I’ve spent most of my life fighting to fit in. I was always “too much” for someone, and most of the time I would say one thing and take the next hour analyzing why I should have said something different or why I felt the need to speak up in the first place.
Mostly I just thought my opinion wasn’t as well-versed or in-depth as anyone else’s. It took years of building up my self-confidence to finally come out of my shell, combating against toxic people who spent their time trying to silence me and fit me into a mold.
But now, after 20 years of fighting, the mold has cracked and I’m over it. I’m over the stereotypes, judgements and drama. I turned 20 years old just last week, and if I’ve learned one thing over the course of those two decades, it’s that I am never going to be truly happy unless I am being unapologetically myself, 100% of the time.
Being unapologetically myself means doing things that I have always wanted to do, but never felt confident enough to actually go through with. I know now that I’m never going to be in the “perfect place.” I’m not going to wake up one morning and suddenly have everything figured out. That’s why on a whim I decided to do the Disney College Program (DCP) next semester.
Basically, the DCP is an internship in the “happiest place on earth” where college students go to work and get access to the parks in return. Realistically, I know this is just an opportunity for Disney to get cheap labor from broke students, but as cheesy as it is, the DCP is a dream of mine. I’ve always wanted to work for Disney in some capacity.
I kept telling myself that I had to wait, or that it was dumb to want to go to Walt Disney World for a semester while other people were traveling to places like Barcelona, Amsterdam and Norway. But I’ve been so much happier since accepting my spot in the DCP, and it’s because I’m living my life the way I want to. I’m being me, for the first time in forever. And people have noticed it too. I’m more outgoing; I’m more spontaneous and open-minded about meeting new people or going to different places. I’m genuinely less anxious about walking into an unknown situation. I think that’s because I’ve finally realized that I’m not living for anyone else.
So, long story short, that’s the message I want to put out into the world: Never apologize for who you are.
Be stupid and crazy and even a little naive. Make mistakes, but own up to them. Don’t ever apologize for loving something childish or liking the music you do. Go to your favorite cafe three times a week just because you can. Take chances. I know I did when I applied to live in Orlando for five months. Be kind, but don’t ever let anyone take advantage of your kindness.
Dress in clothes that make you feel confident and comfortable. Buy cute clothes and little gifts for your friends. Celebrate every holiday. Live in the moment. And laugh all the time. Smile so wide that you shock the world with the sheer joy plastered on your face. Because there is a lot in this world to be sad about, but there is more to be grateful for.
I know this is all very cliche, but I’m owning it. This is my life, and I refuse to live it in fear of what other people might say about me. Of course there are days where I still care about the whispers; where I hide in my room imagining everyone I’ve ever loved talking behind my back. But that’s not what I want out of life. I want happiness, family, love, fun, adventure and just a little magic. I want to be the best possible version of myself, and there is no way for me to do that if I’m living in my comfort zone.
I destroyed the mold of who I should be to become the woman I want to be. The girl who loves her family and friends more than anything, who cries at every single Disney movie, who goes on spontaneous adventures, and loves Christmas and who isn’t afraid to do even the scariest things, knowing it could be one of the best choices she’s ever made. Because I’m finally doing it for me, unapologetically.