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We all experience setbacks in our life, times when we would love to pull the covers over our heads and stay there, warm, safe, protected, blissfully unaware of what is happening outside of our window. When life, perhaps everyone in our world, just feels like it’s weighing far too much and we’ll just deal with it all another day.

It didn’t dawn on me until just yesterday when I realized that we are closing out a decade, and while I won’t dwell in the past, that very same past taught me more than any book, movie, speaker, ever could. It taught me some harsh lessons, heartbreaking ones of rejection, loss of love, loss of family connections, but, it also taught me how to fight, to stand up, take steps necessary to rebuild, often from the inside out to at last embrace who (or maybe what) I’ve become today. Like others, I too struggle with defining myself. I was never one to fit the categories.

Looking back on the past ten years, I can’t even remember where I was in 2009. I think it was a blur. I had just started my blog back then, I was a struggling writer, the blog being a project to keep me busy while I was recovering from unemployment. I used what fashion and beauty industry skills I had, wrote pieces to support local business and designers and started marketing myself. Networking was big back then and women entrepreneurs were just hitting the scene. It was the days of pre- boss babes.

I sat front row at many a show, dined almost for free because I was writing about someone’s business. I was featured in local magazines, invited to press luncheons, and met many a celebrity. My first Twitter follower and friend was an expert in the beauty field, to this day, after ten years, I still call them my dear friend. I’ve done interviews with brand ambassadors, senior makeup artists, and then some. My little blog opened up the door to something so much bigger than I ever dreamed possible and forged lifelong friendships. These were the days of Fashion’s Night Out, Project Runway, Front Row Fashion by Vogue and young emerging designers that became household names. I started writing for beauty companies and became a brand ambassador myself. After that, I began writing for a few digital magazines doing entertainment and fashion, and the rest became history, eventually, I branched out and embraced my more creative side in writing, but still use the knowledge that I gained out there, hopefully to put it to good use as an editor going forward. It took chutzpah, it took putting one foot in front of the other when I’d rather be running in the opposite direction. I swallowed every fear, and trust me, to this day, I still get nauseous when I have to do a live phone interview.

Now, all of this didn’t happen overnight. It actually took ten years to get there. I had some really good people who believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself. What made a difference is that I went through some very deep changes. 2017 was my year for learning, discovery. I finally became curious about what I could do, and maybe exactly how I wanted to do it. It was an awakening to embrace my own talents, to not be afraid to put myself out there, to take those chances. Yes, I felt like a wobbly little puppy trying to take his first steps down the stairs, timid, pulling back, thinking I couldn’t do it. I wanted to initiate something in my life, but was afraid to take that leap, accept the challenge. I had to be willing to look deep inside, ask myself what I was afraid of, overcome those doubts and learn what I was truly made of. I had to look at all the garbage I had heaped on myself, I needed to look it in the eye, stare it down and accept the person who looked back at me in the mirror every day. I didn’t really like her, heck I didn’t even really love her, but eventually I saw more than the past, I saw a future, one that I was worthy of having. What I am truly saying is that I wanted that dream and I was willing to kick fear out of the way, because what if I succeeded.

Maybe I found “it”, that magical place that we all feel comfort in. We have it, we just have to reach far enough, dream big enough to find it. 2018 was that year for me. It was a year of growth, it was the year I dared to say I have this talent, this is who I am. I made peace, I forgave, both others and myself. That’s the hardest part, to say I’ve made mistakes, but that’s okay, and reinvent oneself all over again. That is how I found success. Everyone tells you to keep trying. It works, trust me.

For me, the most profound year was 2019. It was the year I learned the art of letting go. I removed the drama, the people who, for lack of a better term, were dragging me down their path. I found like minded, kindred souls who had been on a similar trail as mine, and I learned to just flow with life, gather in what was good and just detox from the things I had to fight to hold on to. I stopped, I sought peace of mind, room to breathe, and I changed my perspective. I changed how I saw things. I no longer worry about the things I cannot control, I focus on being a protagonist, stepping up in the way that someone stepped up for me, being a voice out there to lead, to help, to show others that they too can find their purpose, because, it has been within them all along, all they have to do is finally see.

It took me ten years to learn that, to feel it, to see it. Do I have regrets? Nope, everything shaped me. Yes, there are still some tears, but it no longer hurts. That’s how I know I’ve healed. I can smile and say “bring it on.” I’m ready. I outgrew that old mindset, the one that always tried to please everybody else.

So here’s to the next year. I know there’s so much more ahead and I’m excited for what it can bring. Possibility. It’s out there. You just have to want it enough to do what you know is true for you. Instead of fretting over the next ten years, how about challenging yourself to face them, knowing that they can be the best years of your life.

Give yourself credit and a virtual pat on the back. You’ve accomplished far more than you think you have. Keep at it.

Happy New Year. Here’s to potential.