Today marks the one year anniversary of the day that I launched my blog!
I don't know where to begin or how to express how thankful I am for all of the love, support, well wishes, and friendships that have come out of this last year. In this post I dive into where I was a year ago. I went from one of my lowest points to one of the best years yet.
Scroll down for my long story :)
Photography: Jenna Lynn Photography
I have started and stopped this post so many times. I have written, deleted, rewritten, and come back to previous versions over and over, because I have so much to say, but I don't know where to begin or how to most accurately convey everything I am feeling.
This last year has honestly been one of the best of my life, and blogging helped make it so. It sounds like a minute thing, but it has impacted me in so many ways. To really explain this, I want to go back to tell you where I was, and who I was in October of 2016. (This is generally where I start to tear up as I type)
2016 was a tough year for me. Zack and I had been living in Seattle for almost 2 years and I was still trying to make the city feel like home. Work was getting stressful, consistently working 60 - 70 hour weeks, so my anxiety slowly started creeping up on me, and eventually my anxiety was at an all time high. I have struggled with anxiety my entire life and it has always been extreme. I could go days without really eating or sleeping, and I could go weeks without a night where I didn't cry myself to sleep. I would worry myself sick over any tiny thing. This happened quite often in middle school and high school for many reasons, a big one being social anxiety and the fact that I was picked on and made fun of quite often until I graduated. My anxiety then followed me early on in my college years. However, as I got further into my schooling, started to build life-long friendships, and really began to excel within my architecture program, it slowly melted away; not completely, but it was more manageable than ever. However, in 2016 it came back with a roaring vengeance.
Work was not the source of my over all anxiety last year, just the initial trigger. Anxiety is a funny little thing. It can sneak up on you for one reason or another, then it can just completely consume you and everything you do. I was stressed, and so I would make mistakes, and with every mistake, I would beat myself up more and more. And these mistakes were never something major; easily fixable and rarely something anyone would notice. But I noticed.
I am a people pleaser, first and foremost, and a perfectionist. My inability to make everyone happy and meet my unattainable self-set goals started to eat away at me, It didn't take long before I started to feel that I was constantly screwing up in every aspect of my life. "I can't do anything right", "I can't believe I screwed this up again", "you are SO stupid", "WHY are you like this?!", "You're a terrible friend", "you're an awful daughter", "you suck at being a big sister", "you are the worst girl friend", "You suck at your job".
Then it turned into - "I hate myself. I hate myself so much."
These phrases were things I told myself daily. Hourly in fact. I felt that I was trying SO hard at work, at home, in my friendships, with my family, and I was failing at everything. I would come home and cry every day, for months. I would cry because I felt like I didn't deserve the life I had, the relationship I had, the job I had. I convinced myself it was all a fluke. "How did I get here? I don't deserve this - I'm not good enough for this." I was convinced that everyone would catch on eventually too - constantly worried I would lose my friends, lose my job, and lose Zack - this made my anxiety even worse. I hated how I was feeling, and I hated myself for feeling this way. But no matter how hard I tried, I always talked myself out of feeling better. "You aren't good enough" "You won't be able to accomplish that". Before any task - I second guessed myself, and ultimately was convinced I would fail before I began. Many things I wanted to try were forfeited before even starting. A funny thing though - not many people knew how I was feeling on the inside, or how I would break down behind closed doors. I am a very talkative person and very energetic and was able to mask it. That was another constant fear of mine - someone finding out about my anxiety.
Through all of this, promotion season was looming at work, and I thought to myself "okay - get over yourself, work hard, get that promotion, and you'll feel better." I thought it would somehow invalidate all of my fear about getting fired or failing at my career - and in turn I thought my anxiety would dissipate. (the problem with this - I was basing my happiness, or lack thereof, on someone else's opinion of me and my work)
I started throwing myself into work, taking on even more than I normally did, trying to prove (to myself) that I was worthy of being promoted. I was even told by several people that I was in line to get it, which made me feel a little better about everything on my plate. Well - promotion season came and went, and no promotion. That was my breaking point. I was devastated. I let myself down once again. I spent the next week really angry. Angry at everyone around me and angry with myself.
This is when I finally accepted things needed to change -
One night, October 30, 2016 to be exact, I was scrolling through Instagram and I showed Zack a picture of a girl. She was a blogger modeling her outfit. I flipped my phone around to face him and I said something along the lines of - "I would love to do this!" He looked pretty confused and asked, "do what?" "Be a blogger!" And I proceeded to explain that every time I scroll through Instagram, I just wished I could start a fashion blog and really connect with people.
He made some cute comment about how I shop too much and have enough clothes - so I should just start one. :)
But as usual, I started to list off all the reasons I couldn't do it. "I don't know how to start a website", "Who will take my photos? I can't afford photography", "No one will read it". After about 20 excuses, he said - "you don't know unless you try" and proceeded to list all of the reason that I COULD do it. "You went to design school, you love photography, you have more clothes than anyone I know.." and on and on. :)
He then told me that he would help me start a website, and he would take my photos if I thought him the ropes of my camera. Somehow, those words of encouragement resonated with me. So many times before I would have just brushed off any nice words because I didn't feel worthy, but I was so tired of the way I was feeling. I was burnt out and I couldn't have felt worse about myself, so I decided to give it a shot because really - what was the harm?
That night - I bought my domain name <3
Somehow, that night, something completely flipped for me. That was the first night I hadn't cried myself to sleep, and I was pretty excited to start working on my website. Slowly but surely, I would get home from work and concentrate on building up my blog with content and my anxiety started to melt away. Zack began to learn how to use my DSLR, and is now to the point where I consider him to be a better photographer than me! He helped take a bunch of photos for me. I even connected with a friend from school who shot a BUNCH of outfits for me when I went home during Thanksgiving 2016. Once the shoot was over and I asked him how much he would charge for the shoot, he told me - don't worry about it, I want you to keep pursuing your goals and I hope this helps. To this day that means SO much to me - (Please check out his work - he is an AMAZING photographer - Frees Frame Photography and Design)
Little by little, my excitement towards starting my blog began to completely shift my view of everything else in my life. It wasn't the blog specifically, but the fact that, for years, I would look up to bloggers and wish I could do that - I wanted to have an impact, I wanted to help people, I wanted to inspire those around me but I was convinced it would never happen, that I couldn't do it - and slowly I was beginning to prove myself wrong. Once I proved that I could do something I NEVER though I could, nothing seemed out of reach. I started viewing work tasks in a different light and started to become excited about my career again. I started to value my friendships so much more because I felt like I was actually contributing to the friendship, I was finally seeing the value in myself. I felt like a better girl friend because I was happy at home, excited for our future and no longer scared of the inevitable despair that I was convinced was headed my way.
Proving to myself that I could do this ONE thing made EVERYTHING seem possible. It was the day I launched my blog that I committed to loving myself more. On January 24, 2017, I looked back on the last 3 months and how much I had changed just because I was able to finally believe in myself (with an immense amount of support from Zack)
January 24, 2017 is when I started an amazing journey to self realization and it turned into the most amazing experience. I have met SO many wonderful people, created beautiful friendships and partnerships, and strengthened my relationship and friendships I already had. The experiences I have, the knowledge I continue to gain through this journey, and the opportunities that have opened up in ALL areas of my life because I trusted myself to take a risk continue to amaze me. The sole decision to believe in myself in 2016 made 2017 a fresh start for my life. I approach things with a completely different mindset. I have close friends tell that I seem so happy this year and they can see a big change in me - I am always so grateful to hear that! :)
Self-love is SO unbelievably important and can change your life like it did mine. My hope in opening up about where I started, and how low I was, is to inspire anyone who feels even a glimpse of self doubt, to love themselves enough to take a risk. Love yourself enough to believe that you can do it. Doing anything less than taking a risk on yourself is selling yourself too short.
I have to constantly remind myself to keep loving who I am. Times get hard, things still get stressful and overwhelming. I still have anxiety, but it has dramatically been reduced most of the time and I can manage it. I am able to talk myself out of most panic attacks by telling myself - "you can do it, it's okay" - something I was NEVER able to do before. I still have panic attacks, just significantly less. If I'm being totally honest - I had one last night! Life becomes overwhelming sometimes and thats just the way it goes. But I'm learning and growing to love myself more every day.
When telling myself that it is going to be okay just isn't cutting it, I turn to the internet and I find quotes or self help books. Honestly, reading positive quotes can really lift me out of a funk. Whenever I find one, I put it into a note in my phone so I can read it again later. I pull these out when I need some extra reminding that I really am a badass ;) Examples below:
If you take anything away from this post I hope it is this: Love yourself. Love yourself SO much and be selfish when it comes to how much you love yourself. When you get to the point where you realize how amazing you are, share that love and share what you know. Love others just as much and hopefully they will see their value too.
Thank YOU all for following along on this journey. If you made it to the end of this post, I really appreciate you taking the time to read the words that took me so many hours and tears to write. I truly hope this post reaches someone who needs it. I hope that it can help someone take a chance. My heart aches for anyone who feels helpless just as I did. I want so badly to help ANYONE who feels a HINT of doubt about who they are or how amazing they are, and to know that they are enough.
THIS year, 2017, has been the best experience of my life. I have been so excited about life, love, friendships, work, and family, and I am always eager to learn more and meet more people. I have been opening up little by little about my anxiety and my journey this year and I have already received such a wonderful response. I have surprised myself SO much this year, far exceeding anything I ever thought was possible.
I want to thank EVERYONE who has helped me get to where I am today: My friends and family who loved me unconditionally and my new friends I have made in this beautiful creative community who continue to inspire the socks off of me every day. The phrase "Women Supporting Women" has never rang more true for me than it did this year. I have made life-long friends in this blogging community and all of your endless talents, encouragement, and love continue to amaze and inspire me every day.
Last but never ever least - Zack. Your faith in me and unwavering love and support, even though my lowest times, are the reason I was able to have the courage to begin this journey.
Cheers to a full year of blogging! I CANNOT wait to see what the next year will bring!
Check out some of the ladies who have inspired me this year and I am lucky enough to call my friends:
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