I lost a lot of weight this year.
Which feels funny to type, as it’s currently the holiday season and my clothes are fitting a biiiiiit tight. It’s also a week after my birthday (I have a whole 7 days of being 25 under my belt!) and a few days after my party. And I’ve been reflecting on how different I’m feeling than this time last year.
24 started out rough for me. It’s been a healing year, thankfully. But the healing came after the pain – old wounds, reopened, in order to heal properly this time around. Sometimes the surgeons have to go back in, to re-fix the same old problem. Sometimes wounds get infected, without proper care. Sometimes the sickness just keeps coming back, no matter how many remedies you’ve tried. But the good news? Healing is possible. Healing is worth fighting for.
I started fighting for what makes me me, I started embracing my uniqueness. After years of shrugging off compliments or trying desperately to hide certain parts of myself, I tried accepting what people said about me. I tried accepting that my friends actually like me, and don’t just put up with me. I tried accepting that I may be gifted in certain things for certain reasons (and not gifted in other certain things for other certain reasons…). I worked to accept myself for all my failures and shortcomings, and, equally, for all my successes and talents.
I made myself a priority for the first time… ever. Halfway through my 24th year, I took a break from ministry. AKA I took a break from my life (or so it felt). I felt called to pursue rest and wholeness and a different way of being. I discovered what I was really being pushed into was solitude and getting to know myself. I stopped doing things because I thought other people needed me to, and I started doing things I needed me to. I cooked myself real meals and opened up a bottle of wine just because and splurged on things I normally don’t buy for myself (cough books cough). I didn’t care for my friends any less, I just started caring for myself a lot more.
I started acting on impulses. Maybe a bad thing, for some people. But for someone who over analyzes and overthinks every breath she takes? This was healthy. I started going out with my roommates at the last minute or sitting and hanging on the couch when I had planned to do something else that night. I would text people for last minute plans or – even more crazy – reschedule at the last minute. I started singing out loud in the car – when people were present – when I didn’t know all the words. I started laughing out loud, loudly, when I thought something was funny. Even if I was the only one laughing. I discovered how freeing it can be to simply life your life – instead of planning, analyzing, and executing your life. I discovered how wonderful it can be to focus on simply being present, instead of so focused on being perfect.
I stopped and listened to myself – to my body, to my rhythms, to my soul. It sounds funny, not being able to hear yourself. But when you’ve spent so long bending over backwards for others, trying to please everyone else, all while treading water, you start to drown out your own needs. I started saying no to things when I was tired or didn’t have the energy – even things I wanted to go to, even people I want to see. I started getting enough sleep at night. Bed times are more important than to-do lists, people. I started paying attention to things that cut just a little bit deeper, things that brought tears to my eyes faster than others, things that stopped me in my tracks when others kept walking.
I also decided to listen to people. I listened when they told me who I was and how I mattered to them. As someone who’s long brushed off compliments, taking in and cherishing words people speak over you is so, so beautiful. I’m learning and relearning our friends are the one who remind us of who we are, when we seem to forget. But we have to listen. I’ve also started to listen when people (with or without words) tell me who they are. Honest? Admirable? Safe? People tell you who they are – just listen close enough.
And I got rid of so much stuff. So, so much. I started cleaning out my closets and my nooks and crannies. As I sorted through 5 million pull over sweatshirts, I also sorted through things I’ve based my identity on, truths I live around. I was sorting my closet but I was also sorting my beliefs. Does this fit anymore? Do I like this anymore? Do I need this anymore?? Maybe my life would be better if I got rid of this one… And you know what? Then I did just that.
I got rid of clothes upon clothes upon clothes (so much so that I got rid of a 9 drawer dresser that used to take up half my room). I got rid of jewelry I never wear and sock that are cute, but not comfy, and hair products that I’ll never use. I got rid of lies upon lies upon lies. I got rid of ex-boyfriend’s voices and snide comments from high school and closely held beliefs that I never really examined before. I wanted less of what was just taking up space in my life, in order to have room to live. Goodbye giant dresser; hello comfy chair in the corner of my room – perfect for curling up in with a book. Goodbye the need to please everyone, ever; hello freedom to breath. Goodbye the stress of taking on others’ responsibilities; hello space to dream. Goodbye to so, so much shame. Hello to authentic living.
24 was good to me. I got rid of a lot of unnecessary weight.
I invited my friends to come celebrate my 25th birthday in a cloud of nerdiness: I transformed my house into Stars Hollow for the evening and told everyone to dress as a character from Gilmore Girls. 25 felt like a milestone that had to be celebrated, the revival A Year in the Life came out a week beforehand, Lauren Graham’s book came out on my birthday …I really had no choice in the matter. The universe had spoken.
As I choose my friends wisely, most are avid Gilmore Girls fans and were all about it. Others had no idea what I was rambling on about in my Facebook event invite, but were still game. I was shopping for the party (pop tarts and pizza, of course) and scouring Pinterest for free printables (they never fail me) and having an all around lovely time. Until, all of a sudden, I wasn’t.
Am I being SO WEIRD right now?? Am I going all out – like way too far out – for a silly birthday party? What if no one comes? What if I go to all this work and only 5 people show up and it’s so awkward? It’s me and all this food and all these crafty details and no one? What if this night that I’m hoping will be so fun actually ends up being me alone and feeling weird? How embarrassing will that be??
I realized celebrating myself feels very vulnerable to me. I am all about birthdays and presents and little gifts for no reason for other people, but celebrating myself – and allowing other people to celebrate me – has always been difficult. As I was stepping towards a vulnerability of mine, all the lies came swooping in: That I only matter and have worth if 10 million people show up to my house on Friday night. My party decor is only cool if everyone Instagram/ Snapchats the heck out of it. I only had a fun time if it looks like I had a fun time on social media; my life is only hip and cool if it looks hip and cool to the outside observer.
As I processed these lies (after I realized they were just that – lies), I came to a truth: I was having so much fun making a ‘Welcome to Stars Hollow’ sign and printing out Luke’s labels for coffee cups. I loved finding recipes for Founder’s Day Punch and The Rory and shopping for a 48 pack of pop tarts. These are things I enjoy – hosting, details, planning, creating. Not to mention involving all of my favorite people in something I love.
I realized if I’m having fun cutting out giant coffee cups for a photo booth, it doesn’t really matter if people use them / think they are cool / even get it. It matters that I’m having fun. If I’m so excited to set up my kitchen table like Lorelai and Rory’s typical diet, people don’t have to enjoy it. I’m enjoying it. I started taking all of these hard lessons I had struggled through in the past year and putting them in action – I started listening to myself and getting rid of the lies.
I don’t need to tell you how many people showed up on Friday night or what their reactions were or how many Instagrams were posted. But I’ll tell you this: I had the best time. I hate to think I could have missed out on such a celebration by giving into fear. Embracing your vulnerable points can be terrifying, but it can also be incredibly healing. As can a house full of donuts, pop tarts, and (almost) all of your favorite people.
I’ve discovered I am not a life style blogger, as I sat down to write a “How to Throw A Gilmore Girl’s Birthday Party!!” and ended up with something very different. But I did take pictures, in hopes of writing my first Pinterest-worthy post. So for all you Gilmore fans out there…