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The idea of describing myself as broken makes my confidence and optimism vanish. It disregards my resilience, the healing that I’ve done, and the strength that I feel. I may have felt broken at times, but I’m whole. In fact, I’ve never felt more whole in my entire life. I am, however, grateful for the things that have broken me along the way. I’ve said that before, but this time, I actually mean it. I can see myself twenty years ago, taking a drag of my cigarette, and saying something like, “Yeah, I’ve been through a lot, but it’s made me who I am today, and I like who I am, so it’s okay.” But the truth is, I didn’t like who I was. I didn’t even know who I was. I had spent much of my time trying to be what other people wanted me to be or, more accurately, trying to be what I thought other people wanted me to be.

Twenty years, eight therapists, and countless memoirs and self-help books later, here I am. Not broken, not shattered, not a mess to be picked up off the floor, but a whole person. And I absolutely mean it when I say that I’m thankful for every experience because each one has led me here. And here is a place of growth and encouragement. It’s a place of self-acceptance and kindness. Here, I’ve learned that it feels a million times better to know that I like myself than it does to wonder if someone else likes me. Here, I’ve learned that being true to myself, though frightening at times, sets me free.