At 30, I dreamed of being married to a loving, caring man that I could be proud of and one who respected me as his wife. I thought I’d have a baby or two to raise and give them the love I couldn’t receive from my parents, even creating my own traditions to teach them the importance of family and community. Instead, I’m a single mom of the most adorable little yorkies, divorced and a successful entrepreneur. Life happened differently for me and I’m grateful it did. I couldn’t imagine still being in an unhealthy marriage, my life could have been a disaster. The timing wasn’t right for children, and I would have lost out on all the fun adventures and risks I was able to take in my 20s.
Green Lace Dress TOPSHOP $75 // White Blazer MURAL $75 // Earrings MARCHESA // Heels ANN TAYLOR
Photography by Missy Palacol Photography
One day I’ll write a book about all the journeys and detours of my life, not because I dwell on the past, but now that it’s all been said and done, it’s interesting to see how events unfold and how even a focused mindset can result in different opportunities or outcomes. Let me just say, life is so worth all the craziness and I don’t regret anything one bit. I’m so grateful to have been able to travel on an impulse multiple times to sunny beaches in Mexico, to have had a chance to experience dramatic romantic love, to have taken risks to follow my dreams on a whim, and to be open to evolving as a person.
Making the most of everyday, waking up with purpose and doing your best to continue learning about yourself and what moves you make a big difference in the way you live your life. There will be moments you don’t make the best decisions but you learn along the way. Those difficult moments can build you up if you take the time to reflect and feel through the situation. Here are my top 5 lessons from my 20s:
- Don’t judge anyone without understanding their story – My life is really out there, people talk about me behind my back, and make conclusions about the way I live. Do they care to know why I decided to end my engagement or take a month off? No. People sometimes decide to base their opinions about others without really getting to know them. This is a very sensitive subject for me. This is why I enjoy having deep conversations with others and connecting on a more real level with clients. It always seems much easier to make a statement about someone than it is to look in the mirror and admit our own faults. No one is perfect and decisions we make are sometimes based on our past, our anxieties, our worries, or our deepest intuition. What we see on the outside doesn’t always give us a reflection of a person’s pain or desires. I know for myself there are times I didn’t make the smartest decisions, but I know at that moment in my life I made the best decisions I could with the resources I had.
- Divorce Doesn’t Define Me – After I was divorced, I felt ashamed. I chose to end the marriage due to many unhealthy behaviors from my partner and there were warning signs along the way but I decided to shut everyone out of my life so no one would worry about me. I thought that was the adult thing to do. When it ended, all the pretending hit me hard, it was the loneliest time I’ve ever experienced. Instead of taking responsibility to grow from that loss, I pretty much took a year off from my life. In my marriage I lost my identity, I didn’t know who I was as a single woman or how not to be a wife, I wanted people to know my heartache; I wanted people to know I tried so hard to make it work, I wanted people to know I was an amazing wife. At the time, I couldn’t see the greatness of my future because I had felt a dark pain that took years to grieve and finally let go. From this experience I learned my power to love, to commit, and care for someone with all I had. I know, when the right person comes into my life, I can do it over again and divorce doesn’t define my ability to make a relationship work or to find true love.
- Comfortable Isn’t Safe – I ‘ve suffered with anxiety all my adult life and somehow found the mental capability to push past my fears as much as I possibly could. It took 5 years of therapy, going on and off anxiety medication, my own willingness to open up to get help, and the full support from my boyfriend at the time to get to a more manageable place with this horrible mental illness. There were only a few months the anxiety was so bad I had to hide at home because even the thought of going out into the world was too much for me to handle, but this only happened after stopping the medication cold turkey, that’s another story for another day. I didn’t and still refuse to let anxiety hold me back from becoming the woman I strive to be. I’m the most social introvert you’ll ever meet. There are many times that I’ve cancelled on someone, didn’t show up to an event and made an excuse or even made myself busy on purpose to avoid situations that would ignite my anxious mind. It always resulted in immediately regretting it and wishing I had just shown up. The excitement and feeling I get from getting past it and accomplishing what I had committed to doing is far more gratifying than the feeling of hiding and not getting to experience life. It doesn’t happen often but I still have my days. For the most part, I get out, I go on stage, make television appearances, and set-up meetings with influencers to host events together. If I were to stay in my comfortable zone, I would be holding in all that I have to offer the world, I’d feel so closed up that I think my anxiety would be worse because I’d be bursting with ideas to share. You’ve got to believe in yourself and push forward; don’t let your mind become your biggest obstacle.
- Build Community- This became a huge lesson for me after divorce. When I was left in that lonely state I had realized how much of myself I gave to him and only him. There are beautiful moments to share with the person you love but family, community; and friendship make life even more beautiful and fulfilling. Since then I’ve strengthened my friendships through communication, getting past difficult moments, and resolving our differences. Building community is like any other relationship and it means putting effort into making time for others. Time is one of our greatest gifts and sharing it is impactful for yourself and to those you love. You’ve got to love accordingly and give the love you want to receive. If you isolate yourself, talk bad about everyone you come across, and judge them in an instant, how would you expect to receive companionship in return? If you look around and feel lonely, do the deep work and find out why you are pushing away from others. The reason I closed everyone out of my life was because I was afraid to talk about the truth in my marriage, I didn’t want people to see the hurt behind my smile, or worry about what was happening in my personal life. I was also holding on so tightly to make it work and gave into him needing me every minute. This will never happen again and I’ve made huge efforts and changes in my life to connect with others. Some of my favorites include creating fun events to bring all my friends together, reaching out to new people at church, and setting dates to meet one-on-one with people outside of my regular social events . There are so many memories to be created, people to help, and learn from.
- Create Your Own Path – Oh yes! This one is a big deal…..a huge deal. There are more times than I can count that I decided to do something to make my family happy, to make my friends happy, and in the end I realized, I’m the one waking up everyday having to live with this decision and not them. They care for a little bit, then they forget while I’m stressing out about it for weeks. Not the life you ever want to live. My business became a way for me to be authentic and share my fashion knowledge and help others feel amazing. This also came with insecurities I had to quickly overcome. I decided I wanted an office, so one day I went to see a space. I didn’t even think twice, I just walked in and in an instant I was able to envision and feel everything I could accomplish in that room. Without even consulting with my husband at the time, I signed the 1 year lease with no back-up money or plan B, my plan at the time was simply not to fail. When I started sharing with others my joy and new career path, many people didn’t take me seriously, how could you be a personal shopper? Is that your full time job? That’s only on television, how are you going to make it? I could go on and on with what people said about what I was doing and thinking it was all some joke. I was 21 years old and dressing clients that were double my age, I had to gain their trust to make their fashion decisions and manage their money. The first 2 years of having my business I dressed more conservative, less colorful, and couldn’t completely be myself style-wise because I wanted my clients to trust me. I needed them to see that I knew what I was doing. After I built a good base, grew my business and started the second one, I came out of my shell and began to dress to my personality and showed off my creative fashion side. I had finally made it, I created my own path, I didn’t do it to prove anything to anyone, I set out to make this dream I had a reality for myself, it was all I really had. If I were to listen to anyone’s negativity, I wouldn’t have this business that I truly love.
I had a dream of what I wanted for myself by 30, but God had something else in mind for me. I’m really looking forward to the next decade and just living in gratitude because I know that I’ll get new adventures at a different level of maturity, responsibility, and commitment. I’m ready!
I’d love to hear what your biggest lesson was from your 20s. Share your story in the comments below!