It was a combination of trying new things within familiar surroundings. The night started out with Mexican food and margaritas (albeit I was trying not to brood given that I  cracked my phone screen after tripping on the sidewalk while walking to the restaurant) and then making our way to a go-to spot that had been decked out in everything Valentines. We karaoke’d the heck out of Shania Twain, drank tequila, and then capped the night off with dancing and belting my heart out to the Backstreet Boys.

Apart from dinner, I don’t think I sat down once.

But once the celebrations end (and I’ve semi-recovered), that’s when the real work begins.

Twenty-seven was not the easiest year; I lost a job and then a relationship within the span of a few months, finding comfort in the freedom to sleep in and wear sweats all day if I wanted to. Depression came at me like the black cloud that it is, and there were days where I had to fight to not allow the grief of my circumstances to consume me. It wasn’t just about what happened specifically, but the fact that it seemed to happen over and over. I resented the lack of control, but simultaneously that’s where I also found clarity.

The sun came out again, and that’s where I genuinely rediscovered my adventurous side. I learned about that consequences that follow when you hold back from asking for what you really want, and the doors that can open when you live like you having nothing to lose. I actually enjoy going to events and outings by myself, because it allows me to focus on being a blessing to people around me, rather then resting in a buffer of being surrounded by who or what I already know.

I couldn’t settle on a singular word as I prayed over my twenty-eighth year. I initially started out with “shine” and the desire to do so in a way that wasn’t always about being gritty or a badass. Just me, cultivating my talents and sharing my gifts without justifying over-explaining. I’ve experienced a lot of self-doubt, especially over the last several years as I build both a life and career for myself: Am I qualified to do this? Do I even have a right to talk about a particular topic when I [probably] have more privilege than others?

And that’s when “breakthrough” popped up; the desire to experience a turning point both personally and professionally, and not give into the urge to hide all the time.

But waiting for that perfect moment to start being who you are isn’t realistic. Momentum is great, but it cannot be the only thing that carries you. There has to be faith, and there has to be discipline. It seems backwards, but breakthrough actually happens when you  use your gifts, exercise your strengths, and pursue your dreams in the midst of outside opinions trying to diminish your glow.

I’ve shied away asking questions, being an advocate, and ultimately elevating my voice because I’m terrified of having my spirit broken in the process. I’ve seen people light a flame, only to burn out time and time again. My biggest concern is having enough emotional energy not only to speak, but to equally engage and listen. I’m grateful to have a platform, and I’m giving myself grace in the midst of learning how to set boundaries, and pausing to respond instead of react. Dealing with the heaviness that comes with push-back is never easy, but no one makes an impact just by sitting on the sidelines.

It doesn’t always have to be loud, large, or fierce. And what you’re capable of doing matters.

Here’s to twenty-eight!

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