As I get closer to my birthday each year, I find that I want to reflect more than usual, look back on how I got to this point.

There’s a line in the song “So Far Away” by Staind, “I’m not ashamed to be the person that I am today.” That line is a great summary.

I used to carry around so much shame, guilt, and regret. I regretted things I did as well as things I didn’t choose to do. I felt guilty for not always being the best parent, friend, partner that I could be. I was ashamed that I wasn’t more, whatever more meant.

I dropped those feelings for the most part when I attended the funerals of two of my friends. The loss was a wake up call to notice all the good that is, rather than get sucked into what isn’t going right.

How am I different? I don’t live in fear. I don’t care if you like my job, my clothes, my friends, my lovers, my tats, my kid, my taste in music. I don’t care if you like my words. I do have my moments of feeling low, but I try hard to pull myself back up again quickly because this is it, this moment, this life, this breath…all I have is in this moment so I don’t want to waste it being unhappy.

I was angry and unhappy for years, and to what end? I shoved people away who wanted to love me and I was closed off to new opportunities. That’s not what I would call a win.

Now? I laugh. I write. I flirt. I spend my time with those that bring me joy. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Not everyone appreciates my balls to the wall approach. I’ve been told I’m abrasive. I’ve been told I’m as subtle as a chainsaw. I’ve been told my writing sucks. I’ve been rejected for love, and I’ve been rejected for work.

And so fucking what? Every no brings me closer to yes, and yes is abso-fucking-lutely delicious. Yes is a road trip to see an old haunted theme park in the pouring rain with a car full of friends. Yes is seeing my words shared over 12,000 times from a website I adore. Yes is laughing hard over breakfast with my kiddo. Yes is that sixth cup of coffee with girlfriends because we have the best conversations. Yes is a sleepy warm arm draped over my bare hip in the wee hours.

Say yes, friends, to the possibilities. Say yes. Be brave.

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