Five years ago, I was a completely different person. I was in a dark, frightening place and felt extremely happy and unloved. I look back at that part of myself and want to give her a long, loving hug. "Things will work out beautifully," I'd tell her, "You keep holding on, keep your chin up, and you'll see!"
Today I can say that I have risen from despair and have discovered a beautiful, good world waiting for me. I love deeply, and I am loved in return. I know that self-love is deeply important and not at all selfish; I know that people are kind and that hope is a powerful thing. I know that I am beautiful and talented and that I have so much to give the world; I am learning that I needn't be apologetic for who I am, and that modesty is not denying your gifts, but being grateful for them and celebrating them without selfishness. I am learning that it is okay to be vulnerable and that it's okay to have and express feelings - the good and the bad alike.
Yesterday I looked through a journal written by my young sixteen year old self. She wanted to feel beautiful, talented, loved, appreciated; she wanted to be herself without fear of being judged and she wanted to find independence and freedom. I can say that, over time, I have come much closer to achieving each of these things. As I continue on this long journey called life, I hope to always strive to learn and grow, always working towards a better me and always loving the me I am in that moment.
Here's to three hundred and sixty five days filled with growth, adventure, trust, happiness, and love. Happy 22nd birthday, Self! I love you, I love you, I love you!