As my 25th birthday is quickly approaching I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my life up to this point. I have had high points and low points but I honestly cannot say that I could have ever imagined being as in love with my life as I am now. I hear people say all the time that “when I’m ____ years old, I’ll have my life together and I will finally be happy” and that used to be me too! I was constantly searching for the ways that I could fill the spaces that were empty in my life and check off those things that I thought would make me happy. But every time I seemed to find something that checked off one of those boxes, I was always opening up a spot for something else. It was like no matter what I did, or what I had it wasn’t going to be good enough. I always needed something else, and I felt like I was never going to be happy. But what I didn’t realize was that happiness is not something that I can feel because I have X,Y and Z all checked off on some list. Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life.
I’m going to take a step back for a minute and fill some of you in on a few details of the past 25 years of my life. My parents are divorced, and have been since I was very young (I don’t even remember ever seeing my parents together) and being part of a divorce, whether child or parent, is never easy. I spent summers and holidays flying back and forth from one family to the other and everything I ever did and/or wanted to do was not really my choice. When I was younger I would cry because I missed my dad when I was with my mother and I would cry because I missed my mother when I was with my dad, but I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. On one hand, my father got re-married and I gained two new step-siblings; and on the other hand, my mother got re-married and I would gain two new half-siblings, but where does that leave me? Where am I supposed to fit in? It is such a strange feeling knowing that you are loved (because whose parents don’t love them, right?) but not feeling like you really fit in.
Fast forward to when I was a little bit older (think pre-teen), I began to realize that I was constantly being lied to by my mother. Whether she was saying she called but she didn’t or my Christmas packages would arrive around Easter time. I just didn’t understand why her story wouldn’t add up. My mother would tell me that my dad must have deleted her phone calls or taken my packages and that he was just trying to keep me from her; and as a young girl who wanted so desperately to feel loved by her mother, I believed her. Over the years I would continue to be disappointed by my mother over and over again. Bless my father/grandfather/grandmother/family because they never, I mean NEVER, said a bad thing to me about my mother. No matter what the situation or what was said one way or the other, they wanted to make sure I formed my own opinions about her. They would try to make up excuses for her telling me that maybe she forgot to send the package or that she got busy and forgot she didn’t call. But as time went on and as I got older I began to realize that these were just excuses and all that ever came from my mother was empty promises. From missed birthdays to missed family vacations I learned to not trust what I was told by my mother. But no matter how hard I tried, part of me still wanted to believe that she cared; I wanted to believe that I was important to her. I kept giving my mother more chances to prove me wrong, to show me that she cared and guess what, she never did. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned up to this point in my life, is that there is a difference between giving up and realizing that I have had enough. And let me tell you I had, certainly had enough.
Last year in March, I was so fortunate to be able to attend an amazing event hosted by Tony Robbins. I know, I know, you’ve probably already heard all about him. But I promise this isn’t some kumbaya all about how it changed my life, but more so how I used what Tony Robbins teaches that helped me. After spending 3 days being empowered and uplifted by his words of positivity and encouragement I realized I was never going to be happy living like I was. I consistently put up with being treated like I wasn’t worth anything to anyone. I always would do whatever people asked of me without even taking a breath because I had always learned to put others before myself. In feeling like I didn’t belong, I learned to think my feelings were unimportant compared to what everyone else was going through and that how I felt about things did not matter. Yeah, my parents are divorced, but at least I wasn’t being physically abused. Yeah, I never got to spend alone time with my father after he got re-married, but at least my dad was happy. Yeah, I don’t really feel like I belong, but at least I have a roof over my head.The list could go on and on, but that is not the point.
The point is that I never realized how little value I put on myself until I took a step back and looked at how unhappy I was with my life. I was unhappy because I was letting myself be unhappy. I was unhappy because I was focusing on all the things that ‘sucked’ in my life. There are so many amazing things to be grateful, and here I was constantly having a pity party because life wasn’t going my way. So, I decided that I had had enough and that I would no longer allow myself to settle for feeling unworthy and unwanted. Feeling all high and mighty with my new found (tiny) bought of confidence, I decided to let my mother know exactly how she was making me feel. And guess what? She told me that I was ungrateful, that these feelings were all in my head and that I was letting her down with my life choices. And then she kicked me out of her house. When I finally had decided that I had had enough, and wanted her to put forth even a fraction of the effort I had put forth over all these years, she couldn’t do it. Which meant that I was right, I wasn’t important to her. And the worst part was, that it didn’t make me feel any better!
I thought that I was supposed to feel better because she did exactly what I expected her to? But I just felt even more worthless, she really never wanted me or respected me. I truly have never felt more emotionally, physically or spiritually drained but that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. You see the thing is that when you hit that rock bottom, and you feel like your life really can’t get any worse: your mother disowned you, you have no place to live, your entire existence is in 5 cardboard boxes in someone’s garage; your perspective begins to change. You start to see all the possibilities that life has to offer. You realize that you never really felt like you were worth anything, but choosing yourself over someone else’s idea of who you were supposed to be obviously means you’re worth something. I started to work on myself and becoming the person that I wanted to be: kind, outgoing, adventurous, loving, spontaneous. I am so glad that I did, because I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t have made that choice.
Now I am not going to sit here and act like it was all picture perfect, because it wasn’t (just ask Justin). It was, and still is, a huge work in progress. I have my good days and I have my bad. But through consistent personal development, long talks with Justin and some good long cry’s, I have begun to shape my life into one that I love. Every single day I am happy to wake up and see whatever adventure life has in store for us today. I am so lucky to have such amazing peoples in my life. Justin is such a positive person, he has helped me to focus on the good in every situation, realize that it is okay to not be perfect and has shown me more love than I could have ever imagined. And I cannot forget my father and my grandparents that have always been so encouraging and supportive, always rooting for my success and happiness whatever that may be at the time. I am forever grateful to know that I will always be loved. You see, when you begin to focus on the good, the good just keeps getting better.
So here’s to turning 25 and seeing what adventure comes next!