve learned about people is that we’re all fighting our demons, and we all make assumptions.

I certainly do.

A lot of tears have been shed over the past couple of weeks as I’ve finally broken down and said “I know I disappointed you. I know we’ve drifted, but this is a friendship I want to fight for. How can I make amends?”

It’s hard to quiet the noise in my head yelling at me about being unworthy, telling me that every single person in my life will leave eventually. It’s hard to think over the screams of doubt, to find the strength to sit down and write the words.

It’s hard, but it’s worth it.

Because people will come and go during my life. I firmly believe there are seasons of friendships, but when the dust settles, who do I want by my side?

Those are the connections I’m fighting for. Those are the connections I want to mend. Those are the threads that I’m holding on to for dear life.

I want those 18 years of memories to turn into 36. I want every moment I spend with my friends to count, even if all we’re doing is sitting on the couch and watching Will & Grace.

So, I’m fighting.

I’ll keep fighting but there are days when battles are lost, or cancelled because I can’t find the strength after fighting my own demons.

There are days I won’t make sense. Days I’ll be extra needy. Hours of crying. Moments of doubt where I’ll ask “No, but seriously, why are you friends with me?”

And sometimes, there will be those times when I am so worn out, so defeated, so scared, that I’ll get on the defensive.

The walls will come up and I’ll push the world away.

Real talk: That’s where I am now. I can feel the defenses going up. I can hear the walls being built. I can feel my fragile heart retreating to recover.

I honestly don’t know what it will take for me to feel secure again. I’ll keep fighting those battles when it’s necessary but right now?

Well, you’ll have to bring those battles to me.

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