Top, necklace, ring - Target
Jeans - H&M (similar)
Shoes - Marshall's (similar)
I always thought that, before I found The One, I had to fix myself. I knew that the right time would come, eventually, but it couldn't be the right time until I smoothed all of my edges and imperfections. So I went to therapy and read self-help books and joined a gym, attempting to tone down my anger, my depression, my anxiety. And those things worked, and they were important to do anyway, but in the back of my mind I suspected that I still wasn't stable enough for anyone; and until I reached that point of spiritual enlightenment, God wouldn't bring Him to me.
Fortunately, I really loved where I was at anyway, and I was okay with being alone in my messy mind. So I focused on work and projects, and when I met Brandon, we both knew it was right. But I was still scared, for months, of him seeing the person I used to be. He had met me as a strong, independent career woman, and what if he saw how fragile and scarred I really was -- what if he saw what I had been through? Would he still love me, or think I was too broken to be around?
I had experienced it before, that feeling of being treated like a disease, and I was terrified to be quarantined again. My ex-boyfriends called me crazy when I cried, and fled when I showed emotions other than stoic happiness; my ex-best girlfriends said I was too negative after I was raped and sent one last email, writing 'take care.' So, of course, it was hard for me to believe someone who told me I was perfect just the way I was. The last guy I'd dated and actually cared about got back with his ex-fiance after three months of wooing me, and of course, I found out from Facebook.
I liked who I was when it came to my professional life. I was confident and secure in my work and creativity. But when it came to the personal side of things, I was scared to death. I couldn't bear to lose someone else. A co-worker told me I should act in my relationships as I do at the office -- like a boss. And that worked, until we were behind closed doors. That's when that side of me began to fall away, and the real me came out. The me that, to my dismay, still needed a lot of fixing.
At least that's what I thought, until Brandon said, "but you're not broken."
I don't know why I needed him to tell me that in order to believe it, but I did. I finally realized, then, that none of us will ever be exactly who we want to be, but instead, we are constantly growing and changing and working towards it, and that is enough. We are all enough, and instead of being a heightened caricature of ourselves, maybe we can just celebrate ourselves for who we already are, and be proud of how far we've come. And just because someone else was afraid of your transparency, doesn't mean that you should ever be ashamed of it.
If you wait until you're ready to be with someone, then you will never be ready. You will always feel that you have more to work on inside yourself, that you haven't evolved enough. We are all our own worst critics, and if you are trying to do things on your own time, then you will never get to where you're meant to be.
Maybe who we become isn't a destination, but a constant flow -- it is yesterday, and it is today, and it is tomorrow. It is this moment, and it is the next. We are always us, and we are always perfect, because no one is flawless and we will always make mistakes, and maybe the definition of "perfect" is that we are exactly where we're supposed to be. Perhaps there's no such thing as a quarterlife crisis; it's just life.
If you wait until you're ready for kids, then you will also never be ready. You will still feel like a kid yourself, no matter how long you wait. You will still have questions, and you will still wonder if you're doing the right thing as a parent, and you'll still face situations that you never even predicted, but you will have to learn as you go and that's the best way to learn.
I had already been through all of these changes, and so, I knew I could handle leaving my full-time job of two and a half years to focus on the dreams that I've had my whole life. It's not going to be easy, but honestly, not much has been easy for me. I actually feel, for the first time, like I might be ready. Because I have decided that I am, no matter what. It's time to live loudly.
*Photo by Landon Lambo, January 2014, in Palos Verdes Estates.