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“Freedom is what you do with what’s been done to you.”

“It’s loving things and people passionately and enthusiastically without justifying my feelings.”

That’s from my birthday blog post when I turned 34. That’s two years ago. Before a pandemic. Before burnout brought me to the edge, so I finally took a break from life.

I didn’t write a post on my birthday when I turned 35 because it was at the beginning of the pandemic. I cancelled a trip I’d been planning for over a year. I cried. I sat alone on my couch, eating a birthday cake shaped like toilet paper by myself while friends from all over jumped on a zoom call with me to keep me company that night. That is the most 2020 sentence I can write.

I wasn’t alone in having a pandemic birthday, but it triggered a lot of traumas for me. Birthdays are difficult, but they’ve gotten easier over the past few years because I am so incredibly lucky to have so much love in my life.

💗Love that’s dependable.

💗Love that’s not afraid to call me out on my shit.

💗Love that sees all of me and accepts me unconditionally.

Despite the overwhelming grief, 35 was actually a year of growth.

35 was the year:

💭I finally began therapy.

✈I reconnected with my roots.

💞I found the strength to walk away from toxic situations.

📢I actively began telling my story again, all of it, without holding back for the sake of others.

It’s funny. I began reclaiming my narrative a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t until this year that I really spoke my truths, editing none of the parts out.

My best friend and I were having one of our famous wine-buzzed Friday night heart-to-hearts a few weeks ago. She’s that person who just cuts to my core. We were talking about how I feel like I missed out on enjoying life in my 20s living in DC. We lived there at the same time but didn’t become friends until she moved to Seattle after I did. Whenever she reminisces about her life in DC, it triggers this sadness for me, as if I was living in a parallel universe back then.

As much as I tried to live life on my own terms, until this past year, there was always an external force that kept my light on a dimmer.

Family. Friends. School. My ex-fiance. Friends again. My job. Politics. Family. Money.

Until now.

So when she asked me if I would want to go back and get a chance to rediscover some things I missed, my answer was no. Do I think about the what ifs? Do I feel like I missed out on a few key experiences throughout my life? Of course. I would be lying if I didn’t, but that’s the fun thing about growing up.

This is 36.

I get to finally shine bright and light the path ahead of me.

What’s funny is that I haven’t changed. Not really. A fun discovery I made recently is that my original Twitter handle is still active, and this is the bio from 10 years ago.

I mean, all of that is still pretty accurate. The only thing that’s evolved is my career.

This is 36.

A personal brand so strong that my closest friends regularly “replicate my selfie face.”

A personality so effervescent that the ridiculous spills across borders.

A heart so resilient that I know I’ll always make it through.

A brain so combative that fights against me, but most days, it fights for me.

Like I recently told a friend, I am a lot and I’m OK with that.

I like who I am. 🍾

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