27: you have been my favorite.
People say getting older sucks. And in a sense, I honestly do feel a little bummed out when I think back to how easy life was when I was 16-17, but this past year was different. This was truly a year of profound self-discovery, freedom, and growing up.
I'm pretty cheesy and love doing little retrospectives during milestone moments in life; birthdays, a new year, etc. As I walk right into year 28 today with my head held high, I felt like it was time to take a look back and celebrate.
This was the year where I OFFICIALLY fell into the demographic of "late 20's." That blows my mind. Unfortunately, I think our society does a pretty bad job of preparing its youth to fend for themselves in the real world after 20+ years of living in such a structured environment where your next move is pretty cut out for you. So at this point, you definitely need to have your ish together, according to society, haha.
I think the liberating part for me is that I no longer feel that pressure to live up to the world's standards. I have something else driving me and that is the identity Jesus has given me.
Going into this past year with that truth in tact, I think I had one of the most fulfilling years to date. In every regard. Read on past the jump for the 10 most valuable lessons revealed to me and the milestones that I'll be remembering forever.
A Retrospective at 27
& hopes for 28
- 2017 marked my first FULL calendar year at Naseem Events. I started my business officially in April of 2016 and do count that as my first season for sure, but this was like solidifying it in place :) I did 15 weddings at amazing venues all over the Bay Area + booked my first out of state destination wedding for 2018!
- I did five styled shoots and all were published in various blogs that I had not yet been published in.
- I got word that three of my real weddings will be published in big name blogs nation-wide in the coming months :)
- Weddings are already booked (and continuing to be booked) for 2018 and I'm getting more and more exposure and opportunities to go more in depth with design and creative direction when it comes to these events.
- I was interviewed on The Real Female Entrepreneur Podcast and received an overwhelming amount of positive feedback and support from the topics I candidly discussed on the episode.
- My vision for Naseem Events has become so grounded in its place this year. The more clients I have the pleasure of working with, the more clear it becomes to me why I do what I do. On top of the fun of the actual planning, my goal is to be that breath of fresh air for my brides. I want to provide them peace, patience, and a listening ear to get through one of the most pivotal seasons of their lives. To me it's so much more than getting a menial task done but to leave a lasting impression. I believe we have all been called to create and it's an honor for me to use my talents and abilities to have established my own business that is thriving.
- I started working simultaneously on staff at my church as our Communications/ Connection Ministry Team Lead which has been SO life giving. I now fully understand what it means to be working with purpose and on mission. How lucky am I to work two jobs, each of which have such a special spot in my heart? This role at Awakening Church has changed my life in such a personal way. I have seen God use a gift He's given me for connectivity and empowerment to encourage and activate those around me FOR His glory.
Your early 20's suck. It gets better.
- Hold on tight to that truth (I promise, it's the truth). But save yourself the time, effort, and pain of riding the roller coaster of emotion and seek to figure out WHO you are. Not who your friends say you are, not who your job says you are, and definitely not what society says you are. Your identity is not correlated with your circumstances. Stop trying to do things to impress others or gain their acceptance. Be unapologetically you. I went through some of the darkest seasons until this became clear to me at age 26/27.
Comparison is not the thief of joy; the "triple E" is:
- Hear me out. The old adage above has always been my go-to mantra. I've struggled with the joy-depleting repercussions of comparison for so long, especially in my 20's. But then I dug into the root of this issue further and realized something. Comparison is not the root of the joy depletion; in fact comparison on a straight forward level is pretty objective. I can compare that my friend is a size 7 shoe, but I am a size 9.5. No real emotions stirred there. But when you dig into what comparison is rooted in is when you can tackle exactly WHAT is depleting your joy. I like to call it the "triple E" -- envy, expectations, and entitlement.
- When we become jealous of what someone else has and start coveting // when we let our expectations get the best of us and begin comparing (oh well I did X for my BFF's birthday but she only did Y) // when we let a sense of entitlement about what we DESERVE get in the way -- these are all the root of the joy loss that comparison brings. I think this was one of the biggest lessons I learned this year. I began checking myself each and every time the comparison reared its ugly head in my emotions and realized that every single time, the emotion was rooted in one of the 3 E's. The key lesson here is first identifying which E it is and then getting outside your own head and uprooting the pride that our flesh keeps us in. We can't do it on our own. I think this is where I might lose some of you, but that's ok because this is simply my revelation. So often self-help theories of thought teache us that it's all about within. Our mindset. The energy we take in. The type of person we choose to be, etc. It makes it ALL ABOUT US. That's a lot of pressure, right?
- Friends, it's not about us at all. It's about JESUS. In my own flesh, I am a mess. Simply put. Yet when I choose to actively pursue Him each and every day and look at the amazing grace He bestows on me with my new form and identity, I am amazed. I am liberated. I am free. When we choose to let Him take over, we surrender the crap that drags us in the mud. We surrender the entitlement, the pride, the envy, and the expectations. Because it's not about us. I've been challenged this year to think in an UPWARD / OUTWARD mindset, vs. inward and downward (focus on me and myself). I am reminded of two of my favorite verses in the Bible: "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!" (2 Cor.5:17) // and once we believe we are a new creation, what do we do? -- "Let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know God's will for you; which is GOOD and PLEASING and PERFECT." (Rom.12:2). How freeing is this? I want to walk in this new perspective daily.
Friendship is a verb not a noun:
- I've made some of the tightest friendships I've ever had in this past year. Some who had been in my life for over a decade and our bond just went to that deeper place this year. Others who I met earlier this year who now feel like life-long friends. I realize now the importance of having friends in your life who are intentional with you. Who challenge you. Who force you to look in the mirror and check yourself when you're walking in your flesh too much or you're letting distractions get in the way of the beauty around you. One life mantra that has become my M.O. = quality over quantity when it comes to friends. Being an extrovert and extremely relational, this has always been tough for me. But I felt like God taught me this year the difference between investing in people vs. investing yourself in too many people.
- Not everyone deserves your whole heart. No one can meet the needs and expectations you feel unmet inside. So don't place that burden on people. BUT, friendship is a verb. It takes work, effort, and reciprocation on both ends. Value yourself to invest in the few who meet you in that sweet spot and show up for you. Let go of anyone bringing you down or not making you feel valued. And seasons change. Expect that reality (don't learn it the hard way and let it come as a shock to you. Been there!).
- I read this article that said, "There are friendships that belong in different places and at different times, with different versions of who we are. Because a friendship’s time has passed does not mean that it was not and is not important — still. Sometimes the only way to get to have a forever friendship is to let it go in the form that it was and allow it to take on the form that it needs to be — all the while holding it steady in your heart."
- Above all, just LOVE selflessly. That's all I want to do when I meet people and when fostering the friendships already in my life. I love love; and I love hard. But with that, remember to protect your heart. I think for me, experiencing God's love on the daily more tangibly this past year is truly what's led to me being able to love expecting nothing return because it's just out of the overflow of my heart thanks to Him.
You have NOTHING to prove. To anyone:
- I'm a work in progress. And one thing that's been/still being demolished is this complex of caring too much for people to affirm me/accept me/want me in their lives. It took a few really nasty experiences but I was able to come out shining bright. This was a year of the negative, forcefully being sucked out. Wow just writing that reminds me of the quote at the end of Mean Girls where Cady talks about sucking the venom out of her life.
I never thought I'd get deep with a Mean Girls reference, but there it is.
- Often times we don't realize how much that venom is blocking us from living our best life. The venom can clothe itself with the glitz and glam of allure (i.e. being well-liked; on social media or real life), and it will suck the life out of you over time. Biggest turning point for me has been realizing my self-worth and learning to protect my heart. Remember, your story is valid and worth hearing. It's GOOD to be vulnerable. Do it for the right reasons though. Not for affirmation from others, but because you want to showcase who you are // apart from the filters social media places on us (or that we ourselves place!). Finally: You have been created uniquely and are loved by a God who DELIGHTS in blessing you. Believe that. I realized the absolute biggest take away for me is choosing to DAILY walk in the freedom and security I have through Jesus. Those are the two concepts that will bring me full contentment and confidence through my life. "When our lives tell others that He is our greatest treasure, He begins to look as great and glorious as He truly is. He made us to show His glory and by showing us more of Himself he planned to make us the happiest people who have ever lived"
When you trust in Him and who He has called you to be, you begin shedding the layers of societal expectations and living for others' approval.