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Five year old me was talkative. Curious. Wanted to do everything her big sister did. Wanted to BE her. Dress like her, look like her, act like her. Her sister was always so loved and liked by everyone. She wanted that. To be somebody like that. 

10 year old me left the state of Oklahoma with her family to move back to her roots in Mississippi. She was both broken-hearted and filled with a sense of adventure. She was going to a place she knew she wanted to be, but it was going to cost things she loved. Mostly the only place she ever remembered calling “home”.

15 year old me fell in love with a boy. She thought she could fix everything that was broken in his life, and that he could fix her brokenness too. But in the trying to fix and be fixed, she began to lose herself. She listened to what everyone else thought she should be and made it her goal to please them. And it consumed her.

20 year old me discovered that she was carrying life within her body. Less than a year later, she had her own rebirth with the birth of her daughter. Scales fell away from her eyes. Fear began to dissipate. There was only one person she didn’t ever want to disappoint anymore.

25 year old me married a new love. It was a different love. An unconditional, freeing love. A new family began to take shape for her. All the things that had brought her to this new place seemed like bumps and curves of a blessed but broken path. And she began to find her faith again.

30 year old me lost something so precious. So dear. So innocent. A piece of her heart that would never heal. It changed her. It profoundly and completely changed her. She would never be the same. 

She also found that faith wasn’t everything she thought it was. That it was actually more. She began to accept that she didn’t have all the answers. And that was starting to finally be okay. 

She finished a journey that she had started over a decade before. At the end, she ended up with a little framed piece of paper. But also renewed confidence. She still didn’t know where she was going. But she knew that she was still capable of dreaming and pursuing those dreams.

I blew out candles for the next milestone today. 35 year old me.

She no longer wants to be like anyone but herself. She has flaws and imperfections and is always trying to grow and mature. But she has loosened up a lot. Learned to forgive herself. Learned to love herself.

She’s okay with saying “no”. She is okay with being different than other people. She is okay with her quirks and her idiosyncrasies. She understands the fact that you have to sometimes give up things to get where you want to be. She understands that all of the mistakes she’s made, hurts she’s experienced, faith she’s lost and found again, goals she’s set and accomplished, roles she’s played – these things have helped make her who she is. And finally, for the most part, she is proud of who she is becoming. Because it’s real. It’s true. 

She knows that, at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you are as good as you thought you should be, or if you’re as good as someone else thought you should be. 

She knows that faith is something that cannot be easily explained or completely understood. 

She knows that love isn’t about fixing anyone, but simply being broken, together. And loving the broken pieces as much as the whole ones.

She understands that some gifts are wrapped up to look like little girls. Daughters who make you want to cry, laugh, scream, and breathe deeply every day of your life. Children who keep you going when you really want to give up on yourself.

She knows that what really matters is if she loved, and if she is loved. 

And she does. 

And she is. 

And 35 year old me is excited about where the next 5 will find her. Because it’s been one beautifully broken journey so far.