A year ago today, the woman in this photo had so many plans.
She knew what her next steps were. She knew what she wanted, and she knew how to get there. She felt strong, successful, optimistic, and so damn excited. She was about to turn 26 years old, going to become a mother, kick ass in her career, finish paying off the debt she’d been working hard as hell to get rid of, and continue adding to her and her husband’s savings for a down payment on a house. Plans were made, actions were taken, and everything was freaking fantastic.
And then life happened, like it always does.
The woman in this photo lost her car, and freedom, in a staggeringly expensive car accident eleven months ago. She also published her first traditional book with one of the biggest publishers in the world at the same time, celebrating with the realization she could do this.
The woman in this photo entered her third year of marriage completely unsure if there would ever be a fourth as communication broke down and pains surfaced they didn’t know how to handle. She also laughed, loved, and lifted up her husband anyway, despite the tears she cried in private.
The woman in this photo suddenly became her home’s main breadwinner, and the debt she’d been paying down skyrocketed back up, their savings gone. She also doubled down and worked harder, wrote longer, and made it work without ever letting the world see her sweat.
But she did sweat, and age 26 dripped away with it.
The woman in this photo did celebrate her fourth anniversary two days ago, not with fancy dinners or sweet nothings, but in the early morning hours with her husband’s hand gently rubbing her back as she cried and tried to breathe through the pain of her third pregnancy ending too soon…again. She sat in the nursery that has been empty for months and re-read their adoption rejection because now they only had her income to count on, and being a (successful) author apparently isn’t considered stable.
The woman in this photo is still miscarrying right now as the camera snaps away, but she’s smiling at the children in the coffee shop and eagerly awaiting holding her friend’s newborn this weekend. She smiles and says “Soon!” every time people ask her when she and her husband will finally start their family, and she tries not to show them how their questions break her.
The woman in this photo wrote 5 books this year she is very proud of, including one that is a terrifying venture into uncharted waters and she’s unsure if any publisher will even want it. She’s also two weeks away from her next book being published, and she’s still working 16 hour days, 7 days a week, and making ends meet, and she always will…somehow.
That same woman turns 27 years old tomorrow., certainly not a big milestone to most. But to her? An entire year of her life is gone, and some days it feels completely wasted.
She has no answers. She has no plans. She has no idea how anything is going to work out, and maybe that’s how it was always supposed to be.
Maybe as you get older, you actually know less. Maybe once the plans and the assumptions and the arrogance are stripped away and you realize you actually don’t know a damn thing…maybe that’s when you finally figure it all out.
The woman in this photo spent the last year losing everything, but at the same time, learning who she is and being okay with who that turned out to be. She knows what she wants, and she knows she has zero idea how to get it, or if she’ll ever have it, but she also knows she’s never going to stop trying.
The woman in this photo won’t have a big party for her 27th, and be hurt when only a few people show up, because she’s learned how valuable her heart is and not to give it away to people who didn’t ask her for it in the first place. She’ll have a tiny dinner with her closest friends and feel so much love, she will probably cry a little at how wonderful it all is.
The woman in this photo hates what she’s been through, but not where it’s taken her, because maybe this was always the path she was meant to take to find herself. She is still married and very vulnerable and it’s absolutely terrifying, but wonderful, because they’re no longer two kids in love, the world be damned, but figuring out how to be adults where love is also commitment and work, and so much stronger and intimate.
The woman in this photo no longer apologizes for what she thinks and feels, instead, embracing her uniqueness and the fact that not everyone will like her. She knows her limits and she tries to respect them, while still fumbling in the dark to figure out how far they stretch.
The woman in this photo feels a strength in her new, hard-earned self that allows her to open her heart, her truth, her pain to the world in this story and is not afraid of the consequences. She’s broken and whole and hurting and healed and everything she wanted to be that she never knew to reach for.
The woman in this photo turns 27 tomorrow.
She knows nothing. She has nothing.
And that’s everything.
Edited to add this amazing photo by a reader! Love! Feel free to share 🙂