i still have my hustle, but i fear i’ve lost my voice

A funny thing has been happening to me lately, but I don’t really know how to talk about it. I’m going to try, but fair warning, it probably won’t come across as being very coherent in this blog entry. Which seems to fit exactly the point of writing this, but…

All my life, I’ve pushed myself to get (or become) what I’ve wanted. It didn’t come naturally: my mom loves me but she’s also very hard on me, and more in the harsh way than the super tough love way. From the time I was in middle school, she pushed me to be more than I could be, to find my best self. It’s exhausting, and it caused me a lot of pain through the years, but it worked — she’s the reason why I went to a great college, cared so much about grades in school, and applied to graduate school when I was already considered “old.”

All my life, I’ve put myself first in instances where I could have yielded just so I didn’t hurt people’s feelings. (This sounds bad — what I mean is, I’ve put myself first when holding myself back to make someone else in my life happy would have been a detriment to me personally). I’ve gunned towards what I want and grabbed it (eventually.) I worked – I still work – hard. I hope my passion for what I do is apparent enough so that people look at me and believe that I’ve earned my place in the world, despite what the Internet tells me about my looks and talent.

Some of it is on me. I think too much and I worry too much. I haven’t had this job for a year yet, but already, I’m frustrated because I feel like it’s hard for me to get promoted, move up, and make a difference. I realize how silly that sounds, so I’m trying to make a difference by being the best that I can be in the moment – making myself the most capable person for my job, being the most confident person I can be, in order to show everyone that I belong here.

You can see where the problem comes in.

I still want to be the best I can be. But my confidence – my ability to stand all, talk confidently, feel like I’m on top of the world even when I’m not – has sort of disappeared. Sometimes it’s there, but mostly it’s not. And I don’t know how to get it back. I don’t know how to feel that confidence again. To stand tall and talk without stuttering, stammering, losing my words for no reason. I feel like when I’m sitting at my desk, I’m shrinking into my seat, just there, not…doing anything. Or being anything. I focus on the things I’m not doing that I don’t have a chance to do because of other people’s responsibilities and feel stunted. I don’t know what to do about it, or how to stop it. In the smallest sense, I’m trying to start a weekly streaming chat with a good friend about our favorite web show – and I’m hoping that forcing myself in front of the camera will make me more comfortable speaking in public, something that I’m not necessarily BAD at but something that I don’t feel like I’m doing well. I started playing in a work D&D group, which I hope will make me feel more outgoing and more comfortable speaking up and speaking out, even if it’s in a silly voice.

In a bigger sense, I’m trying to make each day positive as much as I can. There’s a lot I can’t change in terms of what I do every day and the amount of responsibility I have/don’t have, but I can try to shift my brain and thinking so that I’m taking control of what I do and making myself important and worthy. It’s hard, though. I’m a person who always feels like she needs to and should be doing more, being more, and being better. The fact that I’m not at the top of the pile, at my age, frustrates me and makes me feel more than a little small. And I’m very aware that personal issues play into this — I am constantly struggling with how to, in the words of Eliza Hamilton, “be enough.” I am trying to forget about the things that push me back and focus on presenting myself as independent and important.

If I’m not my best advocate, who will be?

If I’m not my own voice, whose voice will speak up for me?

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a happy new year

Well, since we’re basically halfway into 2018 and I’ve done a rather terrible job of blogging in the last few months, I should write about those reflections/goals/resolutions I mentioned awhile ago, right?

Right.

Last year, I adopted the practice of throwing the word “resolution” out the window because I didn’t want to be held to making myself “better” by doing certain things. That’s something of a different beast, independent of whether I eat less or drink less or save more money. I wanted a list of things that I could potentially accomplish and work towards, whether it was something small (drinking more water) or big (write a book/comic.) When I wrote out what I had in mind for the year, I titled it “2017 Things To Accomplish” so it would stick in my head more like actual goals and not pressured improvements.

If I look at this page at a glance, it’s easy to see how many blank boxes there are instead of ones that are colored it. And yeah, I put a lot of lofty goals on there, not knowing if I’d actually accomplish them – but why not?

I may not have interviewed all of my “dream core four” (Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans) or covered an awards show, but I DID interview Scarlett Johansson! In person! At a premiere of her movie, on a red carpet! I stood in front of someone I’ve admired for ages, one of my favorite actresses, and talked to her and asked her a question and she directly responded to me – and I didn’t even fall over! I may not have published or sold a book, but I queried, got an agent, and started submitting to publishers. I may not have completed the “Coast to Coast” challenge because of timing and laziness, but I did run my second half marathon at Disney. I may not have written a story at my “dream” publication, but I did write numerous celebrity cover stories for a luxury magazine, in what has become a great anchor client, who have allowed me to continue to write for them every month. I didn’t read once a day, but I did read more this last year than I have in awhile, and I’m so glad I got my head back in the game where good literature was concerned.

And just because there were things that didn’t happen, it doesn’t mean that I won’t stop doing them – or trying to do them, even in a year that will be otherwise filled with wedding planning. I still would like to try to get myself in a position where I have the opportunity to moderate or sit on a panel at a con. I’d still like to travel overseas or to somewhere fun (at least I’ve got my honeymoon destination, if nothing else). I’d still like to do things I’ve always wanted to do even though my career has shifted in a way that they’re not readily associated with them anymore, like visit a movie/tv set or write a comic.

This year, I took a page from my friend’s book and divided my goal list into different categories: personal, financial, professional and mental health. I may add more as I think of them, I may not – but as I learned last year in getting my dream job and interviewing one of my favorite A-listers – nothing is impossible.

Oh, and I promise to be better at blogging. Promise.

a year in reflection

I know 2017 wasn’t a good year for a lot of people, for a lot of different reasons.

But in that same different way, it was a good year for me.

I got a job — my dream job, in my dream company — after over a year of unemployment. I got engaged. I started to write a book, got literary agent representation, and went on submission. I interviewed Scarlett Johansson in person on a red carpet, fulfilling a long-standing professional goal of talking to one of my favorite actresses face-to-face. (I still listen to the audio file and kick myself because it’s REAL.) I officially came out as bisexual, something that was a long time coming but that I felt like I didn’t have the courage to embrace, not until Supergirl showed me that I wasn’t alone.

2017 wasn’t great all the time. I had some major mental health setbacks. I’m still in major debt and struggling with those consequences, and angry at myself for not being able to make headway on anything no matter how hard I try. Before I got my dream job, I took an absolutely horrible job at a place that I hated, which made me miserable. Friendships that I thought were long-lasting drifted away in a very distinct show of true colors. My book got rejected from publishers in two separate rounds of submissions. I felt in some ways removed from my friends I loved so much due to different reasons.

And the world at large just flat out sucked. Comics twitter was exhausting, and there seemed to be dread everywhere I looked, and I saw it manifest itself everywhere: in my friends, in text messages, at work. I buried myself in writing, in newfound obsessions like Critical Role, in the fandoms and happy places that I’ve always turned to. I cherished the moments that I got to spend with the people I loved.

I’ll post eventually with a summary-type thing of the year, based on my goals and stuff that I set back in January. But in my Passion Planner, there’s a section where you’re supposed to keep notes of the good things that happened during the week. While I was unemployed, I used to lament to Shelly that I had nothing to write about that was good, and she reminded me it didn’t have to be something like “did good at work” or “got another freelance job.” It could something as mundane as “had a nice conversation with a friend” or “petted some cute dogs.” As I went through the year, I tried to chronicle things during each week — some mundane, some not — and while I’ll eventually post a summary-type thing based on the goals and stuff that I set back in January, I decided compiling those things in one large list here is the biggest way I can give insight into my year.

  • Lunch with Eileen twice
  • Got a cover story assignment
  • Shelly’s back!
  • Paid bill hanging over my head
  • Planner date with Shelly
  • Went to the gym twice/ate healthy
  • Women’s March
  • Skype date with Jill
  • Positive feedback about my writing
  • Got responses from book queries
  • Spent time with Eileen
  • Had serious boyfriend talk
  • Got asked to write more on proposal
  • Got another job interview
  • Long lunch with Eileen
  • Had engagement talk
  • Got good response from agent/publisher
  • Set up call with publisher
  • 2 interviews!
  • Agent phone call
  • GOT AN AGENT!
  • SIGNED WITH AN AGENT!
  • ANNOUNCED MY AGENT!
  • GOT A JOB!
  • Started a new job
  • Buffy Burlesque
  • Margs with Hayley
  • Snow day (slept in)
  • Got package from mom
  • Sent proposal to agent
  • INTERVIEWED SCARLETT JOHANSSON AT THE PREMIERE
  • Got to see Margie
  • Finally paid a lot of overdue bills
  • Brunch times with Candice
  • 80 degree weather
  • Got to spend time with Ali and Kayleigh
  • Saw mom and dad
  • Got lunch and wine twice with Cate and Eileen
  • Hopeful interview at Marvel?
  • GOT MARVEL OFFER!
  • STARTED WORKING AT MARVEL 🙂
  • Got to see my back-up bunnies
  • Good week at work
  • Felt better about stuff at work
  • Got to see dad
  • Got to see Eileen, Cate, Alix and Christine!
  • Booked Disney trip!
  • Saw Wonder Woman!
  • Drinks with Eileen
  • Had a good night with Esther
  • Black Panther trailer was AWESOME
  • HeroesCon and my back-up bunnies
  • Finally posted fic
  • Eileen’s birthday!
  • Saw Chip and Candice and Bri
  • Ran 3 miles
  • Good interview with Danika
  • Got official SDCC confirmation
  • Good email from my boss about work stuff
  • SDCC and seeing my slothes!
  • Cuddles with Jill
  • Got good interviews/reviews from colleagues at SDCC
  • Jill’s Facebook post about friends
  • Turned 35!
  • Spent birthday with family and friends
  • Good vacation weekend with family
  • Disney planning night with Katie
  • Had a good chat with my agent
  • Drinks with Sina!
  • Went to Disney!
  • Noelle’s birthday
  • Saw Groundhog Day
  • Got to see dad
  • Spent Rosh Hashanah with Shelly and Ziv
  • Fun XWP podcast recording
  • Ren Faire
  • Critical Role essay getting love
  • Laura’s DMs and Matt’s tweets
  • Jess and Danielle got married!
  • NYCC!
  • Saw Chip and Marvel friends
  • Wine night with my girls
  • Finally ran
  • Got some good book work done
  • Saw some cute dogs
  • I GOT ENGAGED!
  • Meeting Ashley Johnson at the Blindspot event
  • Celebrating with Eileen
  • Everyone congratulating me on my engagement
  • Ran my SECOND half marathon!
  • Boss was in a good mood at work
  • Saw Becca and Dan
  • Family time at home
  • Booked wedding stuff
  • First wedding dress shopping trip
  • Got wedding stuff done
  • Took a mental health day
  • Met AlphaFlyer for dinner!
  • Got a wedding photographer
  • Had a good therapy session
  • I SAW A STAR WAR!
  • Won the raffle at holiday work party
  • Made progress with wedding planning

So, yeah. In the words of Lin-Manuel, it was a “bit of a year.”

wait for it

This is a post about many things, but the subject title can apply to all of them.

Wait for it.

Roughly a week ago, I got engaged. No, I didn’t cry. Yes, I kind of expected it, but I was wary of believing my suspicions, so I was still really surprised when it happened. I’m just not used to things actually working out the way I envision them. It’s strange when you spend so long thinking of things associated with huge life moments and then they happen and you’re forced to confront the fact that suddenly, all your thoughts are REAL – your daydreams of your dance with your dad, how you’ll feel when you’re wedding dress shopping, the things you’ll buy for your bridal party. The next few months are going to be a whirlwind of stress and money anxiety and things happening really fast, but it’s HAPPENING, and I finally feel like my life is slotting into place in some way.

Wait for it.

2016 was one of the hardest years of my life. I was the lowest I’ve ever been in terms of my mental health. I was miserable, even after I got on medication to help my depression. Freelancing was only taking me so far, and I was the only person I seemed to know who had left my current job and couldn’t get snapped up by a new one (even after interviews where I came so close, but not close enough.) I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, or what  I was supposed to do. I was broke, in my mid-30’s, and yeah, I had a serious boyfriend and great friends but I had no job, no savings, no ring, no kids, and no hope that any of that would happen in the immediate future. There was a point where I couldn’t see any kind of way my life would improve, and I spent a lot of time angry about decisions I had made in my past, where I had let people control my life in some way. I was never entirely suicidal, but I did think about what would happen if I just never amounted to anything, and what if I just walked into traffic one day? Would it be so bad? Hey, maybe at least my student loans would get paid with insurance or something.

I was really, really down. I started looking for any kind of job, even if it wasn’t what I wanted to do, and I felt like I was out of college all over again — just trying to find someone who wanted me. I finally took a job that made more money than I had ever seen, but I was absolutely miserable and hated everything about it. Two weeks after leaving that job, I lucked out with my dream job, through a series of events that can only be described as serendipitous. Sometimes I think about how long it took to get here – the long hard waits of being patient while other people got their due, working all my connections, never giving up on pursuing what I truly wanted. I still have issues with the fact I’m here later than I was supposed to be — an obsession with my age will forever be a cog in the wheel of anxiety that slows down my mental health — but I recognize how lucky I am to be where I am. After a long time, I’m finally where I’m meant to be. I’m happy. I love most of my coworkers. I love what I do and I feel like I can work towards a brand and a career.

I’m also a girl working professionally in comics who is being taken seriously. And that’s pretty rad.

Wait for it.

When I started my journey to get published, I got some luck in a way most people don’t – I had immediate interest from a publisher and got an agent pretty quickly, despite not having any experience selling a proposal or a manuscript. After months of working and revising, I was excited to hopefully have some bites…and got rejected by all publishers that looked at my project, including the one who initially seemed interested. Going back to the drawing board and feeling like I had nothing to offer sucked, and getting back on track took longer than I wanted it to. But I hit the ground running, revised, and months later, I have revisions that my agent praised as the strongest so far. My proposal is currently on its second round of final edits, and hopefully will be sent off again soon. I don’t know what’s going to happen, and I can’t predict if I’ll be any more successful, but I do feel more confident about putting it out into the world.

Wait for it.

Last year, I went through a period where I wasn’t sure who I wanted to be. I wanted a life that I saw reflected in other people, religiously and otherwise. I still want that life — I still want things that are harder for me to have because they won’t come naturally — but I think I’m getting better at realizing I don’t want to be the person I thought I wanted to be in certain ways. I don’t need to be like other people who I think have it all together. I like my life the way it is. And yeah, I wish there were things that were different about it. But it’s my life and what I know. I can accept that. Or try to.

Wait for it.

Reflecting and looking at my life as it was a year ago, it’s amazing to realize how different things are. Nothing is perfect — there are a lot of things that aren’t perfect, and there are things that still aren’t great. But there’s also a lot of stuff that’s good. And yeah, it took awhile for things to swing up, but they did. I’m glad I kept fighting, even when it was hard. I’m glad I kept going, even though I know it’s going to continue to be hard.

I’m glad I waited for it.

 

critical role

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This show has been one of the things that has saved me, and my biggest regret is that I didn’t find it last year when I was unemployed and going through my lowest points of depression, because it probably would have saved me a lot sooner. It’s my own fault, really.

But I did find it eventually, and it didn’t take long to get obsessed with it — the show, the characters, the story. I couldn’t ignore how it made me feel and what it started to mean to me, and I decided to do the only thing I could do to explain myself: write.

Because I’ve kind of graduated from the journalist lifestyle with my current job (even though I’m still freelancing on the side for a few anchor projects, yay money) I didn’t know where to put this. I didn’t really want to put it on my personal blog because I felt like it deserved its own separate platform. I pitched a few places I had contacts at, and they seemed interested, but nothing really happened or it was implied that posting it somewhere would take awhile. So I posted it on my Medium account, which was not where I had actually wanted to post it, but it was the only place that worked.

The response that followed was something I couldn’t imagine. Aside from the actors themselves picking it up and sharing it and reading it (something that awes me, in a grateful way), dozens and dozens and dozens of fans came out of the woodwork on Twitter to tell me how much of themselves they saw in this piece. The piece was supposed to be a thank you to the beautiful cast of Critical Role, but people were thanking ME for writing it and putting their feelings into words.

Maybe Critters just really are the best community ever, maybe what I wrote was better than I thought it was (we’re all our own worst critics when it comes to our talents.) But if I had to reminded that I’m not alone, Critical Role has done that in more ways than one.

And you can read it here: https://medium.com/@andrea.towers/heres-why-critical-role-is-my-natural-20-28714309fdea

this is the story of a poster and a dream

It’s been awhile since I’ve blogged (my fault) and I’ve realized that with a few exceptions, most of my blogging lately has been — though positive and optimistic — not quite “upbeat” in terms of subject matter. So, today I’m going to talk about something that’s both personal and fun, because with Spider-Man: Homecoming on the horizon and press junkets circulating, I’ve been having a lot of feelings about Robert Downey Jr.’s career trajectory as Iron Man and what that means to me, personally.

I’m going to talk about this poster.

This poster used to hang on the walls of Entertainment Weekly. It now hangs in my living room, but that’s not where the story starts. The story starts a few years earlier, at Northwestern, when I was in graduate school. Going back to school was something I had wanted to do for awhile, but it took some time, because I hadn’t known what I wanted to do. By the time I settled on journalism — having gotten some cred as a freelance entertainment writer/blogger and realizing I wanted to pursue the career full-time at someplace like Vanity Fair (or, my dream publication, EW) — I was old.

To be fair, there was a good range of age in my cohort, and some of my best friends are people who are my younger sister’s age. But I had just turned 30 when I went back to school, and while I tried to embrace the good things that came with age (experience in work and life, having lived on my own and made mistakes with my independence), it sometimes felt like a setback. Here I was, restarting my career all over again — I had worked in publishing and spent five years in non-profit — and most people who entered the publishing industry did so right out of college, becoming senior editors by the time they were 27/28 years old. I was doing things so late, and I couldn’t help but feel anxious about that, even though I was proud of myself for being in one of the top-rated programs for my career.

My Master’s program started in January of 2013 and lasted for a full year. In May of 2013, Marvel released Iron Man 3. I was a fan of comics and a fan of the Marvel franchise, having seen other films throughout the years. The difference is that aside from The Avengers, which at the time warranted a long analytical Tumblr post about my favorite parts/actors, I watched and enjoyed and that was it.

I’m still not sure what it was about Iron Man 3 that made a difference. Maybe it was just that it was a really good film. Maybe it was the fact that it made me feel so good, and forget everything I was stressing over, and gave me enjoyment the way a superhero movie should. Maybe it was because that movie demonstrated Tony’s very human vulnerabilities, including anxiety and depression and PTSD, at least one of which was lingering in my body at the time when I didn’t fully realize it. Whatever the reason ultimately was, it made me walk out of the theatre, snap a reaction picture for Twitter, and then return over the weekend — for a double feature, when my roommates asked me to go with them, unaware that I had gone to an earlier showing. (I lived directly down the street from the movie theatre, which was pretty sweet. Also, Midwest prices as so much nicer than NYC prices. Also, STUDENT DISCOUNTS FOR MATINEES. Bless.)

I saw the movie at least twice more while it was still in theatres. When I needed a distraction from my work or stress at school, I loaded up on press tours and interviews I had missed because I hadn’t been paying attention. I knew RDJ as an actor, I had seen dozens of his films, and I was aware of his “less than savory” background. But somehow, thanks to timing and feelings, RDJ and Tony and RDJ’s journey to becoming Tony became my greatest motivation and biggest influence.

As my obsession with Iron Man 3 grew, so did my renewed interest in the MCU. I re-watched all the films I hadn’t seen since they came out in theatres with a new appreciation for the characters and the actors that played them. Throughout it all, RDJ was a constant inspiration, especially the more I learned about his rise to the top of the industry, and how he became confident despite his age and despite coming back into the game so long after everyone had considered him done.

I entered graduate school with one long-standing goal that had been in my mind for years, since I started receiving the magazine as a young teen: to work at Entertainment Weekly. I knew that involved getting an internship, so I kept a close eye on Ed2010 for internship openings. When applications opened in October for a January 2014 start, I set my sights on applying. I walked to the post office to mail my application with Sam Jones’ Off Camera podcast playing in my ears. As I dropped off my envelope, personally handing it over to ensure it arrived in one piece, RDJ talked about anxiety and perseverance and taking risks despite your fear.

A few months later, I got an email asking me to come in for an interview. Never content to do things halfway when it came to getting things I REALLY wanted, I flew to NYC for the weekend to be there in person (hey, I got to see my friends as well.) Nervous as all hell about interviewing for my dream job, I stepped off the elevator and was greeted with a foyer/hallway that housed an array of oversized covers from years past…including this particular poster.

I like to believe in signs. I like to think that after all that, getting off the elevator and seeing RDJ’s face on that poster — when it could have been any cover poster on that wall — meant something. In any case, I got the internship, and then a few months later, I got a permanent job at EW. When it was announced that we were moving at the end of the year, and that due to a new and smaller office space everything had to go, I didn’t entertain the idea any of the posters would be up for grabs. It seemed too unlikely that the art department would want to part with things that had been around for so many years. But the week of moving, my friend walked by my desk with a large framed photo of Health Ledger, her favorite celebrity. I jokingly said that I didn’t want any posters except the RDJ one, which they probably wouldn’t let anyone take. My friend then said everything was up for grabs.

Yes, everything.

I ran as quickly as I could, like someone running through one of those supermarket sweeps programs. I was terrified someone had realized this before me and taken it. But it was still there, and I grabbed that poster off the wall, even though it was twice my size and heavier than I could manage. I propped it up by my desk and somehow, thanks to a very nice cabbie who took pity on me hauling a huge oversized framed piece of art down 50th Street during rush hour, I managed to get it home. I felt like I couldn’t explain to anyone what bringing this poster home meant to me, and how much it meant to have it. It didn’t just represent the fact I was a part of a company I dreamed of working at. It represented so much more, and it had been with me for longer than anyone would be able to understand.

I love looking at this poster and reminding myself of how far I’ve come. I love reflecting on the fact that in a way, RDJ got me to where I am.

mental health month: a year of medication*

There’s an astrik next to the title of this entry, because it’s been technically over a year. It’s something I forget, though, because when you’re first getting on medication, it feels like forever until you find your groove. Start with a low dosage of Xanax, go to the doctor, talk about your problems, get prescribed a new medication. Maybe the new medication works, maybe it doesn’t. Maybe you need to go back and give updates. Maybe you need a higher dosage, or a different dosage. And then, you see if it works. You see if it makes a difference past the two days where you totally feel 100% better, and you see if it sticks.

And then, maybe, you start to feel good about yourself again.

And then maybe, you get the courage to become more open about saying you take pills, or you need pills, and you put it out there more on social media, and you become more comfortable accepting your mental health.

And then maybe, you think people won’t see you as an anomaly.

Anxiety and depression were in my life for a long time, but medication didn’t come into the picture until last year, for a lot of reasons — I didn’t think I needed it, I refused to admit I had a problem that wasn’t easily “fixable,” and my parents certainly didn’t provide any real support. They say things have a way of working out, and given that I ended up unemployed shortly after committing to medication, I’d say it was a very, very lucky thing that I got myself slightly straightened out before my health insurance went away. Because it was a hard year. It was a long year. Even with medication, my anxiety and depression reached their absolute lowest points. I didn’t know how to pull myself out of these funks, and it affected my relationship, my work ethic, and my motivation. I talk a lot about how comics saved me, but it’s true. When I was at my lowest, there was something comforting about being able to understand creators who worked their asses off to show the world beautiful things, who did so in an industry that is unforgiving and doesn’t pay well, and they still put their best foot forward and created things that gave me hope and courage.

Self-care and love is so important, and it’s something I struggle with. Even when I tell myself I need to give myself a break, even when I write it in my planner, I still let my mind get the best of me. I have a hard time not sitting in silence and not letting go of things. So sometimes, the biggest self-care thing I can do is allow myself to be hateful. I allow myself to hate my life, my writing, parts of my relationship, my current financial situation, my creativity, my inability to finish a project. And it’s not because I’m trying to demoralize myself, despite my low self-esteem issues. It’s a way for me to clear the air and admit to myself that I do feel a certain way, even if I’m getting better at believing in myself more. It’s a strange form of self-care, but it works for me. Mostly. Because what happens then is you feel the reality of what you’re saying, and you watch your reaction in a mirror, and it causes you to put things in perspective. You’re not hiding from your feelings or your emotions, which is often how I choose to deal. Despite being in and succeeding in professions where being pushy and visible is a requirement, I’ve never been a particularly confrontational person, always more content to play it safe and shy away from addressing things that could cause conflict.

I’m proud to say that I feel better about myself, but that I also understand the things that make me not okay. Part of that is due to finally having a job I love, and part of that is due to me being easier on myself (something I work on with my therapist weekly), but compared to where I was a year ago, that’s progress.

And the fact that I can admit that means a lot to me.