Friday, February 8, 2013

I've Come a Long Way, Baby

With the New Year firmly behind us (how did that happen so fast?), I've spent a lot of time reflecting during the last few months on what an awesome year I had in 2012.  I can't even really describe to you how different my life is sitting here today typing this from my life one year ago.  Don't get me wrong, I was happy a year ago.  I was in a good job, I'd come to some realizations about myself and what it was I was looking to get out of life.  I felt like it was the first time in my adult life that I knew who I was, as a part of the human race, as a woman, as a Christian, as a member of my family, and all the elements that made me unique in all those various roles.  I wasn't conforming or doing things because someone else wanted me to or because of how someone else might perceive me.  I was doing things that I wanted to do or avoiding things that had no interest to me.  I could physically see a change in the person I was.  I noticed it in pictures.  Not only was I losing weight, I was gaining confidence.  I wouldn't recognize myself in pictures right away, not because I was slimmer, but because my face looked different.  It looked lighter, more full of life, more confident... happier.  I'd look at my face and think 'Who is that person?  Is that me?  Wow... I look different.'  No one but me probably noticed that, but knowing the darker, less happy, more melancholy, less confident version of myself that I had been previously, I knew I'd come a long way, baby.

A few months ago, a friend of mine reminded me of this transition.  We'd each come to a pivotal point in our lives where we could continue moving in the direction that we'd become accustomed to.  We could sit back and just let life hand us our cards and play them reservedly and quietly, or we could grab the deck and pick out the cards we wanted and run full steam ahead.  We met for dinner one night after work after having had a few chat sessions about knowing we'd come to this crossroads at the same time in our lives.  As we sat there encouraging each other to go forward, to grab life, to make of it what we wanted, to know that we deserved the happiness that we each craved, I think something shifted in both of our minds.  We each knew that sitting still wasn't going to help us accomplish any of these dreams.  Although some people we knew in the past may have been fortunate enough that wonderful things just happened to fall in their laps, that obviously wasn't going to be the case for either of us.  We'd have to put ourselves out there, go outside of our comfort zones, take chances, and proactively go after those things we wanted so much in life.  We had to be confident in our ability to accomplish these goals and not sell ourselves short.  We had to set standards for people in our lives and not allow them to drain the life and spirit out of us because they happened to fulfill a short-term goal.  We needed to think and plan for the long-term if we wanted things to last for the long haul.

In short, we both decided we were going to be happy.  Come hell or high water.  At that moment.

Friends, it is a conversation I will not soon forget because it is literally for me, and I know too for my friend, one of those life moments after which everything shifted.  Although I had a good job, there were elements missing.  Within a few months of this conversation, I landed a position at a world-renowned university, rubbing elbows on a daily basis with people considered experts in my field.  My friend was able to move into a full-time role at her current employer and could finally transition out of having to work two jobs to make ends meet.  And most importantly, again within a few months of this conversation and also within weeks of each other, both my friend and I met significant others who have changed our lives.

Now don't get me wrong.  This decision, at least for me, was not a spur-of-the-moment endeavor.  There was a long transition leading up to my ability to make that decision.  I had to be in the right place in my head and my heart to make it and stick to it.  I had to be confident that I could be successful at it and willing to wait it out with no expectations of time frames or deadlines for completion or dates at which I'd throw in the towel.  I'd do what I needed to do for as long as I needed to do it to be happy.  And in that moment, it all came together.

And friends, today, a little over one year later, I am happy.  Plain and simple.

And I am engaged to be married.

In honor of "The Year of Us," as my friend and I coined it, she recently shared a picture with me that she saw on PostSecret.  Don't know about PostSecret?  Please... you must check it out.  (Not completely appropriate for all age groups, though, so beware.)  This picture and its sentiment put beautifully into words what we had experienced together during that pivotal conversation a year ago:


I am fortunate and thankful because that "one day" already happened for me. I hope that it has for you, too or that you're one of those lucky few who has everything fall into place naturally.  If you're neither of these things, believe that you can be.  Believe that you deserve it.  And find a friend who believes it too.

Author's Note:  Thank you, Anna, for our friendship and a year of encouragement and celebrations.

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