26

My 26th year was my most pivotal yet. And not in the way that people say that each year was more than the last, but in the way that it was the most pivotal ever, by a long shot.

My relationships have vastly changed since last August. I went from being in a very serious 7 year relationship to being single. It’s been an adventure, but I’ve learned more about myself that I thought possible. And I’ve never felt stronger than when I made that decision to choose my happiness, not what was easiest. Unfortunately, a distance has come between my two best friends and myself, which is something I’ve struggled with the last few months. We’re at different places in our lives, with different priorities, but it’s still been very difficult. Thankfully, at the same time, I’ve rekindled old friendships and started new ones  with some awesome ladies who are constantly reminding me not to sell myself short in any type of relationship, and share a lot of the same values as me.

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I spent a lot of time focusing on those closest to me, my family, and made trips all across the country to spend time with them, and was fortunate to have many visitors as well. I’ll never be able to understand how I was blessed with so many amazing people to call my fam.

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I also learned a great deal about making tough decisions and dealing with the consequences. Saying goodbye to Lily was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I picked her up at 8 weeks, took her out to the bathroom in the middle of the night (multiple times per night), got Pepto BIsmal pink all over myself, her and the kitchen floor when she was sick, took her to the vet and loved her with all my heart. All of these were parts of puppy ownership that I struggled through, at times by myself. I still miss her every day, but am proud of how I’ve not dwelled on the unfairness of it all.

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I’ve learned something about my own level of self respect, and what I will and won’t take from another person. Knowing when to say enough is enough is important and something that will help me in many situations in the years to come.

For my future, I also made some big decisions. I bought an awesome house that will be a great spot for entertaining and living the next few years of my life. I also committed to working 3 nights at my second job, ensuring that I can live the lifestyle I want to live, despite my public school salary. And I’ve embraced the belief that experiences are more important than possessions and made an effort to focus my time on seeing and doing as much as possible.

Armed with this year’s experiences and lessons, I see myself being even stronger and more secure as I turn 27. And I’m excited to celebrate today how much I’ve grown up.

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