Yes, I'm biased. She is my niece, after all. But, truly, this girl has this honest and loving soul that reminds me of something.
This pic reminds me that we all have that inside of us. We all have the ability to be that girl. That girl who shrugs off the negative and always chooses the positive.
That woman who says, "Yes, I can do anything, but not everything." Even though, we can't do it all, what we do is with all the confidence we can muster.
This photo reminded me that I used to be like her at her age. I was once nineteen years old without a care in the world. I just wanted to find love. I wanted to hang out with my friends. I wanted to just laugh the day away, eat Taco Bell because I didn't worry about calories, and listen to music too loud and scream-sing to my favorite lyrics.
Nineteen was the age where I discovered how fricken awesome I was. I started really writing at that age. I dressed the way I wanted and didn't care if it was a trend. I danced like no one was watching. I'd walk by a mirror and smile at the beautiful girl looking back at me. I decided not to play the game anymore when I was that age. If I liked someone, I let him know. I didn't wait for him to get the nerve to call me. I had this confidence that no one could stop me. I felt that powerful braveness.
What happened to me that the confidence withered away? Why did it stop?
I don't know how to answer that. Life happened, I suppose. I started to listen to others' commentary about me. I started listening to the lies and believe them. I listened to my grandmother when she said no one would love me. I listened when my parents sent me to Peru to learn how to be a respectable latina woman. I got broken and molded into what everyone else thought was best for me...how I was supposed to be.
It took a lot of years to learn who I really was after that. I doubted who I was. I second-guessed myself at every turn. I didn't know how to blend in. I just wanted to stand out and bring back that golden, confident nineteen-year-old.
At 40, the year I vowed to be brave enough, it happened. I'm not saying that the absolutely confident girl came back. Oh no, I'm still working on that. I still care about fitting in. I still care about watching my words, but something big happened when I turned forty.
I truly and fantastically became the real me. I became an older and wiser version of that nineteen-year-old. One day, it just happened. I can't remember exactly how, but it was years in the making. I became tired of pleasing everyone and worrying about what others - that didn't really matter - thought of me.
Don't want to be friends anymore? Okay.
Don't want to have me be a part of the family? Okay.
Don't want to listen to what I have to say? Alright.
Want to preach to me that I need to lose weight? Whatever.
Think that I need to dress like someone I'm not? That's your problem.
Tell me what you think I need to act like? Ha!
And you know what I say to the haters? Your loss.
That photo did wonders for me last night. It reminded me that although I'm not nineteen anymore, my teenage self is proud of who I became. She's fist-bumping me. She's screaming in my ear, "We did it!" She's telling me how proud she is of me for not accepting the bullshit anymore. She's reminding me that I was brave all along.
Confidence is golden. At any age. You get that sense that you have become who you always have been. That light glows inside of you and you remember...
You are your own hero.