HAPPY BIRTHDAY, GIRL! REFLECTIONS FROM MY 28TH YEAR.

Last year, I woke up on my birthday and I was truly elated. Life was going exactly the way I wanted it to go. I'd accepted a new job; a job that I'd always wanted in higher ed. I was dating and it was fun. And I'd finally made a decision about the direction I was taking my photography business and this blog. It wasn't perfect, but it was close. 

Things took a turn very quickly, however. 28 was tough. It almost broke me. But I will be honest: I needed this year. 

I'm not sure what makes you an adult. Some say it's age, while others say it's maturity. All I know is that I didn't feel like an adult until this week, truly. After walking through so many trials, set backs and let downs this year, I finally feel like a grown woman. And it feels good. 

I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday and I congratulated myself for making it. Sometimes you have to do that. I literally said, "You didn't die!" And at times I believed the things that came my way were designed to kill me. But I didn't die and I didn't give up. I cried, a lot, but I kept going. It was the hardest push of my life; completely uphill. Standing on the other side, though, I know that each one of those things was necessary.

This week I found out that the job I was so excited about last year was ending unexpectedly; the department that I'd run by myself for a whole year was dissolving. All the late nights, tears, frustrations, disappointments, and the incredible bonding with my students felt like it was all in vain. It was the final straw. Everything that I was elated about last year was now gone. Before I could ask why, I realized that all of those things were keeping me from purpose. 

My purpose isn't tied to the work I do currently. I know that, now, more than I've ever known it. It was comfortable work. I could avoid my purpose while being extremely busy, which looked like I was on the move. I wasn't. Busy doesn't mean productive, and that's the biggest lesson I learned this year. How dare I avoid the work of my purpose? This is what I was put here for. I owe it to myself and to the people that my purpose will serve to show up and do the real honest work of seeing it through. 

So, I walk into 29 with a commitment like I've never had. I feel like I can pursue this and actually make it because I've made it through the worst year of my life and I didn't die! 

28 grew me up in ways I couldn't imagine: It taught me that I'm worthy; taught me how to love without expectation (or reciprocity). It revealed my purpose and pushed me in the right direction. 28 gave me the ability to adapt in every situation. And it forced me to rely on no one but God. It was tough, maybe the toughest, but it made me better. 

I'm at my best. 

Thank you to my family for loving me through this year. You guys are a gift. And to everyone and everything that left, thank you for making room for more light to shine in. I'm grateful for it all.