I am back today with part two of my story (you can check out part one here). I know I said this would be about my twenties, but I’m backtracking just a bit to around age 17. During those early years, I became a bit of an angsty teen – I internalized a lot (read: everything) and it was heavy. Inside I felt a little dark. Funny that nowadays I joke about having a black soul – haha! Who doesn’t love a good bit of sarcasm?
But yeah, I definitely always felt a bit dark inside, like there was this side of me no one would really understand. Or that I just wasn’t willing to share. Despite feeling that way inside though, I am and have always been an extremely positive person – bright, happy, and sunny – mostly for others though, not necessarily for myself.
Growing up, I loved Linkin Park – totally blasted their album in their car (still do sometimes!). And really just any, what used to be called, “alternative” music. So, Good Charlotte, Simple Plan, Blink 182, Puddle of Mudd…wait, why is this making me feel old? Hahaha! But especially Linkin Park – their song Numb. Absolutely my go-to for not wanting to feel anything. Or wait, for not allowing myself to feel anything. Music has kind of always been everything to me, from as far back as I can remember.
So anyway, at 17 years old, I met my would-be husband. I graduated from high school, and I started college. I drifted away from most of my friends, and eventually all of them, really (but thankfully not forever!). I worked full-time throughout the first two years of college, if I recall correctly. I kept my head down, did the work, and made my way through.
During my last year of undergraduate school, my then-boyfriend moved to NYC for graduate school. So, I finished up my last year of school, graduated, and off I moved to NYC to be with him and to start graduate school. See, I told you I eventually escaped small town ‘Merica. But also found out that I was not and am not a “city” girl.
You know, I started the whole college thing wanting to be a doctor – an obstetrician to be exact. But, who even knows what happened. Life, I guess. When making the decision to move to NYC, I thought a while about going to pastry arts school, but decided against it because I guess it seemed like a Master’s Degree in Psychology was the more logical route…what I should do. Lesson for you all – FOLLOW YOUR HEART. I absolutely loved cooking and baking when I was growing up, but I got it stuck in my head that I was going to prove to everyone that a “woman’s place” WAS NOT in the kitchen. Boy, did I have so much to learn and unravel.
So yep, I graduated with my degree in psychology and off we moved to Maryland, just outside Washington, DC. And I totally LOVED IT and I miss it a lot now that I’ve moved back to Michigan. You read right – almost a year ago I moved back to my small hometown in Michigan, but we’ll save that for another post.
While in Maryland, I worked, and worked, and worked. My job really became my life. I worked at a men’s emergency shelter for over 8 years, and I loved it. I gave it my all day-in and day-out. I worked tirelessly and with great compassion, and I absolutely changed lives. And I am entirely grateful for that experience.
My then-boyfriend worked more than I did, and we also worked really hard together for four years to pay off all our debt, including ALL our student loan debt, by following Dave Ramsey’s plan. Totally worth checking out, my friends. It was NOT easy, and I would certainly do a few things differently, but we were diligent and it worked. All of my student loans have been paid off since 2013, I believe. And I’m not talking about a small amount of money – I had a MASSIVE amount of student loan debt. I definitely do not recommend going into debt like he and I did. Such a burden!
When we were almost done paying off our debt, we decided to get married. We’d been together for well over 11 years. We eloped, just the two of us – I say eloped, and we did, but it was all very well planned out. Then we went to visit our family in Michigan for a few days. All very simple.
During the 13 years this post covers, I did a lot, I accomplished a lot. It was all about goals and moving forward in life. Did it all go as planned? Nah. But, I’d say it went according to God’s plan. I learned a lot in my twenties, and I probably unlearned just as much. Meaning, I came into my own, I started thinking for myself, making my own decisions, deciding how I wished to view the world. A lot of the beliefs I grew up with ended up changing drastically. I think that’s what happens, though, when we reach the space of growing into who we are.
My twenties involved a lot of growth. And the good news is that the growth hasn’t stop. If you’re wondering if I’m still the dark-on-the-inside, bright-on-the-outside girl…I am. I mean it all very lightheartedly though.
When I say I’m dark, I really just mean that I have a side of me that no on really sees. The me that blasts my music in the car and absolutely goes all car ride karaoke. I absolutely know and sing every word to In the End by Linkin Park and SO MANY other songs I love so much.
The me that is CONSTANTLY thinking, which I avoided for years by burying my head in books. The me that overthinks everything. The me that builds walls around my heart. The me that has so many layers that there isn’t any one person who knows ALL of me. The me that does everything in my power to protect myself from hurt, but really all I do is hide my hurt from others. The me that writes and writes and writes to get it all out. Or the me that hides everything from everyone to avoid a lot.
BUT, the good news I that I am learning, growing, changing, and evolving, because I choose everyday to do the work necessary to be better today than I was yesterday. I’m not perfect, nor do I give the appearance anymore that I am. I’m over it.
So when I say dark, what I really mean is complex and layered. I know I say I have walls and layers, and I do, but I also know that it all disappears when I allow it to.
As for the other side of me, I am entirely bright, loving, and happy. I am probably one of the kindest, most soft-hearted people you will ever come across. I think my kindness is absolutely my strength. Has it gotten me hurt? You bet. But, I still choose it every day. I 100% believe in the goodness of others. I believe in helping others and seeing them be their best. I believe in being someone’s bright spot. And that’s why I maintain my positivity for others.
Still today, I try my best to maintain a tough exterior, because it’s my protection, but I really am a wonderful person. And I feel entirely blessed to have traveled the journey that has brought me to where I am today. To who I am today.
I know I left out SO MUCH in this post, but it’s already so long. So again, thank you for sticking with me! Part three coming up on Thursday.