21 was the year of milestones.
I launched Straight to the Butze, the platform I had envisioned for years, but hadn’t known how to begin. I had been scared- what if people mocked me? What if future employers decided not to hire me because of my health history? What if I say something wrong and cause someone harm? But I closed my eyes and pressed the button and 11 months later, here we are- with a blog and an Instagram and a community of followers that I love to engage with every day. I put myself completely out there, sharing it all to this world of strangers, because I knew I wanted to be the role model I had needed growing up.
I turned in my thesis, a project that had been years in the making. For seven or eight years, I had envisioned turning my grandmother’s history into a story for everyone to read. I was finally able to put pen to paper (okay, fingers to keyboard, but that doesn’t sound as poetic…) and write the words for everyone to read. I put a dent in a project that I hope to open up again in the future and carve out even more.
I graduated from college, a crazy, whirlwind of a weekend that hasn’t quite hit me yet. I spent time with the ones I love, said goodbye to the campus that held so many beautiful and tearful memories for me, and walked across the stage to cross into true adulthood. For the first time, I would be on my own, not living at home and not in a dorm. My cap and gown came off and I danced on the dance floor until my family, friends, and I were the only ones left and the party was over. My purple dress twirled around and my gold shoes flashed in the lights and I remember how badly my feet hurt the next morning.
I applied to job after job after job and was rejected plenty of times which hurt but it all made sense because eventually I was offered the PERFECT job for me and for what I love. I am pursuing my passion for academics, books, publishing, and communication all at the same time, ever so grateful for the opportunity I have before me.
In accepting this job, I agreed to relocate to LA, a place I spent the past four years during school but never came to call home. I found an apartment and took steps to make this tiny space my tiny new home and am leaving in a week to start this new chapter.
But most importantly, it was another year of progress. Progress to me is not linear. Progress is all over the map. You have to make mistakes and backtrack to move forward, and this year was filled with many of those. I went up and down and backwards and forwards, but at the end of the day, I am in such a different place than I was on my 19th birthday- the birthday that launched me into my period of disordered eating and exercise. This weekend I will be wearing my bathing suit every day. I will be eating cake and ice cream and I will not be as active as I usually am, instead lying under a tree to read and nap. I can’t say for a fact that I won’t be insecure or look down at my stomach to see the bulge over my bathing suit bottoms. I can’t say that I won’t feel a bit sick, whether mentally or physically, after eating these birthday treats. And I can’t say that every single moment will be peachy keen and I will be smiling the entire time. But I can say that I will choose to enjoy the cake, relish in every bite’s flavor complexities. I will choose to wear my bathing suit, even if I am a bit uncomfortable, because I love the sun and the water and they make me happy. When I look back at my 22nd birthday, I am going to remember the time I spent with my loved ones and the progress I had made over all the years before.
More and more, I am becoming myself and I am choosing to be proud of myself for everything I do and everything I am. I am not traditional, probably the farthest thing from your average 22-year-old. But I accept that and I love that about me- and the people that matter will love that about me to!
So here is to my 22nd year, a year that has been causing me ALL the emotions, especially as I type this. Thank you to the many of you who have supported me from the start and thank you to those who have followed along from any other point on my journey to now. As the ever so famous Taylor Swift says, “Everything will be alright, if we just keep dancing like we’re 22.”