So often we get stuck in ruts. Hold ourselves to unrealistic expectations. Or lose ourselves in someone else in order to feel loved. Learning to truly love yourself is the key to living your best life. Here is a journey to self love.
One of my goals for myself this year was to learn how to be quiet. I have a need to fill the silence with anything. Music, my voice, TV, anything that can cut the silence. The silence was always uncomfortable for me. It made the thoughts in my head that I was trying to ignore oh so loud. My anxiety would take over. With this constant need to fill the void that I felt silence created, I missed out on so much.
So, I decided that I would slow down and accept silence. I would practice the art of being quiet. I started being quite more when around my family. Not because I didn’t want to talk to them, but because I wanted to really hear them. You’d be surprised what you can learn about someone when you sit in silence with them. Or when you shut up and actually listen to someone other than yourself talk.
I didn’t explain this goal to anyone. I decided it was something I was doing for myself, and it was better left unsaid. When I got back from my trip to Hawaii with my sister’s family, she asked my mom if I had fun because I was quiet. This broke my heart a little. My sister thought I didn’t have fun because I was actually quiet for a change 🤦🏻♀️. I was so quiet because I wanted to be genuinely in these moments with them. I tried to soak in every little detail. The experience, the scenery (which will leave you speechless anyway), and all those little moments with them that I’ll never get again. I was quiet and present. I loved every second of that trip with them, but my seemingly sudden behavior change had my sister confused.
This year has been the perfect year to start the practice of being quiet. As we all know, this year has been a shit show. All of the unknown, drastic changes to normal everyday life, and forced quality time with your loved ones, known as quarantine, I honed my ability to be silent. I’ve finally mastered the art of comfortable silence. I no longer feel a need to fill a void.
This morning I wasn’t able to fall back asleep after being woken up. Most mornings, it’s easy for me to slip back into slumber, but today not so much. I laid in bed. The only noises were coming from my fan and Eleanor with her labored breathing. Staring at my ceiling, I was overwhelmed by the stillness. The stillness I tend to miss because even when being quiet, I’m usually moving or active in some way. I eventually moved myself out to my back patio. Sitting here now, I’ve listened to birds and neighbors awaken. I’ve watched the sun slowly creep into the sky. I’ve heard Eleanor and Herschey hunt for lizards. I’ve felt the air go from crisp and slightly cool to humid and warm. I soaked in all of this because I woke up with the weight of the world on my shoulders. I was lying in bed this morning, and the shock of yesterday had finally disappeared. My indifference was gone and an overwhelming heaviness was sitting in my chest. I felt the need to sit in silence and observe. I feel the need to be quiet more than ever now. The need to soak in every second of the next 5 1/2 weeks.
Virginia Woolf once said, “If you do not tell the truth about yourself, you cannot tell it about other people.” When I write, that is what I try to do. I try to tell my truth. I try to make sure that when I tell my story, I try to be unapologetically truthful. I talk about things we all try to keep hidden, anxiety, depression, mental health awareness, etc.. I try not to be redundant in my writing, and I try my hardest to be relatable. To let others know that they’re not alone. We all have heavy stuff we carry.
My life has been filled with heaviness. Heaviness that I have a hard time sharing with others. Heaviness that eats away at me. Writing has been my way to lift some of that weight. To be able to talk about it. To be able to grow as a person. The last couple of weeks have been profoundly heavy on me.
The saying when times get tough, you find out who your friends are, is true. Over the past few years, I’ve let go of people who showed me they were only surface friends. In the last six weeks, I’ve learned a few more hard lessons with friends. People whom I would’ve bent over backward for proved themselves not to do the same. I’m aware that we’re all at ages now where we are adults and have our own busy lives, but part of being an adult and a friend is knowing when to be there for someone else. Those of you that have been there that have genuinely cared to know the real answer to “how are you” and those of you that have shown up; I can not thank you enough. You’ve helped me open my eyes to who is more than a surface friend. I’m finally at peace with my circle becoming smaller.
The last six weeks weren’t just about opening my eyes with my relationships in my life. There was a great deal of reflection about my life. I’ve repeatedly been told my options are limited and I’m complicated. I’ve come to have a love-hate relationship with this complexity. I love that everything about me is complex. I’m a light, bubbly person, but once you get to know me, you see that there is much more beneath all of that. As my best friend, Madison, told me last night, “there’s so much concealed under your outgoing, upbeat personality.” She’s not wrong and what she said sat with me all night. I love the complexity of my being in that sense but hate it in the medical sense. Being complicated in the medical world is not a hidden beauty. It’s messy, and no one wants to be messy. It’s caused me to be filled with fear. I live every day with fear. Fear of the unknown because the unknown in this situation usually points to death.
People are always saying things about how quickly life can change and how we need to live in the moment. How often do you find someone doing that? I feel as if we only think about life that way when something terrible happens. In the last few weeks, I’ve repeatedly told myself that if it doesn’t bring me happiness or serve me in a positive manner that I need to cut it out. But we rarely take our own advice, do we? It wasn’t until I spent a Tuesday morning with my friend Lilly that it all came full circle. Everyone needs a Lilly in their life, and for those of you that know her, aren’t we lucky. She has provided me with an endless amount of entertainment, a safe space, and a love like no other. Sometimes we view things differently, and one of us has to adjust our outlook to overcome the disconnect, and that, my friends, is a healthy friendship. So, we’re sitting on her couch on a Tuesday afternoon after having a good morning. I’m getting ready to leave for a doctor’s appointment, and she can visibly see the fear on my face. For some reason, just to have her acknowledge that she can not begin to comprehend my fear, but has genuinely tried to, as well as how much she sits with it because she loves me, was precisely what I needed to hear. I felt seen at that moment. I had someone look me in the eye and hold back their pain to tell me that they didn’t understand mine, but they tried to, and she wasn’t going to give me advice but that she supported me in whatever choice I made. This was exactly what I had needed at that moment, and Lilly tends to always deliver in those moments of need. I found myself reflecting on our conversation the whole way to Pensacola, reflecting on how I needed to take my own advice, how I needed to remove things that no longer positively serve me. I need to do what makes me happy and stop caring if others understand what that looks like because I have people other than my family, like Lilly and Madison, who will always support me. I have friends that are genuine.
So now I’m at another turning point in my life. I’m lying in a hospital starting a new medication that has the potential to help me or severely cause damage. I’m discussing possibly having another surgery. With all of this unknown and all of the potential life-changing things that can happen, I’m trying to remind myself that I need to take my own advice. I’m no longer going to sit at tables where I might be the topic of discussion when I get up. I’m going to stop caring about what my happiness looks like to others. I’m going to continue sharing my truth even if others don’t understand why. I’m going to try to continue to share my heaviness and make sure others know they’re not alone. I’m going to try and live unapologetically.
Recently I’ve been asked to describe myself to others. Or to tell someone about myself. I never know how to answer this question appropriately. I don’t think someone wants to hear how I would describe myself or how I see myself. I don’t think it would come out in a socially acceptable way. I’d much prefer to hear how others see me. So I thought about it long and hard. This is how I see myself.
Last night while driving with my windows down the hot, humid air on my skin, and The head and Hearts- Rivers and Roads turned up, I felt overwhelmed. That kind of overwhelmed that makes tears silently fall down your cheeks. Something triggered an emotion that was just under the surface and was needing to be released. There it was a few simple tears while singing the words that were making the emotion show itself. This happens to me a lot. It is situations like this that made me realize that I was a little different.
I always knew I was a little different, and I knew at a young age. Not the kind of difference where I don’t have friends and was socially awkward. The type of difference where I didn’t fully relate to others. I have always had what has been described as an old soul or sad eyes or a sense of sadness about me. Many different people, from family to strangers, have told me this. “It’s that tortured soul that makes you artsy” or “You can tell you suffered trauma, and you carry it.” Doesn’t everyone suffer some kind of trauma? I mean, hell, no one has perfect parents or a perfect life. Isn’t that what makes us human? I know I am a little damaged. I was born damaged, and I do carry the weight of that with me. I have experienced emotional trauma because I’ve allowed myself to be vulnerable. And the older I get and reflect on myself, the more I grow and find myself, the more I realize that maybe there is a sadness to me.
Maybe I’ve always known it, and that’s why I’ve felt different. Perhaps that’s why I talk too much. I talk to distract so it isn’t as noticeable or I’m too boisterous so you can’t see that it’s there. Because being different wasn’t something I was okay with, and I’ve always cared what people thought of me. I have overcompensated my whole life just to please others. The more I grow, the more I am embracing this part of me.
I like sad books, movies, and songs. Especially the songs. I’m a lyrics person. When I can relate to a song, it’s because I can tell that the person who wrote has the same sense of sadness to them too. Hell, I’m the person that cries when I hear a song that moves me—case in point, last night. I can recognize this sadness in art. In paintings, sculptures, and photographs. I like stories that are real and raw. That don’t have the perfect ending. It creates a beautiful kind of sadness. I would describe it as an air of melancholy. Maybe I have it because I am such an empathetic person. Or it’s the trauma. Or it’s that I have an old soul. Or perhaps it is because I am meant to show it to others, in the hope that it moves them.
I’m the kind of person that finds solace in little things. Like when I’m feeling sorrowful I want to go outside and stare at the stars and moon. Or go to a library or bookstore and get lost in the stories. Or drive with the windows down and a song filled with emotion turned up. Or go to the beach and become engulfed by the water. I want to feel everything in those moments.
I’m also the kind of person that is full of contradictions. I want to be fiercely independent but have someone that will take care of me when warranted. I like to be alone but feel lonely. I am creative and lazy at the same time. I want to feel everything and, at times, nothing because it’s so overwhelming. I want someone to see me truly but I have walls I’m not sure anyone can handle. I am afraid I’m a disappointment to others, yet I demand respect and hold myself accountable. I’m all over the map, and I know it. I know that I’m different and sorrowful. I’m empathetic and constantly overwhelmed by emotions. But how do you tell a stranger that? That’s never the things they want to hear. They want you to list off your accomplishments or generic descriptions about yourself. They don’t want to hear, “I like sad music and have an annoying laugh.” Y’all my cackle is out of control, and I know it. Earlier my friend told me my laugh was angelic, and I thought, “yeah, okay, for sounding like a demon is cackling.” I’m sorry if you’ve ever heard it.
How does one describe themselves in a light that doesn’t reflect that they’re their own worst critic? The guilt we feel for our failures and moments of harshness. Or the insecurities we have with ourselves. If we only focused on the good things, we’d come off as conceded. I can’t appropriately describe myself with accomplishments and generic descriptions. I’m full of failures and depth.
Failure is not something “we” as a society openly talk about. If you’re anything like me though, then you have had moments where you’ve felt like a failure. I tend to compare my life to the life of my peers, THANK YOU social media. As a whole “we” do not get on Facebook or Instagram and post about the things we fail at. We post about our BIG moments. Picture perfect moments(that are usually scripted). Our accomplishments. Our failures are also BIG moments though. So why don’t we share them? I feel that we get so caught up in being perfect and appearing to have the perfect life that we become unimaginably hard on ourselves. I constantly say that I am my own worst critic because it is true. I tend to feel that everything I do isn’t enough or good enough. Hell, I thought I would be in a much different place in life at 29. I thought I would be a different person than I am, but my failures have shaped me to be this person.
I thought I would check all the boxes in my twenties. You know, do everything the way you’re “supposed’ to do it. I’d graduate high school and go to college. I’d get my degree and start my career. I’d meet the right person and fall in love. We’d buy a house, get married and start a family. Let’s all just take a moment to laugh at that, please! I have FAILED miserably at ALL of those “boxes”. While I can laugh at this I also struggle because I see my peers doing all of these things. Checking off these boxes in the “right” order. I find myself green with envy at times and other times I am not envious at all. That’s because I have realized that my failures were blessings. Realizing this has freed me of the weight of my failures that make my green side shine. My path is different than theirs and my timeline is my OWN. Finding this clarity and growing comfortable with it has happened because I openly talk about how I have failed at things. I laugh about it and I don’t hide it away. I don’t feel shame for failing at something anymore and neither should anyone else. So let’s talk about some of these failures.
I’ll stick to the “boxes” I failed to check off. I still don’t have a college degree! My first attempt at college was right after high school like the majority of people. 18 and so confused with adulthood, my heart was not in it. I had no idea who I was or what I wanted from my life. I had a hard time seeing past the day at hand. I took time off of school. I took the time to figure it out. I moved in with my sister(the best roommate ever) and we had our own little house and routine. I worked multiple jobs and took the time to think about my future. I realized what I wanted to do with my life and took my test to get into a nursing program. Passed with flying colors and nailed my interview. Now after 2 attempts I have had to retire that goal and that was not so much a failure because it is out of my control. That was because of a whole other demon I battle daily and will never truly have the upper hand on. I went back to school recently to work towards another dream of mine and my heart decides to stop. So once again I have not failed but had to put my health first. While overall it is a failure because I failed to check off that box, I know that I will continue to work on getting my degree. I will accomplish that goal and it will no longer be in the failure column. I will do it without rushing and sacrificing my health.
And on to another one…failed relationships or also know as relationshits. In my twenties, I had 2 serious relationships that, well failed. Clearly, I am not married or engaged. Now I see that them failing was them working out in my favor. Don’t get me wrong at the beginning of them I had those moments where I thought, “Maybe this is the one!” I really would love to have that beautiful 50-year marriage that everyone dreams about, but I sure am glad it hasn’t happened for me yet. My relationships failed for many reasons, some that were not my fault and some that were. While they aren’t my failures alone they are still failed relationships. The low points that came from it led me down a path that was HARD, but beautiful. I was/am on my path to finding myself without someone being attached to my existence. I have found how to set boundaries. To have personal growth I had to face hard truths. I started going to therapy (and I strongly believe everyone should at some point in their lives) to figure out how to set boundaries, identify toxic behaviors and to identify my insecurities. I have to actively work on these things and without failing I would not have been able to get this. I had to fail. While I may not be married or engaged like I thought I would be at 30 at least I didn’t marry the wrong person. I have had the opportunity to figure out exactly what I want in a partner and find my peace. Peace is something I never even knew I needed. I am now so comfortable alone that I refuse to disrupt this peace unless someone is absolutely worth it.
Obviously being alone means I have not been able to start a family, not that being married is the only way you can start a family, but you get my point. But being alone is not the only reason I haven’t popped out mini Madelyns. I really did think I would be a mom by now and that I would eventually have 4 kids. Now, this isn’t a technical failure on my part. For those that have read my blogs or know me, you know that I can not have kids. While that is not my fault, completely out of my control and I in no way shape or form caused this to happen. I still felt like I failed as a woman. Please, please spare me the whole, “just because you can’t have kids doesn’t mean you failed as a woman” or “having kids is not the only thing a woman can do” speech. I know bearing children and starting families aren’t the only thing a woman can do or the only thing that makes us a woman. Biologically, however, it sets us apart from men. We are given the ability to grow life inside of us and I have moments where I feel like a failure.
While I failed to check off those big boxes we’re told we must accomplish to be successful, I have also failed at many other things. I have failed at any and every fitness challenge I have set for myself. I am currently living at my parents for the 2nd time in 3 years. I have failed to hold myself accountable for the goals I have set for myself. I have failed by letting myself get discouraged because I see my peers’ lives progressing faster than mine and I have failed myself by not openly talking about the things and ways I have failed. Our hard moments in life tend to be kept secret and swept under the rug. We put up our “happy” pictures and filter our lives so they appear constantly perfect. I am guilty of it. I have deleted photos after a break up so people can’t go back and see where my relationship failed. I post updates of my health when things are going well and I post photos of a happier time while laying in bed struggling with depression. When you struggle with depression and you have those days when it takes everything to get you out of bed just to shower, you feel like you’re failing. I fail A LOT at things. I hate being bad at something. I get discouraged easily and I have cried endless tears because I feel so far behind sometimes. But I am realizing that it is okay that I have failed. It is okay I am not the person I thought I was supposed to be. It more than okay, to be honest, and accept the things I have fallen short on. It is okay because being open and honest about it has allowed for personal growth I did not know possible. It’s allowed me to be vulnerable and be thankful for my big moments that are good. I have been able to accept that my timeline is my own and however small my progress may look to someone else, it is still my progress. It is moving forward at the pace that is right for me.
I am not writing this to preach change upon others. I am writing this in hopes of being relatable. To let others know it is okay when you try something new and you suck at it. It okay to acknowledge your failures. It doesn’t make you seem less than it shows you have courage instead. It is okay that you haven’t checked off those boxes and it is okay if you aren’t the person you thought you would be at this point. Talk about your failures!!! It allows you to grow and to set new boundaries. It helps you see the good things that came from failing.
I’ve been in my own world lately. A world filled with doctors visits, medical testing, sleep deprivation, and anxiety. I’ve been working extremely hard at not letting myself spiral down a deep dark hole of depression. When I say working extremely hard I mean doing everything humanly possible to keep myself from completely shutting everyone out and becoming 300 pounds while binge watching everything I can stream on my TV. I haven’t been the most hands on version of myself when it comes to my relationships. I have not been the most attentive friend, sister, daughter or granddaughter. The balance between keeping myself from being consumed by my anxiety and being present is a tiresome battle.
For the last several months I’ve traveled to New Orleans, Nashville and Pensacola to see doctor after doctor. Trying to find some rhyme or reason to why my heart and oxygen seem to do whatever they want. For 13 months I’ve been dealing with trying to get a handle on my tachycardia and all that comes with it. I have requested referrals to see specialist. I have tirelessly fought to find a solution. Recently I discovered my oxygen levels like to dip down a little too low. Hence my recent photos with a nasal cannula or an oxygen pack strapped across me. Also you can notice my increasingly dark circles under my eyes. All of this has been consuming. Wholly consuming. Mind, body and soul. It’s taken EVERYTHING in me to maintain my sense of humor and to keep my head above water.
I constantly feel like I’m treading water. I have days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing I’ve ever done. I have days when making my bed is my biggest accomplishment. Most nights I toss and turn, stare at the ceiling, and mull over every possible scenario that the doctors could throw at me. I’ll be in a room of people and not be present. I get lost in my thoughts at times while having a conversation with someone I won’t have heard a word they said. I get tired of talking about it and feel like everyone is tired of hearing about it all. Mainly because I never have answers. I keep having to ask off of work for appointment after appointment. I’m afraid to ask off for a mental health day and I’m needing those more increasingly. Even when I am at work it’s hard to stay on task, my mind is always elsewhere.
For those of you that follow me on social media and see all of my self care posts it’s because I am struggling. It’s because I need to be reminded that depression and anxiety are normal. That I need to be told from time to time that it’s perfectly okay to not be okay. So I post it to remind myself and because I know that someone else might need to be reminded that they’re not the only one going through it.
Last time I wrote I had just been called a “ticking time bomb” by a doctor. I then waited days to hear from a team of doctors that they all agreed. That I was too complex of a case for them. I was consumed with anger and frustration. My mood has since turned into one of worry, fear, and doubt. My weight is fluctuating. I’m stressing so much my skin is breaking out. Some days I stare into the mirror and think, “what if this doctor can not do anything? What if I have only two extreme options? One that results in more side effects and ailments. Or one that could result in paralysis and relying solely on a battery to make my heart function?” What do I do then? Do I risk the extreme? Do I continue to fight and be “brave” or do I let go? Give up and live life like I am in fact a time bomb?” Do I do that whole “live life to the fullest” thing that we all say we will do? Live with no regrets. Stop waiting for my life to happen after I get well and just accept that at any moment my heart could stop beating. That my defibrillator could go off and revive me until one day it can’t. Do I risk it and fight or do I live my life until I succumb to ventricular fibrillation? Hence my aloofness as of late.
These questions are debilitating. They weigh heavy on my mind, my soul and my physical body. My sisters recently joked about why I take such long showers. They said I was contemplating life in the shower and well, they are right. I get lost in the hot water and steam. I imagine scenario after scenario and how I will handle them. But now I am doing that all the time not just in the shower. I’m fighting for answers and fighting depression. I constantly get told by friends and acquaintances how they admire my strength and grit. But I feel like such a fraud when complemented by them because I feel anything but strong. I put up a great facade of humor and strength, but I’m struggling to not cry constantly. Every time someone asks about my appointments, asks how I am doing, or every time a stranger stares at me toting around my oxygen. I needed to break my facade and show everyone that I am indeed struggling. I am fighting for my life right now. A life I want to live and I live that I have been greatly blessed in. I have a very dysfunctional family that I wouldn’t trade for the world. They’re my biggest support system and despite not always seeing eye to eye, they have NEVER let me be alone in anything I do. I’ve also managed to be blessed on the friend front. I have somehow managed to find some of the most amazing individuals who support and understand me. They check on me regularly and love me endlessly. I haven’t been the best or greatest friend lately and ultimately I know everyone will understand and accept it. Depression and anxiety are a hell of a beast.
The whole purpose of this post is to let others know that the taboo of discussing your depression and anxiety is not okay. Tell someone what you’re going through. Don’t put up a facade. I can not reiterate enough that it is OKAY TO NOT BE OKAY!!! Go to counseling and don’t be ashamed of it. When someone asks “are you okay” say no. This post was not for attention but for help. I want my words and my story to be read by someone who also has days where getting out of bed seems like the hardest thing they’ve ever had to do. I want them to know that being open and honest about struggling is perfectly normal. I want my story and my words to help. I want people to know what I am actually feeling and going through. That social norms and expectations set by society and social media are not how we have to live life. That it’s okay to feel sad and to try to get help for that. That by taking care of yourself you will let others down and you don’t owe anyone an explanation when that happens. For those of you that sometimes feel like giving up, don’t. Keep pushing. Keep trying. Find your meaning. Your soul satisfying moments and relish those. Keep fighting that deep dark spiral that is depression even when you feel like you can’t. Take mental health days and don’t feel guilty. Cry in the shower or on the bathroom floor. Feel it and learn to let it go. Continue to move forward even if it’s at the pace of the tortoise not the hare.
Well, here it is, my month, the month of June. At the beginning of the year I had set goals for each month, some of which I achieved and some I fell short of, but June’s goal was a month of me. A month of self-care and being selfish. I thought it was a perfect fit for my birth month and now that it has arrived I realize I need it more than ever.
The last few weeks, months, I’ve been busy. If and when I have had downtime I find myself overthinking and over-committing. I have managed to keep my schedule full and my focus on myself at a minimum. I have got to remember that being busy is not a personality trait and it is not how I want someone to describe me. I don’t want to keep myself constantly going and not enjoy the little things. I don’t want to give someone the wrong impression of myself because I am too busy. I have got to stop neglecting myself. My wants and my needs. I need to slow down. I always get caught up in whatever is going on around me and silence the voice in my head telling me to calm the f down!
As of late when I do have downtime I keep finding myself mindlessly scrolling through social media. This is such a negative way to spend my time. I find myself comparing myself to my peers and getting stressed. I should be doing things that promote my mental health, my well being, and myself rather than stress me out and cause me to over analyze things. So, starting today, I am removing all my social media apps from my phone. Well, it’s only Facebook and Instagram, but they’re being silenced for a while. Not having them at my fingertips will hopefully encourage me to spend my free time more productively. I have also been thinking about how I don’t need to be so readily available. I want to maintain some mystery. I am selective with what I post and write, but I have decided to be a little more in the moment than on the screen. If you want to know what is going on in my life you will have to text or call me. We will have to have a proper conversation, make plans, or hell do something spur of the moment. But if you want to be in my life then effort will have to be made. No more play by play on social media.
I am going to spend more time focusing on me and less time apologizing for it. I am going to make myself a priority this month. Staying in more to get rest. Spending less money. Working two jobs to pay off my credit card and to save. Actively working on getting things together for my move. Reading at least one of the books I have in my “to read” pile. Cooking more since I genuinely love cooking. Eating healthier and drinking more water. Exercising with my girls Lilly and Ellie! Spending time with those who make my soul happy. Spending more time outdoors AND most of all doing WHATEVER I want on my birthday. It’ll involve sushi and being on the water of course. I keep telling myself I am going to do more for myself, focus on self-care, and I don’t. I get wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of life and trying to the best friend, daughter, sister, employee, etc., I can be. So, I am vowing to myself for this whole month to focus on MYSELF! I already spent the first 4 days working, cleaning, cooking and watching a totally cheesy Netflix show.
Self-care isn’t always about face masks, bubble baths, getting your hair done or pedicures. Although I will be doing all of those things this month…it is my birthday and all. It’s about making sure you are mentally, emotionally, and physically in your healthiest and happiest state. It is making sure you are taken care of and your heart is full. I have been neglecting myself. While I have been pushing myself out of my comfort zone in many aspects that past few weeks, opening myself up to new opportunities, and making big changes. I haven’t taken a step back to figure out how it is affecting me. I have been putting others first, which isn’t a bad thing, but I have to remember that my well being is most important. Being selfless is wonderful as long as you don’t lose yourself. I tend to lose myself in trying to be the person everyone needs me to be and not be the person I need to be for myself.
I am letting the month of June and the last birthday I voluntarily celebrate(29 forever club) bring the opportunity to modify a few things in my life. I am also letting it bring a month full of celebrating and using the excuse, “Well it’s my birthday so…” While I love writing and sharing my life with those I love, taking this break from oversharing and living more in the moment seems to be the right thing for me at this time. I hope everyone enjoys the month of the summer solstice. And if you see me this month looking a hot mess or having a little too much fun just remember…its the month of me. I am not trying to impress anyone, just doing what I want to do!
Sitting here waiting on my parents to arrive for dinner, I was actually on time for once, and I find myself thinking…”Holy shit! You’re about to be 29!” Where did my twenties go? This panic has set in a few times over the past 5 months.
Where did my twenties go? Why did I think I had all this time to accomplish things? Why am I so unsatisfied with where I am at in life right now? Did I even do anything meaningful in my twenties? Questions like these have been plaguing me and leading to what I can only assume is an existential crisis. Quarter life crises are played out. I’m taking this one to a whole nother level.
Existential crisis is also known as that moment when one questions if their life has meaning, purpose or value. I’d say mine definitely started brewing after my brush with death in November. I started thinking about what if I wouldn’t have been lucky enough to have my defibrillator? Would my short time on earth have made a difference? Have I made a difference to anyone other than those genetically programmed to love me? With these circumstances and 30 looming around the corner, I find myself pondering the deeper questions in life.
Recently I had someone ask me what the one thing I wanted from life was and I did not even have to think about it before responding. I want to make a difference. I couldn’t figure out exactly how to communicate it at the time, it was late and there had been drinks involved, but after thinking about that conversation I now know how to convey exactly what I meant. I want to make a difference, not in the sense of changing the world, but in helping others. I hope that my kindness, vulnerability, empathy and hopefully my words can make a difference to someone. To help them in their journey through life.
How do I go about doing that? How do I figure out what I want to do in this life that will help me achieve my goal in life? I thought it was Nursing. To be a good nurse, the kind of nurse that makes being in the hospital bearable. My health made it clear that that wasn’t it and now here I sit almost 29 feeling a little lost. Do I continue to write and eventually write a novel? Do I work to eventually open my own book and record store, since books and music are things that changed my life? Do I work for a charity like the American Heart Association? Do I move or do I stay in my comfort zone? How do I figure out the answers?
In January I had someone recommend the book 30 before 30. As I have slowly read this over the past few weeks I have been all over the map. I have related to the author, been inspired by the author and been envious of the author. She writes about how she made a mess of her twenties and accomplished all these small goals she set for herself. While reading this book in public I get unsolicited advice from strangers like, “Don’t worry your twenties are for figuring things out.” First of all, this isn’t a self-help book and what exactly are we figuring out in our twenties? Did I do my twenties right? Did I make a big enough mess? Did I accomplish enough? Does anyone else feel this way?
I spent my twenties in serious relationships and having heart surgery. Reflecting on my twenties I guess I can say I have realized just how strong I am. I was put through emotional and physical hell with 5 separate heart surgeries, all differing in severity, and I overcame every obstacle thrown my way. I never gave up and I continue to fight to be the healthiest version of myself. I don’t accept the answer “no” from my doctors. I loved with all my heart and in two completely different ways, two people. I learned to let go and how to take time to heal from hurt. I learned to be careful with who I trust and what I won’t put up with. I learned that sometimes the tough decision is the right decision. I learned what a broken heart feels like and how cold the bathroom floor is at 3AM when you’re sobbing and wondering why someone doesn’t love you. Most importantly, I have learned how to forgive and grow from disappointment.
I have all these questions heavy on my mind and heart as I approach my golden birthday and I have the typical late twenty-something shit going on too. Will I be forever alone? Is there anyone worthwhile to date? Do I have too much baggage? Why am I dissatisfied with my job? Do you ever feel like an adult? Being single at 29 was definitely not where I thought I would be when I celebrated my 20th birthday with my new boyfriend. My ability to self-sabotage relationships at this point in my life is uncanny. I seem to either put my foot in my mouth or retreat into my shell (there is your turtle joke, Alexandra!) and become too nervous to be myself, to text or call first, or to innitiate anything. Navigating your late twenties trying to figure out when you’re supposed to feel like an adult and how to act like one blows. I feel stuck in a transitional state. Every decision I make has so much weight to it now.
All of this being said, or written out… whatever, it has made me decide to develop my own list of 30 before 30 goals. Some big, some small and some that may seem silly to others, but they’re my goals. My goals to make sure I successfully make a mess of my twenties and figure things out. In the last year of my twenties I’ll be bolder. I’ll fight my fear and text or call first. I’ll live a little more, unapologetically. I want to be able to go into my 30’s and know that I made the most of my twenties. Take this last year by the horns and “figure things out.” Maybe answer the question of what can I do to make a difference? It may seem like a silly goal to some, maybe naive or make me seem like a dreamer, but I don’t think that being a good person who wants to help others is a silly dream.
Since people relate to and like photos. Here are some photos of some of my birthday celebrations through out my twenties for your viewing pleasure…enjoy
My writers block has been beyond awful lately. I’ve tried writing in different settings, with music, without music, after drinking a pretty full glass of wine, inside, outside and many other scenarios. I’ve felt rather uninspired. Earlier today I was attempting to write about accountability and after trashing 7 attempts, I gave up. I’ve had a few conversations with a dear friend, recently, on what my writing is to me and what I want this blog to be. I don’t want to be a fitness blogger, a fashion blogger, and I don’t want to be an “influencer”, whatever the hell that really is? I would loosely classify this as a lifestyle blog. If you read my writing you’re not going to find ways to be better organized, you’re not going to find the perfect dips to make for a party, and you’re not going to find the cutest new shoes that are a must-have. Y’all are lucky if y’all are going to see me in anything other than a casual tee shirt and shorts this summer. Instead, you’re going to find blog posts about the stuff that goes on behind the scenes in life, like holding yourself accountable, personal growth, mourning the loss of a loved one, health issues, dating dilemmas, and mental health. A lot of the issues people want to talk about but are scared of or don’t know how. I’ve finally reached the point in life where I’m not afraid to be honest. Where I’ve figured out who I am and I’ve accepted her in all her glory. The person I’ve grown into the past few years is someone I never realized I wanted to be, but couldn’t be happier that I am.
Now 15-year-old Madelyn had this, insanely detailed, picture in her head of what life would be like at 28. I had this image of me standing in my doorway of a cookie cutter house, with a baby in my arms, watching my husband and daughter play in the yard. I’d have a dog and a goldfish. I’d be insanely happy with a successful career. Obviously 13 years later I’ve missed every opportunity to have that life 😂. To be quite honest I am glad I did because I am not the person that would be content in that life. At one point, around 26, I had a moment of panic when I realized this wasn’t where my life was going. As happy as I am with who I am now and the growth I’ve made in my twenties, I have moments of self-doubt and panic. I have moments where anxiety grabs a hold of me and I feel out of control.
Today my anxiety reared its ugly head. Self-doubt crept in and I found myself on edge. I found myself asking, “what if I’m not good enough?” In those moments I could think of a million different things to make me feel unworthy. Unworthy of someone’s attention, unworthy of the job I want, unworthy of admiration, unworthy of anything. I found myself overthinking, something I do far too often, and could feel panic set in. I came home and cleaned. Usually, cleaning helps calm me down but no luck. I went to the grocery store and as I stood in the produce section I lost it. I couldn’t breathe and I could feel tears welling up in my eyes. I was the lady trying to put veggies in her cart with tears streaming down her cheeks. I’m sure I looked insane and I certainly felt it. As I found myself on the verge of a full-blown panic attack in Publix, I left quickly and loaded my car up. Now if cleaning doesn’t help then retail therapy usually does. My budget doesn’t allow for much retail therapy but I thought I’d try it before I reached hysterics. I walked into books a million and tried to pick out a book. Now if you know me on a personal level then you know I LOVE a bookstore and a good book. Yeah, I left empty-handed and listened to The Smiths my whole way home, if that doesn’t set the mood for ya then I don’t know how else to explain it. I decided to go for a run. Running is always a great stress reliever for me and I can usually clear my head. Pushed myself and got my heart rate up a little too high, my bad, only to find a tiny sense of relief. Now I sit soaking in a bubble bath, drinking hot tea, and attempting to write in order to feel better. Yes, writing on my phone in the tub not the brightest idea, but oh well. I need to express myself some way and this usually helps. 🤷🏻♀️
Y’all, I am FAR from perfect. I have days like today for no reason I get anxious, over think, and silently cry in the produce section. I have days where I stand surveying myself in the mirror thinking, “If only your hips weren’t so wide” or “If you could just lose that little fluff right here.” I have goals I am steadily striving for and I am not in the same place as many of my peers. My path is different and I’m okay with that, but some days I find myself comparing myself to my peers and I experience immense self-doubt. I have days where I have to go on a run in order to be able to think straight. Nights where I lay awake staring at the ceiling and wonder why I am in the place where I am. Everyone has anxiety at times or experiences self-doubt. We all compare ourselves to our peers, or over think. We all experience some form of body dysmorphia. And can find ourselves questioning why is this happening? Why now in this moment? Why me? But we don’t talk about it. We sweep it under the rug, we bottle it up, or we dismiss it in fear. Fear of being viewed as ”crazy.” I’m sure I’ll have people read this and think, “This bitch is crazy. She cried in the produce section at Publix on a Monday.” Yeah well some of us aren’t perfect.
I’m not crazy. I’m stressed and I’m human. I question if I make the right decisions. I’ve let others control how I have viewed my self worth. I’ve made mistakes and I experience anxiety. The thing is, I am not afraid to talk about it. Mental health is important. Mental health can play a huge role in your physical health. I don’t know why there is such a stigma regarding mental health when it’s something we all deal with daily?!
Y’all, talk about your shit. Don’t be afraid to put it out there. Get it out!
Now, since I’ve put my crazy on the front porch for all to see, it’s time for me to put on a onesie, drink some wine, and eat my feelings in the form of carbs. Y’all go on about your business people!
Here we are in April. Spring is in full effect and with it, change is in the air. Something about warmer weather, April showers and longer days makes me feel like all things are possible. Many exciting things are happening this month; Game of Thrones, Easter and I’m getting in with a new specialist to determine if surgery number 9 will be necessary. One of the biggest things, for me, in April is the week of the 21st-27th.
The week of the 21st-27th is National Infertility Awareness Week. World infertility awareness is in June, but I wanted to address it this month instead. Infertility affects men and women. 1 in 8 people suffer from infertility of some sort and only 15 out of the 50 states have insurance coverage for it.
If you’ve followed my blog posts, or know me personally, you know that I suffer from infertility. I suffer from ovarian failure and wrote about it back in September because one of my dear friends, who had a VERY hard time conceiving, was finally about to give birth and my sister had just told me she was expecting. The harsh reality of never being able to have my own children hit me hard that week. I was definitely caught up in my feelings, so I wrote about it to help sort things out. That was the most personal post I had written at the time and I found it to be insanely rewarding to share. That blog post got some serious recognition and reached TONS of people. I am still getting messages from strangers about it. So, I thought why not raise some more awareness?
When my sister and her husband told me they were pregnant I was so happy I wanted to cry. I actually did cry tears of joy when I got in my car. Now, I knew this news would be coming because they were wanting to get pregnant, but I was still so surprised and excited. Why did I choose to cry in my car rather than share my emotions with my sister? I chose to cry in my car because I knew after the tears of joy the tears of sadness would come rolling down. Once I was home I ugly cried where no one could see me. I’m not telling everyone this because I want your pity. I want people to understand what living with infertility is like. I could NOT be happier and more excited that my sister is having a baby. Y’all, I can NOT wait to hold my niece in my arms and tell her how much I love her already, but at the same time, I am sad.
I’m sad for myself and for women all over who understand this sadness. I don’t want friends or family to feel weird telling me when they’re expecting. I don’t want them to think that they have to deliver the news delicately. I’m not going to break down crying in front of you and curse the universe. I’m going to celebrate with you and be there supporting you throughout it all. I am going to love your child unconditionally. I will, however, in private, process my emotions of envy.
I will never experience that first time the baby moves in the womb or has hiccups. I won’t understand what it’s like to not be able to breathe because everything has shifted internally and my belly is expanding (right now I only feel that when I eat too many tacos). I won’t experience the pain of childbirth or breastfeeding. I will be envious of your journey throughout all of it. At times I may be jealous, but I never want someone to feel they can’t share their experience with me because I can’t have kids.
As a woman being told you can not have your own kids is soul crushing. You can not do the one thing you are biologically meant to do. Being told bluntly at 20 years young is harder than you could ever realize. I was at the age where I was still starry-eyed and naive. I had all of these plans for my life that I was going to accomplish and had yet to discover life had different plans. This was my first wake up call in that department. My biggest dream for myself was to be a mother. I wanted to be a mother like my own. One that encouraged me to be myself no matter what anyone else thought. One that would go without just so I could have what I wanted or needed. One who wasn’t perfect and showed me that it was okay to not be perfect. I wanted to raise children with my sisters and share stories and experiences about motherhood with them. The sense of utter failure I developed after being diagnosed was something I can not accurately describe. It’s been just shy of 9 years since being diagnosed and I still struggle to be okay with it to this day.
There is a sense of obligation to immediately tell anyone whom you are seeing and see a potential future with, “Hey just so you know my womb is barren!” Dating in your late twenties/early thirties is hard enough. Everyone has baggage at this point they’re bringing to the table and when you bring a bag full of bricks like infertility to the table, well it can be a deal breaker. This makes it discouraging to date. You hope and pray that you eventually find someone who will think life with just you is enough because sometimes IVF or adoption is too expensive or isn’t an option. Infertility is draining.
The depression that comes with your diagnosis…Lord. My doctor recommended therapy after I found out. At the time I thought I would just process this on my own. It wasn’t as big of a deal until I got older. Once your friends start having children and you experience that first breakdown because it hits you that that will never be you. I felt guilty for feeling sad for myself. I’ve since gone to therapy to try to process it, to become content with it. Most days I am fine. I know I will be fun Aunt Madelyn and I am totally okay with that role. It wasn’t until I found out my sister was pregnant that I started to feel sad again.
After Devon and Kyle told me the exciting news and I ugly cried on my stairs for a solid 45 minutes. I confused the hell out of my dogs sitting there sobbing, those poor babies, I felt immense guilt. I shouldn’t be feeling sorry for myself, I should be celebrating. I let it all go, or so I thought. Months went by and I went to the first appointment with them, I felt my niece kick, and I started planning my sister’s baby shower. A little backstory here, my sister is AMAZING, y’all. I’m sure everyone thinks that about their sister, but it is more than that when it comes to Devon. She still scares the hell out of me. One of my biggest fears in life is that I will disappoint her or let her down. She has the biggest heart and always goes above and beyond for others. She is the hardest worker I know and she loves even harder. Devon has hosted many a baby shower for her friends and poured herself into making sure everything was just right. Therefore, I knew this had to be perfect for her. I spent 3 months planning, coordinating and crafting. I was putting myself under an extreme amount of pressure and stressing myself out beyond belief.
Two days before the shower I was agitated with myself, so much so, that I cried the whole way home from buying succulents for centerpieces. I essentially put myself in timeout. I avoided the rest of the tasks I planned to tackle that night, took a shower and went to bed. The next day while reprimanding myself for being so damn emotional it hit me. Why was I making such a big deal out of this? Why did it have to be perfect? Well you see, this is the closest thing I’ll ever get to having a baby shower. It is the only one that my mom will be the Nana-to-be at. It is the only time Devon and I will share this experience. It was such a big deal to me because of my infertility. Once the shower was over I felt relieved and then the guilt crept in. I felt guilty because once again I found myself jealous of Devon. I could not have done this without the help of the lovely ladies below and I am sorry if I was annoying or overbearing when it came to planning. Hopefully, now you guys understand why I got a little OCD about the shower.
Infertility doesn’t come with a handbook. It comes with feeling distraught and depressed. It comes with hormone treatments and a price tag. It comes with a sense of failure and pangs of guilt. It comes in waves. Some days, weeks, or months you’re content and others you feel like you’re the only one missing out on the joy of motherhood. So the week of April 21st-27th is a big deal to me. It means more to me than it does to most. I will, personally, never go through IVF treatment and have repeated negative pregnancy tests, because I know I have infertility due to ovarian failure. So, to those women who put their bodies through hell and have yet to get pregnant…keep your faith. Stay positive and remember that even if you never get pregnant it will be okay. It seems like the end of the world, but I can promise you it isn’t. Remember, adoption is a beautiful thing and doesn’t make someone less of a mother. To those of you going through the adoption process, I have the utmost respect for you. Adoption may never be an option for me either because adoption agencies aren’t too keen on giving a baby to someone with heart failure and I am okay with that. But, those of you waiting and getting discouraged, be patient. Your child is out there and you will get a chance to be a parent. And to those of you who know you may never be a parent…YOU ARE NOT ALONE! I may only be a dog mom and in the end, that is okay. Ladies, when you find yourself sad, feeling sorry for yourself, or feeling guilty, FEEL IT! It is okay to feel those things. It is normal and we are only human. Don’t let anyone let you feel bad about not being a mom. Don’t feel ashamed if you have to take antidepressants, go to therapy or if you decide you need to change your whole life because of your diagnosis. No one completely understands what it feels like until it is them and you don’t have to explain yourself. Hold your head high the week of April 21st-27th and know that other women are in the same boat as you, a boat that no one wants to be in but one in which you are not alone.
My friends and family that have been patient and supportive, THANK YOU. Thank you for considering my feelings when you got exciting news and when you were sharing it, but next time don’t worry about me. I will be just fine. And Devon, thank you for going to my appointments with me, thank you for verbally assaulting the doctor that basically told me I was being a hypochondriac, thank you for letting me be so involved in this pregnancy. I love you more than I’ll ever be able to express. I couldn’t be more thankful for you understanding that this is as close as I will get to having my own child and for you to understand what that means to me. The kind of sister, daughter, and friend you are is why I know you are going to be the BEST mother to Cadence.
In September I wrote about feeling off-kilter, unbalanced. I needed to clear my head and do some soul searching. So I went camping. I wrote about driving through Cape San Blas with the windows down, sun on my skin and singing along to one of my favorite songs with conviction. About how at that moment, while I was terribly belting my soul out, I had something similar to an epiphany. I had this realization that everything was about to change. Something big was going to happen and I just needed to be patient. I realized the universe was telling me I needed to slow down a little and I did not take the universes advice to slow down. I had no idea what was actually in store for me.
Something big certainly was brewing. It has taken me just over 2 months to really process the fact that my heart stopped. It took a few weeks for the reality of it to really set in. I’ve talked about it, wrote about it, cried about it and all together tried to ignore it. While it was terrifying and I live in constant fear that it will happen again, it has been the push I needed. I wanted to make changes but wasn’t following through with my actions. I was making excuses and still expecting big changes. I wasn’t holding myself accountable. I have since come to the realization that you have to start small for there to be any change. You can’t always dive into the big things. Sometimes you need to prepare yourself first.
I went to New York at the beginning of December and fell in love. As I was walking through the city taking everything in, I felt electric. For the first time, I felt truly comfortable in my own skin. Despite the hustle and bustle of New York, I was oddly at home and not overwhelmed. My last night there, while getting my groove on at the Roosevelt concert, Jesica looked at me and said, “Let’s move! Look at everyone. The lifestyle is different here. I want this lifestyle. I want change.” Well, girl, you may have been drunk, but you were speaking exactly what was on my mind. All I’ve been able to think about since that trip is going back to live the city life.
After leaving New York getting back to reality was tough for me. My mind wandered and all I could do was daydream about moving. Life was feeling mundane. It had been just over a month since getting shocked and I knew that this was my chance for big change. I, essentially, defied death and was given another opportunity to do something. So, I started small.
Over the years I’ve been told and have read that to start making a difference you should start with making your bed EVERY morning. So, I started by making my bed EVERY morning. This probably seems minuscule, but it makes a HUGE difference for me. I have always been guilty of not making my bed or putting clean clothes away immediately. Something small, but it was something that caused clutter and chaos. It was unnecessary stress. I’ve now been making my bed every morning for over a month and it has become second nature to make it as soon as I get the dogs out of it in the mornings. I’m also putting my laundry up as soon as it’s done. These two simple tasks have surprisingly eased stress I didn’t realize I had.
I’m not going to lie, I’ve been feeling really proud of myself with taking small steps. So, I decided little changes would be how I make my big changes this year. I’ve set a few big goals for myself to accomplish this year, but I now know I need to set little ones to help me get to where I want to be. I am finding that for me to able to hold myself accountable, I have to put my goals out there for the world to see. If I write them down just for me it is easier to let myself down and make excuses. However, if all of you are aware then it adds a little extra pressure and well I work well when under pressure.
So here are my monthly goals for 2019:
January- After experiencing the relief of stress from making my bed and putting clean clothes away immediately, I decided to de-clutter. Not just my belongings, but also my personal and social life. I dropped the number of classes I was taking this semester down to two so that I could focus on and absorb the information better. I am reading “The life-changing magic of tidying up” by Marie Kondo. I am also watching her show on Netflix. I am going through each room/closet and purging. It’s rather rewarding, but learning how to fold my laundry differently has been a task. I am also saying NO to things that I don’t really want to do/attend. That don’t bring me joy. I am also doing things like purging unused apps and contacts on my phone. Purging friend lists. January my goal is to de-clutter and I am working diligently at achieving this goal.
February- NO SOCIAL MEDIA! My goal for February is to be more present in what is actually happening vs social media. I spend too much time distracted by social media and I need to stop saying, “I’ll take a break later.” I am doing it now. February 1st all social media apps will be deleted off my phone. I’m going to do a full 30 days of nothing. I’ll work on writing for my book. I’ll stay focused on homework. I’ll be present in social settings instead of reaching for my phone.
March- Whole 30! I did it for 22 days once before and now I am going to do it for the whole 30 days. I am going to complete it, no excuses. I figure after a good social media detox I should do an actual detox. I’ve had friends who have had wonderful results and it’s helped them get their body back to a healthy place. I think the hardest part for me will be no mashed potatoes for 30days 😫.
April- April will be my fitness month. After getting my body to a clean and healthy state internally, introducing all those “bad” foods again could backfire. I figure I’ll need to get my body in a healthy state externally and stay on top of the lbs those bad foods will add on. I try to stay in decent shape as it is. I jog/run regularly, but I’ll be getting back into Pure Barre and staying dedicated. Pure Barre was something I fell in love with but couldn’t do with my schedule this past semester. It’s a damn good workout, that I can kind of do, and it makes my booty look realllll nice 🍑. So a solid 30 days of actively participating in PB. I’ll gladly accept a workout buddy to go look ridiculous with me! Hopefully, there will be another pop on the beach because that was one of my favorite classes!
May- I am going to do a 30-day writing challenge that was encouraged by one of my professors this past semester. I decided I would self publish one of the books I have been working on this year and to focus on growing as a writer. This will be one small step to help me strengthen my writing. My professor told me to master my craft I need to do it EVERYDAY. I try to write every day, but sometimes time gets away from me. This will force me to write every day and make it a habit. Remember doing something consistently for 4 weeks is how something becomes a habit. Expect a lot of blogs to come your way in May!
June- June is my month of ME! Being my birth month I decide June was going to be a month of self-love and self-care. I am going to do more things that I don’t make time for when it comes to myself. I am usually one to put others before me. It’s my nature and I put myself on the back burner. Well in June I will put myself first as I ring in the last year of my twenties. I will make sure to carve out at least one hour a day for myself. No phone, just me, and do what I want to do. I will do things I’ve been putting off. Self-love and mental health are important, that is why my birth month will be all about ME!
I am only doing 6 months of small goals at a time. I’ll reassess and see what I need to do in order to get me where I want to be by the end of the year. Life happens and plans change. It is more realistic to only set a few at a time. This way I don’t set myself up for failure. These small goals may seem silly to some of you, but they make sense for me right now. I’ve finally accepted that my timeline is my own and I am done comparing myself to others. I am comfortable in my own skin again and content with the progress I am making. I have set big goals this year for myself. Here is a few:
1) Self publish my first book
2) Actually, move out of Okaloosa County
3) Read and write more!
I picked a reading challenge for 2019 and I’ve already started it.
I’ll gladly take recommendations on must reads!
This week everyone has been posting this whole 10-year challenge of social media and it’s made me chuckle. I don’t so much care about how different I look from 10 years ago, as I do about the person I am today vs 10 years ago. But for the hell of it….here ya go!
Me 10 years later
Thank goodness I let go of my need to be a blonde 😂🤦🏻♀️. But my change in appearance isn’t what ultimately matters. I hope everyone takes the time to encourage personal growth and hold themselves accountable for the changes they want to occur in 2019. Set small goals that will help you achieve your big goals. Stop comparing yourself to others. There is no rush, just because one of your peers has achieved what you want already does not mean you need to rush to get there. Enjoy the journey. I definitely am slowing down this year and enjoying things more. You can have fun and work hard. It is possible.