23 has been my most vulnerable year yet. I thought 22 was hard but I was wrong- this was harder but in the best way, a personal growth way. 23 was filled with the end of the school part of my Masters degree in Nutritional Science, true friends emerging and others falling through the cracks, seeing more of the world, and a shiz ton of growing. This year was filled with some of the loneliest days where my anxiety seemed like this heavy, heavy blanket that I couldn’t lift off but also so many days where I felt so much love and happiness well up in my heart I think if you looked me I was physically beaming.
(This last trip to Seattle, WA last June right after turing 23 was when my tummy got this fuzzy feeling like “Con you could totally live here” and it made the trip really special!)
*all the photos included are times where my heart wanted to burst- one of those beaming moments. I thought remembering some of those here would be fun 🙂
This was the year I felt so lost in my “career” as a Masters student because I had countless moments of what am I actually doing here? Is this stress worth it? Is living at home away from close friends and in a city I don’t feel comfortable in worth it? What is my purpose in this field that already has some phenomenal practitioners in it? I also felt so sure. This year I got almost my entire cohort willing to open up a conversation on Intuitive Eating and HAES after months of doubt and arguments. It has been one of the most amazing things to watch and see them realize that we as practitioners have an opportunity to focus on more than weight, calories, and nutrients. We can focus on helping people find true health, health that prolongs their life in all realms without weight being the focus. Physical health is just one small piece. What about emotional health and mental health. What about being socially comfortable where you are? How does nutrition play into all THAT.
(Our family Italy trip where I had 3 of the most glorious beach days I’ll never forget)
This year I finally became confident in the idea of moving post graduation in May 2019. My time back home has served its purpose for sure. I wanted to come home after undergrad in Chicago for several reasons. I missed my mom and dad. I missed my best friends. I was just starting to love Chicago but I knew my calling was my Masters degree and that degree would be done in LA through my acceptance to CSULA. My program started 7 days after graduation in June 2016 so I had little to no time to grieve that HUGE life transition of college independence to back home… to my childhood bedroom and back to where my parents cook dinner for me. I like to think that these past 2.5 years in my program have just been one big, slow transition and that now, 2 years after that transition home I’m finally coming out on top of it. I finally know what I want and what I’m here for, most days.
((mini) champagne showers for finishing 4 semesters and one quarter of graduate school- FINALLY)
23 was the year of asking for help and admitting to myself that I don’t know it all. I never thought I did but I think it became apparent how little I know about so many things, and thats ok! I thought I knew how to handle my anxiety but I didn’t. I wrote this post introducing myself to Robyn’s readers and I mentioned how I was off anxiety meds and that was a goal of mine to go back to my “normal” self. Some individuals took offense to that saying that I was saying people on meds aren’t normal and I felt horrible because that’s not at all what I meant. For so long I had never had to cope with anxiety and I thought it would stick around for less time than it has. Now I know that living with anxiety is my new normal and that’s cool. I just had hoped my anxiety was shorter lived than it was and this year I realized I think I’m in it for the long haul and walking with anxiety is in fact, my new normal, which meant I had to learn some new coping skills.
(Exploring Zion with my grad school friends was for sure a beaming weekend- I did the scariest hike of my LIFE)
I went back on a very small dose of my meds and started therapy nearing the end of my 23rd year and I think this has had the most profound impact on my life thus far. I have FINALLY gotten so many things off my heart that had just been sitting there for months. Things that I had experienced early in my 23rd year or earlier in life that rocked my world and left me forever changed but that I never really told anyone. Really telling my therapist everything was so cathartic. It was like this 2,000 lb weight was lifted off my shoulders and it just vanished into thin air. She taught me coping skills, how to talk back to my anxiety, how to be ok with not being ok. She taught me that the stuff that I had been worried about was totally legit to worry about and validated my feelings. Feeling validated was something that I didn’t know I needed so much. It just felt freeing to hear somone say, ugh yeah that is a big milestone or a crappy thing, or you HAVE accomplished a lot. I also learned that feeling my feelings doesn’t mean those feelings are true- it means they are VALID. I just grew my self confidence immensely in this process and learned that I need to give myself so, so much more grace.
(The night my friends and I saw Imagine Dragons on a whim- literally we had an opportunity to go with 4 tickets 5 hours before the show while we were at school and we decided to leave class early, caravan to my house, shower, change, pick up a bottle of wine, and head to Anaheim to see such an uplifting show- we were all beaming for DAYS)
23 was when I found out who my real friends are. The people who stuck by my side or by my ear on the phone when I felt lonely in school, lonely in a city that is so big and so unfriendly that even though I’ve grown up here I feel like I know no one anymore, the people who reminded me that I’m good enough in this moment. Being home in LA in night classes most night of the week and having to nanny on weekends so I can live my life (buy plane tickets, eat out, buy gas) allowed my friendships to really reveal themselves. Most of my friends are living their young adult professional lives and I’m still over here in school so that’s been a hard one to figure out. The wanting to be in the same place as them with working and earning a living and not having studying late at night and having weekends off. The comparison monster was so very present this year but I’ve learned to accept and honor my life circumstances and move ON. That has been a hard thing but something that needed to happen. I still have a really hard days but I know those are ok to have.
(You all know Sarah- the only human being who gets me 1000% and I appreciate her so much for it- we get 5 dollar happy hour wine margs at this place together and always leave 10 times happier than when we got there)
23 was vulnerable. This year included SO MUCH emotional growth and I’m thankful for those vulnerable times even though they often came with a lot of tears. I opened myself up to the possibility that I could be in a relationship one day (something that I told myself would probably never happen- my anxiety prevented me from a lot of kinder thoughts to myself for many years). I dated. I asked myself what my values are and I started making plans and decisions based off of those and not what other people’s values were. I started really thinking what I want- me not anyone else. What a FREEING thing that was and IS.
(Nashville– finally being back with some of my best college gal pals- live music isn’t a thing in bars in LA- I LOVED IT)
I’m scared of 24 a little bit because I’m not fully cool with getting older yet but I am excited for what this year will bring. I think I’ll be able to grow in my professional skills as a dietetic intern for the next 365 days and I’m planning lots of fun things to break the stress (Chicago, Croatia, and New Orleans are in the mix!). I’m working on that balance and I’m working on planning things that make me happy and that are out of kindness to myself. It’s all one giant work in progress but I’m excited.
(My sweet Chicago family- I got my family together for apple picking the day before FNCE started- we had a blast!)