You’re not broken; you’re just unhappy.

Starting my own business has been a surreal finish to a years long journey toward happiness. It started after I graduated from UT in 2014 and got an unbelievably coveted internship at Southwest Airlines.

Working on their corporate communications team, I got kudos and gained experience working for executives whose names casually dotted Forbes on the regular. There were events, there was a steady paycheck. I made friends. People called me a cruise director because I organized happy hours and events for the other communication interns. And still I was miserable.

So I left the big company and went to a small one. I loved my boss. I was needed and important enough to merit three raises and promotions inside of a year. The paycheck was growing and I actually loved working hard. But still I was miserable.

Being an adult meant I had to push through though. When I stopped being able to get out of bed, when I started eating my way through bouts of unbelievable sadness, when I felt suicidal for the first time in years, I told myself: you SHOULD be able to do this. Other people your age would kill for what you have. Push through.

And then I ended up on disability, in an outpatient group for extreme depression and my whole life fell apart around me. I was in the middle of paying for a wedding and I was the sole income for Zach and myself. I had to destroy my credit just to keep food in the fridge ( and yes that credit journey has made it super hard to start a business ).

Would admitting my unhappiness been easier than beating myself into the person that could love that life? Yes. But at the time I thought the fact that I was unhappy meant there was fundamentally something wrong with me. Because I was living the “ideal life” of a successful corporate job at 22, getting married to my college sweetheart and achieving some financial stability, I thought there was no way I could be unhappy. I felt like there was something broken inside of me that meant I would never be happy. A little of, “well if this isn’t enough, then nothing ever will be.”

Me doing a promo for my business here in Austin. I love everything about it!

Coming up on four years from that time of my life, I understand now that the only thing that was broken was the way I saw myself. I refused to validate my experience and instead wrote my own emotions off. I took sadness and called it laziness. I took the fact that a set schedule is hard on someone with chronic illness and called it ingratitude. I took my real, very honest needs in the workplace and called them a problem.

Now, I’ve built a live around those very real needs and I see now that my soul was begging me to see myself clearly and love myself well. I love working hard, but I rarely know for sure what kind of day I’ll have health wise, so I need flexibility in my schedule. I need complicated projects that teach me new things every day. I need external feedback. I need to know that the work I’m doing means something. None of these are flaws – they’re just very real reasons why that life didn’t work for me.

If you need to hear it today: you’re not broken. You’re just unhappy. And unhappy usual means forcing yourself into someone else’s idea of your perfect life. Whether it’s your parents, your bosses, your friends or just that voice inside of you – ignore the person or people telling you that you “should” be happy. If you aren’t, that’s real and deserves to be looked at. Read some of my posts on starting over and understand that it’s tough but it’s possible. You are capable of feeling something better and of loving the life you’re living.

It was the best of times; it was the worst of times.

I do not need your smallness, your timidity, your fear
I need your anger, your passion, your rage
I need your deep, round belly laugh that rumbles
through aches like epsom

Shed your sins like the skin they made you wear
Discard the armor against the fruit, the seeds
They threw at your feet
threw at your womb

You are a meteorite in a sea of diamonds
No one is made smaller by your shine
You are a goddess woven by time
You were born among the stars.

26, from me to you

I have never needed a birthday less, and I don’t mean that as a bad thing at all. The last year of my life was filled with unprecedented growth and change. I met so many new people and said yes to so many new opportunities. But most importantly as I sift through my stories and my birthday texts and messages, I finally realized the difference between the genuine feeling of being loved and just basking in the glow of any attention at all.

In my life I have made unbelievable mistakes. I have lost so much time to sadness and sickness and pain. I’ve said goodbye to friends I should’ve fought for. I’ve fought for friends I should have let go. I’ve drank too much and stayed out too late and procrastinated on the projects I wanted most. I have hurt people. I have hurt myself. The weight of all of my sins has been around my neck for so long I became accustomed to it in the way your body acclimates to a missing limb.

For so long, I couldn’t accept the genuine love of others because of those sins. I didn’t feel like I deserved even a speck of their affection. But yesterday as I read through the happy birthdays and the affection, I finally felt it deep in my bones. I finally let my friends and family’s words “rumble through my aches like epsom”.

Maybe the person I was a year ago didn’t deserve people’s trust. My actions were riddle with need instead of honesty. But the person I am now, she is good. She is strong and determined and beautiful. I cannot change who I was then; I can love who I am now. Maybe I needed the her of the past to become the me of now.

25 truly was both the best and the worst of times. I look around my life now though, and I see it filled in a way I never thought possible. Forgive yourself for who you were. You can’t change it. Then look in the mirror and give today your best. Who you are now deserves it.

Why not me, why not now?

I was a teenager during this weird time where magazines were still something the youths read and social media wasn’t really the dominant force of how we intake information. I grew up in a small town, relatively isolated from mainstream cares. The women around me were kind, but almost uniformly looked down on ambition. I honestly never remember hearing a woman being admired for anything but her beauty or her kindness.

The combination of these factors and the reality that there weren’t really outlets questioning the images we put into young girl’s psyche led to a sort of idolism of perfection that rears its ugly head often for me still. I thought the ONLY successful people in life were size twos, established, came from money, had money, had fame, had a beautiful partner. Don’t even get me started on the heteronormative ideals on femininity I ingested in gulps from the first step I took into youth group.

Black and white thinking ordered my life for a long time. Either you are successful or you are not. Either you are a failure or you are not. Either you are skinny or you are fat. Either you are white or you are Hispanic. Either you are smart or you are not. Either there is a God or there is not. I steadfastly avoided gray areas. I think many of my own struggles with religion came from the inability to find a theological framework that answered every question I had succinctly. The same type of thinking bled over into my ideas about myself.

The leading thought that kept me out of acting for over a year was, “Once I lose sixty pounds, then I will be ready to be an actor.” In my mind, if I wasn’t willing to starve myself for that goal then I wasn’t willing to make the commitment necessary to be a “real” filmmaker. When I finally made myself go out for auditions, I blamed every failure uniformly on my inability to play a thin, quirky girl (which is still an obstacle because of breakdowns written by casting directors blind to social realities). When I got cast for my first short film that would later be selected for SXSW 2019, I was at the heaviest I’d ever been. Walking onto set, I was certain that everyone would be disappointed in my existence. It was that same thought over and over again, either you are perfect or you don’t deserve this opportunity.

It was the same thought over and over again: Either you are perfect or you don’t deserve this opportunity.

Little by little as I got one gig that led to the next, I started to maybe believe that I needn’t reach perfection to continue doing this thing I was obviously good at. I went to classes to improve myself, continued to workout and struggle with my weight. I got used to the constant rejection inherent to acting. SXSW 2019 happened and I got to be a “real” filmmaker for the week – I had a badge and everything to prove it. I wrote and directed and produced my own short. The momentum of success was enough to silence the doubts that plagued me in between projects.

Then I got sick. The momentum was gone. I left my agent when the audition requests stopped coming altogether. I found myself at this same point of needing to believe in myself again, and I felt like I just didn’t quite have the juice for it anymore. My imperfection was a barrier to entry back into the game. It didn’t matter how good I felt, I felt like I had to convince myself and everyone else all over again that I was worth the invest of time and belief. Time passed. I hadn’t applied to any new agents. Hadn’t had any new projects. The weight I had put on during the sedentary lifestyle of illness made me feel like I had fallen backwards.

During our trip to Cancun, I began to ask myself who my role models are now. Unlike the teenage girl I was a decade ago, I have quite a few. Misha Collins is a philanthropist and actor I respect. I love Jamila Al Jamil and iWeigh has honestly changed the way I think about my body. Bryce Dallas Howard is this badass director who is strong and powerful and feminine. So I cleaned up my Instagram feed and let it be filled with people (both celebrities and friends) whose lives looked like what I wanted. Not perfection, but fulfillment. Commitment. Passion.

Universally only one thing was true of all of these people I admire: they weren’t perfect. Some even actively pointed out their flaws in an effort to humanize the idea of celebrity. I hate the idea of “Celebrities, they’re just like us!” (because they aren’t – their personal trainers, chefs, assistants and housekeepers will tell you so). But I finally had found in work and online people who were in the throws of building their life into something meaningful. I wasn’t left with the hollow image of the “final result.” The thought finally hit me, “Why not me?” If I work as hard as these people have at something I’m innately talented at and absolutely love to do, why can’t I build my life again. Whose opinion am I afraid of? Is my fear of failure so powerful I will let it dictate my life?

Failure is such a loaded word anyways. Is it not attaining perfection like I fantasized about as a teen? If so, we are all failures. None of us exist in that perfect state outside of Photoshopped and sanitized essays. Maybe what failure really meant was not even trying. When I asked myself what I was more afraid of, never having an agent again or never getting off of this couch again? – I realized that if I didn’t try, I’d never forgive myself.

So I’ve applied to agents. I’ve applied to some roles. I’ve reached out to a director I’m working on a project with. I’ve started writing the essay for my friend that sounded too important for someone like me. I have as of yet received no gold stars. But I’m trying. I’m giving every day my best, no matter what my best looks like that day. When I ask the question: Why not now, why not me? At least I know the answer will never be because I stopped trying.