I am 32-years-old today, celebrating another year around the Sun. Reflecting back on 31... what a whirlwind in the best and worst ways. But, hey, I can honestly say that I am happy. I say that so plainly because, well… it takes time. It takes time to be happy; To figure out how to be kind to yourself. To not just choose that happiness, but to feel it most unapologetically. It's taken me time and probably 32 years to get here.
Turning 30 was rough. Knowing that my 20's slipped away and I didn't feel like the decade was fulfilling. It was even harder dealing with a divorce this past year, something I never thought I'd ever had to experience. My 20s were brutal. A constant battle with myself, judging my weight, my style, my desire to be as cool, as hip, as smart, as “whatever” as everyone else. And, although I traveled an envious amount, I struggled with inner happiness. My teens were even worse; grappling with how to fit in, and what that also meant. As a child, I also never quite fit in with my peers. Being Latina and someone who never exactly looked like the stereotype, I found it hard to fit in with kids of my own background as well. Kids can be mean. I fell somewhere in between the mix of it all of being accepted and not. The shy little girl then hadn't had blossomed into a social butterfly yet.
But, I wouldn't change anything. Not one bit. These experiences have shaped who I am.
“You need to know that you’re enough" the words my mom, friends, family have all said over and over to me. A mantra that has now engrained itself so profoundly within me that not a day goes by without hearing it chime in my head. So much so, it is a mantra I write at the start of my week in my bullet journal. It wasn't until a solo trip to London and Madrid that it made me realize... I am enough. I am exactly who I need to be and exactly where I need to be. For the first time in my life, I can honestly say that I am 110% comfortable in my own skin, doing my own thing, and owning every single part of it, without apologizing for who I am.
You need to know that you’re enough. That five pounds lost won’t make you happier, that more makeup won’t make you prettier, the trendiest bag or shoes won't make you cooler. That the now iconic saying from Jerry Maguire "you complete me” honestly, isn’t true. You are complete with or without a partner. You are enough just as you are. I can honestly say that being very open about my struggle with self-image, entering recovery for an eating disorder, and most recently my divorce has helped me gain perspective as to who I am, and what I want in life. My divorce more so than anything has opened my eyes that I am enough.
So for my birthday, here’s what I would like as a gift: I want you to be kind and compassionate to yourself.
I want you to challenge yourself. I want you to stop gossiping, to smile a stranger, to try a food that scares you, to buy a coffee for someone just because, to tell someone you love them… and then to tell yourself right back.
I want you to find your happiness.
I did, and it’s never felt so good.
I am enough.
You are enough.
Cheers, to another year of life!
Valerie is a San Francisco native who loves overall health and wellness. She content creator and recipe developer, helping brands in the Fitness, Health & Wellness space tell their stories through gluten-free, mostly plant-based food, life + travel.