Here is the story of last year:
In 2021, I moved into my own apartment, fell in love, fell out of it, was hospitalized, restarted hemodialysis, shaved my hair, testified before congress, visited my grandparents, had my surf trip canceled, learned how to surf, made new friends, reconnected with old ones, adopted Jojo, started a poetry program at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, became a contributor for Mahogany.com, discovered yellow is my color, was incredibly suicidal, worked with the best medical team, watched too many shows, cried too many nights, ordered too much takeout. I stayed close to my chosen family. I tried. I stayed.
I was a mess. That’s the thing about growth, it is uncomfortable. It is uncomfortable to believe you are worthy of love after heartbreak. It is uncomfortable to look in a mirror and name your beauty without a hint of doubt in your voice. Last year was a crash course in self-love. It was an alarm clock of awareness — the notification to put myself first, to say if I opened my eyes and took the first breath, I won.
But what is self-love? How does it show up?
When I was younger, I knew it like a best friend. I was unashamed, untamed, unapologetic, but something happened. Someone said I was less than, and I kept it as truth. Someone stole my wild, and I became a quiet rage. Someone abandoned me, and I have yet to feel safe alone.
I have called myself the ugliest names while holding myself close. I have minimized to fit anywhere that would call me home.
Sometimes I think the lupus is a result of all this unhealed hurt — being left when I was a child, not knowing who my father is, the sexual assaults, the disease. All of it one big reason to choose myself, to search for my freedom, to figure out how to love this woman I am becoming — this little girl who deserves more laughter.
So, what does self-love look like when no one is watching? When you’re born into a sad story? When the world is a sad story? When there is chronic illness and untouched trauma? When you are addicted to the feeling of someone who will stay?
My friend Matt once wrote: “I don’t believe you need to love yourself first before loving others. I think you just need to love first and learn to include yourself.” This year I want to learn how to include myself. That is my liberation. That is why I am here, and I will hold onto that.
My favorite place in the world is on a swing set. It is the closest thing to flight — to being above the ground, to silliness, to play, to freedom. In 2022, I want freedom. I hope to laugh, keep going, start a podcast, finish the book, be okay with not finishing the book, be okay with saying no, rest without guilt, call my father, get a TV show produced, twerk a little more, play The Sims a little more, be kinder to my body, be a good friend, get closer to a kidney transplant, date Andrew Garfield, do the best I can with what I got.
As we enter 2022, I hope you rest and reflect. I hope you rearrange and renew. Last year was many things and you made it through. Be kind to yourself. Be easy on your heart. Who knows what’s around the corner?
Here’s to us doing the best we can — to us staying in bed or completing that task or falling in love or choosing to be single. Here’s to the plant parents, the barely-got-anything-in-the-bank, the winter surfers, the Netflix marathoners, the keep-going, the self-lovers.
Take it in. The mess of being alive and human and figuring it out. Here’s to another year in the books, another chapter being written. I see us. I love us. I am so, so damn proud of us.