Reflections on 26

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Even though I’m getting older, I still love my birthday. The festivities are becoming more low-key every year, and I enjoy using it as a time of reflection. It’s a time to be grateful for where I am, and think about where I want to go next.

This year I’m thinking a lot about my relationship with myself. This past year has been an adventure both outward and inward. I moved to a new country where I knew no one and it allowed me to get to know myself in ways that I could not by staying within my comfort zone.

The old cliché of traveling to “find yourself” is enduring, but I believe it misses the mark. I didn’t travel to Spain, or Austria, or Greece to find a version of myself I thought was missing. However, through the process of escaping my comfort zone, I fell more in love with myself.

As I get older, I’m realizing more and more that the most important relationship in your life is the one you have with yourself. During adolescence and young adulthood, this relationship can be at it’s most fragile. Outside forces are always telling you how to be, that you’re not good enough, and that loving yourself is vanity. I always thought that I could improve myself into a version of me I would love. A little tweak here, a little work there, and voilà! I would be the woman I always wanted to be.

It’s not finding yourself and it’s not sculpting yourself into an ideal, it’s just loving what’s there. The more time I spend on this earth, the more I love being with myself. Self-love is a process, but I’m trying to work on it little by little. My mantra for 26 is, “I am the woman I’ve always wanted to be.” After all, no matter what happens, you will always have you.

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sheaish

Shea is the photographer, artist, and blogger behind Sheaish.com. She lives in Madrid, Spain teaching English and traveling through Europe. When she isn’t awkwardly taking photos of herself in public places with her tripod, Shea enjoys drawing, eating ice cream, talking about her dog, and watching 30 Rock all the way through for the 18th time.

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