Friends! Today* is my birthday!
Birthdays are crazy things, especially as you get older. I turned 24. My age is only reflected in the amount of bills I owe and the amount of “real world job experience” I have on my resume, as physically, some people still mistake me for a high school student (why? just why?), emotionally, I have the spirit of a Grandma while most of my interest and hobbies will always remain in the realm of a teenage gamer. But, the reality of it is it, I was born in 1992, 24 years ago. And it has me all contemplating.
Naturally, another year older, I looked back at the year I lived as a 23 year old. It was definitely a crazy, emotional and eventful year for me: graduated from college; went to grad school; move out of state; dropped out of grad school; moved back home; wrote four books; read hundreds more; became a more dedicated gamer; got my first post-college job; got my first apartment and the bills that follow it; became a bit more introverted and a little bit more of a loner as an adult. So many life changes, so many adventures, so many challenges, so many regrets, so many memories, so much happiness and heartbreak and stress and relief.
Of course, now that my birthday’s over, I’m thinking about what the future year might bring and I am utterly clueless. How many jobs will I end up working? Will I advance in my career or stay stagnant? How many books will I write? Will I query at all? Will I become represented? Will I renew my lease or have a change of scenery? Will I fall in love? Will my dreams come true? Will I cry myself to sleep? Will I…?
The list is endless.
I do know this, though: I want to be better to myself. I want to be more genuine in reflecting who I really am. I want to be fearless.
My life, like anyone’s, has been built upon ups and downs and has been shaped by so many aspects. Along the way, it has taken a really, really long time to discover myself and who I truly believe I am. The past few years, especially, I have discovered leaps and bounds about myself; about what I want in life; about who I want to be. And it’s taken me a long time to realize that I shouldn’t hide that woman from the world, nor should I apologize to the world about who exactly that woman is.
Because, truthfully, I love her.
Yet, just as truthfully, I have spent so much of my life hating her.
A year from now, if I live to be 100, I’ll have lived a quarter of my life. A quarter of my life, gone and lived and in the past, like a blink. I refuse to spent the rest of it degrading and damaging myself simply because I refuse to fit into a mold society wants to me to fit, thus supposedly deeming myself lesser, unworthy, not good enough, because of that deviation.
No bloody longer.
My name is Nicole. I’m 24 years old. I’m a writer by birth, a storyteller by trade. I am weird, odd, quirky. I claim the title nerd with honor and pride. I am a walking juxtaposition in so many regards. And as early as middle school, I have hated myself, mostly influenced by my physical appearance, but also because I didn’t think the person I was, the person I have grown into and become, was worthy of anything; even though deep down, I knew that I loved myself. I wanted to love myself. But how could I, when society constantly spoke otherwise; when I allowed myself to be ruled by numbers on a scale or on clothes; when depression reared and loneliness overruled?
This is my life and I am so tired of being ruled by fear, being boxed in by societal expectations and categories that I don’t fit, of hating myself when all I want to do is love. My body is curvy and my face is plain. My opinions are stubborn and my views spoken. My hobbies are passions that are expressed with enthusiasm. My soul is old and my beliefs traditional. I love fully and intensely. My skin is inked. My conversations are in-depth. My standards and expectations are high.
All of these aspects of myself, I have hated, feared or questioned because of how the world responds: with distaste, with dissatisfaction, with disapproval. There are plenty more that didn’t make it into that list. Yet they are also all aspects that, if I am so totally and utterly honest, I actually love about myself. Deep, deep down, I knew this. Yet I never gave myself permission to fully accept and embrace this self-love; to express myself without apology or explanation for who I am to my core and ooze confidence powered by love.
Dammit, I am 24 years old. I think it is high time I allowed myself to love myself.
I have no idea what my 24th year will bring; what my future holds, how my life will change or twist or contort or challenge me or reward me or break me or mold me. But I do know this: I am sick and tired of hating myself when I am worthy of love. Not only love from my friends–which is felt–or my family–which is cherished–or from a soulmate–which is craved–but from myself.
Which is deserved and desperately overdue.
* So I posted this technically on the 4th, even though my birthday was on the 3rd. And regardless of when I posted it, you could be reading this at any point, so the statement is pretty much null and void no matter which way you look at it. So sue me.