In The Name Of Thanks

Understand the right to choose your own path is a sacred privilege. Use it. Dwell in possibility. –Oprah

In September of 2013, I opened my first ever blog post with the above quote. The notion of choosing my own path was one I was just awakening to and it was something I was just beginning to believe I might be able to do. The words in that quote filled me with hope. They instilled within me a deep need to see where I could go. Was anything really possible?

At the time of my first few posts, I never had any intention of sharing my blog with friends and family. I just wanted to try blogging and see if it was any fun. I was never going to show it to anyone. I could never be that vulnerable. I had no idea what I was doing and I certainly didn’t think it was going to be any good. I just wanted an outlet; a way to share my trials and tribulations while I navigated this thing called life.

At this blog’s inception, I was twenty-six and trying to pull myself out of a deep darkness. I struggled with anxiety and depression, had given up alcohol three months earlier, and was knee-deep in dealing with the repercussions from a variety of poor life decisions. I possessed very little hope for myself and nothing about my life was what I had imagined it would be at that age. The one positive was that I was beginning to dream up new dreams and was working tirelessly, day in and day out, to make them into a reality. Out of that, 26 and Stumbling was born.

I’ve always felt driven to write. Writing lights me up from the inside out. It excites me. It fills me with passion. It infuses me with emotion. After I have written something, I feel more whole than I was to begin with. As I let the words tumble out of me, fingers flying across the keyboard, I feel awake and completely tuned in. It’s like there is nothing else going on in the whole world except for the creation of words, character by character, on the blank screen in front of me. Time seems to pause.

I created my blog during a time of intense self-discovery and out of a desperate desire for better things to take shape. Creating this blog lifted me up. The writing began to heal me. Writing allowed me to show parts of myself to the world that I never thought I would be okay with revealing. It helped me to work through shame and to be vulnerable.

Writing makes me braver and stronger. I most often write in the hope of inspiring others and to connect with someone in need. I hope to teach that, through my own experiences, you too can triumph and overcome. I write to foster belief in myself and confidence in my story. You see, writing is one of the most selfish things I can do. I get so much more from it than I could possibly hope to give.

In 2014, as I neared my twenty-seventh birthday, I began trying to think of a new name for my blog. It was time to transition from 26 and Stumbling into something more long term and all-encompassing. I wanted a name that covered my whole life and everything that I wanted to write about. A name that didn’t seem to just focus on the negatives. One day, the idea came to me and Twenty-Everything was created. A blog for twenty-somethings and any-somethings everywhere trying to figure it all out.

Over the past couple of years I’ve written about anything and everything that my heart has desired: tips for twenty-somethings, lists and how-to’s for surviving your twenties, recipes, dating woes, dating tips, dating humor, juice cleanses, travel experiences, goals, what it was like in my first year without alcohol, career change, and all about who I am becoming. I’ve written about new beginnings and frustrating endings, about fear and doubt and perfection and freedom.

Twenty-Everything started as something intensely personal and private. I used it as a tool to begin to glue back together the broken pieces of myself. Over the past 800 and some-odd days since September of 2013, it has transformed into something more. I started this blog when I was at the beginning of finding myself and today I am simply overwhelmed with the gratitude I feel towards it.

This blog helped motivate me to turn my dreams into a reality. It helped me share my decision to make the leap into a new career and to say goodbye to the comfort of restaurant life and being a waitress. It has allowed me share my ideas and experiences on larger blogging forums such as Blog Her and Thought Catalog. This blog helped to land me my columnist role at Ms. Career Girl. Blogging serendipitously crossed my path with a few inspiring women bloggers whom I now call my friends and communicate regularly with. These women, and fellow writers, inspire me and support me and teach me how big and wonderful the world is. This little blog has helped to become a part of a much larger picture and purpose.

This is what I mean when I say I’ve gotten so much more than I’ve given. How could I ever begin to give thanks for all of it?

It’s amazing, and dumbfounding, what change can come about in your life if you just take one tiny step forward. When you hear that little voice inside of you whispering to you to try something, do it. It may be the beginning of a beautiful journey; a beautiful journey full of struggle and experience and lessons and redemption. A little voice inside of me urged me to try creating a blog, just try it. Where would I be if I hadn’t listened?

Today I am twenty-eight and my heart is full. I have come so far. I also know that I still have a great distance to go. I wouldn’t trade anything for an easier or softer way of arriving to where I am at today. Not all days are good. In fact there have been a lot of no good very hard days, but the depth of richness and fulfillment in my life is like nothing I have ever experienced. Today it is easier to share about the hard stuff and to embrace the discomfort that is necessary for growth. The darkness that I once lived in no longer threatens to overtake me. My life is filled with light, positivity, passion, and hope. Today, life is so very incredible.

It all started with a little blog that has helped me to do lots of big things.

And for that, I give thanks.

xoxo

Sarah

Since When

Since when did asking for help become a sign of weakness, rather than an opportunity to develop a relationship? Since when did asking a question come to represent a lack of knowledge, rather than seizing an opportunity to foster better communication? Since when did reaching out become something you stop and question, rather than embracing the opportunity to learn something new and see another’s perspective?

Everyone has shortcomings. No-one knows everything. Yet, somehow, we are living in a world where we’re embarrassed when we do not have the answers. We are afraid we will look stupid for asking certain questions. We fear we will be judged for lacking the knowledge. We know we will be questioned for not being one hundred percent sure of the answer.

This sounds backwards right? No-one has all the answers and nobody is perfect- not me, not Obama, not even Oprah. We all have flaws. We all make mistakes. The problem is that we don’t want to admit it. We don’t want to appear weak or unprepared. I think the biggest mistake we are making in always worrying about messing up, or trying to go it alone, is that we are not letting ourselves be vulnerable. We try to be the problem-solvers, the fixers, and the I-can-do-it-on-my-own-ers, which creates distance from everyone we come into contact with throughout the day.

This past weekend, I did some damage at Home Goods. This is the part where I must confess that I prefer to outsource certain projects. Like hanging things. So, I asked my neighbor to come over and help me. Could I have done everything on my own? Sure. I know how to operate a drill and a hammer (I am woman, hear me roar!). Easily and in under two hours? Heck no. Instead, I chose to ask for a favor and doing so does not make me weak or dependent. In reaching out and asking for help I was inviting friendship in. I was embracing the opportunity to let someone in to my life rather than declaring that I can do everything alone.

Back in April, I wrote about my struggle with vulnerability. The Vulnerability Project was a declaration of my insecurities, my fears, and my desire to change. I made a promise that I would make a wholehearted effort to open myself up to new experiences and to engage fully in life, come hell or high water. I made a promise to dare greatly.

That is since when I started trying to assume less and to listen more. That is since when I started asking for help rather than sitting alone in my struggles. That is since when I started letting people see the softer sides of me, the pieces that are nowhere near polished or perfect but are completely authentic. Engaging in vulnerability is challenging.- asking questions, initiating conversation and getting outside of what is comfortable. Sometimes I seem less knowledgeable that I am. Sometimes people think I am weak. Sometimes people hurt me. What then? Then I feel the feelings, all of them, and that is the gift that I receive. Each experience teaches me a little bit more about myself and I get a little bit better at being vulnerable. And that, my friends, is progress.

How are you at reaching out, letting others in, and being vulnerable?

xoxo

Sarah     

ps. Check out my beautiful new pallet art, a custom piece that was designed just for me and is now hanging proudly in the entrance to my bedroom. My dear friend Nick is the artist, and if you love it he is more than happy to create something special just for you :). He accepts orders via email at ncarlsongolf@yahoo.com.

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*Top photo via Pinterest

26 Things I Learned at Twenty-Six

1. Cultivating a better sense of self-not everybody’s doing it. Not everybody gets more mature,  driven, or self-aware as they grow older. Don’t waste your time on these people, there’s too many awesome ones to surround yourself with.

2. Sometimes you’ll hate your day job. Don’t give up.

3. Follow your passions. They are the surest source of true joy, and will never lead you astray. Unless your passions are boozing and drugging- find something that doesn’t involve numbing yourself to the world around you.

4. Accept your past. You can’t change it, you can’t will it away, and you certainly can’t continue apologizing for it. Love your past, it helps shape you into the amazing person you are becoming.

5. It’s not bad to have lots of acquaintances, as long as you’re okay with those acquaintances not showing up for you. Acquaintances are for networking, best friends are for showing up. Just be sure to keep the two straight.

6. Married by thirty? Maybe. If not-it’s not the end of the world.

7. Kids by thirty? Forget it. I won’t be done with being selfish by then.

8. And that reminds me…the idea of having children is no longer automatic. Becoming a mother has always been an assumed part of my life plan, but I’ve come to realize it’s not a necessity at this point. I would love to have them, but I am not planning my life around a ticking biological clock.

9. Your words don’t determine who you are, your actions do. However, be sure to keep your words kind.

10. If you don’t want to eat the whole tub of ice cream, just don’t buy it. Quit deluding yourself that you’ll have any amount of self-control once you have that sucker home alone.

11. Sunday funday is no longer defined by bottomless mimosas. It’s beach days, quality time with loved ones, and Netflix marathons.

12. Your bed is an investment. Forget old pillows and crappy mattresses, ain’t nobody got time for that when you’re working a 50+ hour work week. Take a note from me and double up on that mattress topper!

13. You constantly question your purpose. My therapist tells me that’s normal. We’ll go with that.

14. Meditating is healing. It’s also freaking hard. Trying to sit still for ten minutes or more with a clear head is next to impossible. On the list of “things to work on” for twenty-seven.

15. Superficial attraction vs. actual attraction to a person- it’s different and it matters.

16. You’ll start to care less about what others think of you. Which means you’ve learned to accept yourself. Appreciate this.

17. You have to date a lot of the wrong people to know when you’ve found the right one. Still haven’t found the right one, but I must be getting close with all the wrong ones I’ve gone through!

18. Living with two girls or more is hell. Living with only one is a much better dynamic.

19. A good roommate situation is vital to happy living. Sometimes, you may end up in living situations that suck the life out of you. Eliminate this as soon as possible. Having a respectful, kind roommate makes your life infinitely better.

20. Juice. It’s no longer cute, or acceptable, to ignore your body’s need for nutrients and balance. An unhealthy diet is also detrimental to the aging process. Juicing is a great way to give your system the boost it needs- any gal on the go can appreciate this.

21. Your parents really are the coolest and best people in your life. Well, maybe not always the coolest. But they are always there for you, giving unconditional love and support when you need it the most. I love you, Mom.

22. Failing teaches you your strength. There’s nothing like letting yourself down in a spectacular way to truly learn the hardest lessons. Keep it up, it’s the best way to grow.

23. Live minimally, splurge occasionally. Occasionally does not equal daily. This applies to shopping, manicures/pedicures, food, vacations, and dessert. Go ahead and have seconds, or thirds, of the birthday cake.

24. The importance of love, kindness, and understanding. Learning to give rather than take these things will make you a better everything, and lead to a happier you.

25. Act like a fly on the wall. I’m an emotional person, and this doesn’t always lead to me reacting in the best way. I’ve found that if I’m in a stressful situation, and I imagine myself as a fly on the wall, I can get some distance from it and act in a much more logical (and dignified) manner.

26. Most of the time you have no flipping idea what you are doing. Just roll with it. You’re exactly where you’re supposed to be. That’s what your twenties are meant for, figuring it all out.

Twenty-six was good to me. I think twenty-seven is going to be even better.

Do you have any lessons you’ve learned in your twenties or beyond? I would love to hear about them!

xoxo

Sarah