There used to be a time long ago where I unintentionally surrounded myself with people who didn't have my best interests in mind. They would constantly ignore my boundaries because I was too scared to establish any. As time went on, the patterns of toxic people around me grew even more to the point where I had no choice but to face reality; If I didn't develop some kind of standards in my life, I would never be happy. 

    The hardest part about being honest with yourself is realizing that once you take a step forward, you can't go back. Once you raise your standards and realize how liberating it truly is, you will never be able to approach your life the same as you once did before. As my relationships began to crumble because of the pressures I was forcing myself to carry, I did my best to bottle up my concerns and not express myself. For me, it was better than starting a fight because I had been around too much of that growing up.  
    It took getting hurt many times by friends, partners, and family members, for me to reach a tipping point. It took going in an out of depression, isolating myself to figure out my own inner truth just to grow into the woman that I am today. For majority of my life, I felt like I didn't have a choice or the right to disagree because I grew up being the youngest amongst three sisters. Whenever I wanted to do something my own way and my sisters didn't agree, they would turn against me which always made me question myself. I had a fantasy of living my life exactly as I wanted to and this thought reassured me that I'd get to one day. Years later, I was able to do just that.

    When I moved to Baltimore from Texas for the first time at the age of 19, I was scared out of my mind. I only had a few thousand dollars in my bank account and I was moving to a state I had never been to -  I didn't even have a place to stay. I just saw one picture on google that impressed me and I decided that I was going to move there. As scary as it all was, it was the best decision I had made for myself in a long time and one I will always cherish. Living on my own and building up my own worth made me realize once and for all that I had something to offer this world.

    It was this point where I learned to welcome going out of my comfort zone. I took advantage of my own independence by doing things I had wanted to do like trying new hobbies. I made an effort to speak my mind more often, even if it was just to order at a café I had never been too. The more I dipped myself into this new world where I was the rising star, the more I enjoyed my life. Many around me criticized me for being impulsive or distant even, but I was finally living my life and I was actually happy.

     Going out of my comfort showed me who I really was. It pushed me to try new things, but also showed me how valuable my own company was. I gained confidence within myself, I improved my own spirituality, and life just overall started to become much more enjoyable. I came to realize that trying new things and giving myself new experiences made me feel free. If I was faced with an issue constantly, I'd push myself to face it. If I wanted to do something badly enough to where I couldn't stop thinking about it, I'd push myself to finally try it. 

    I came to see my life as a big game that I could only win if I at least tried to play. For majority of my childhood, I felt like I was constantly being cornered, only existing in someone else's shadow. Going out of my comfort zone felt like an internal battle (because it was) but when I saw how much happier I was in the end, I wanted more. Slowly, my fears and insecurities drifted away and I became eager to improve myself. I wanted to learn more about this girl hiding within me and watch her grow into someone I could admire and present to the world proudly. 

    So leave your comfort zone if you want to see how exciting your life can truly be. Empower yourself to be your own best friend and you will always feel supported in everything you do. Be the best you can be no matter how much criticism or judgement you get from the outside world. Your life is your own and it depends on you to be there every step of the way. After all, even stars shine against the darkest night. 

Until next time! xoxo - Sarah


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