Today, I realized something so life-changing and profound. 

I don’t know what will come of it; I just know that I am smiling in the middle of chaos in our nation and I feel peace. Love is what matters and just because there is chaos doesn’t mean that love can’t crash in to heal all the craziness. 

For the first time, I grieved losing me. Not because someone coerced or changed who I was. I’ve always had choices, and I’ve made every single one of them. Not because I was damaged or broken through cancer or abuse. No… I allowed myself to be afraid of so much that I struggled to find my authentic self and to be transparent to others. 

I worried what friends or family thought of me if things did not turn out the way they wanted. I worried so much that I lost my authenticity for a long time. All the things we go through, every trial that we think stains us, the lies others sell us about ourselves. 

I know who I am, and was reminded especially the last two days of how much happiness I deserve. I write about happiness and gratitude, but it’s not easy all the time to feel it. I feel like I finally found the key to holding onto joy and gratitude longer! I accept who I am.  I have amazing friends and family, and I will not buy into a bad version of someone else’s perception of me ever again. I will listen and understand that we all see differently depending on where we are on that leg of our journey in life. 

I feel the same as when I was 16: a little goofy, sensitive, brave and inquisitive. I liked me. I lived carefree, but I was also considerate and respectful. I broke the rules and learned lessons, but it did not mean I was bad. I know who I am. I had dreams that seemed possible. I believed in the biggest kind of love and felt I deserved it.

It hit me so hard tonight (maybe it was all the extra prayers, the new year, or just so much loss) to show me how short life is and to see the preciousness in each other. As I cried, it was the first time I felt happiness and sadness at the same time. I felt a lie slipping away and love taking its place. I felt loved, and I saw me again. 

I had no more tears from a broken heart, for death, loneliness, or any of the things that bring any of us to tears. I felt fear being replaced with peace. I now feel like I was never lost, simply ignoring who I was so long ago. 

I am not ashamed of my tears, laughter, frustration, or anger. I feel blessed to “feel.” 
 I no longer feel horrible if anyone disapproves of me.  You are so unique and do not need to worry if you stack up to someone else. You never will, that’s how unique you are! There is never going to be another you. So, be great at being you!

I did not want to lose this feeling, and I hope it helps even one person who has been criticized or judged by loved ones. If you feel pulled in different directions and find you might not be able to please everyone, stop! Be you. Grab hold of a journal and write about who you are your hopes and dreams. Write it all. Your identity resides within your soul, and your soul is waiting for direction, so go for everything you deserve and LOVE. Don’t judge others because they are not like you. Use discernment but live true.