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My first year in business, I drew inspiration on my office window, literally with liquid chalk markers. I still have these drawings on my window today and continue to look at them for inspiration. One of the two is simple but I’m still amazed that I wrote it and how it continues to mean so much to me. It says simply, “Be unapologetically you.”

As many of you may have noticed, I went dark for a bit and had not posted anything in about a month. While dealing with some personal things, my head went into what I call, the bad place. Anxiety reared and depression followed. I know these feelings all too well. I lived with them side by side for so long, they were almost comforting friends. That is until the OCD tendencies started to seep in.

It’s funny how something that can give so much short-term comfort, such as cleaning the kitchen feeds and builds on my anxiety and depression. As I shifted my focus from how clean the kitchen was, I noticed other areas that needed attention as well. The empty box in the dining room for books I’d like to donate that haven’t made their way from the bookshelf yet. The hutch that hadn’t been dusted since June. The bits of destroyed dog toys littering the living room floor. The pleasure of a job well done was quickly squelched by shifting my focus. I could feel the old habits seeping in, the things I tell myself that I would never allow to pass by my lips if I were speaking to another.

During this time, I made it a point to go out and socialize. I went to every networking event, special occasion, and learning series that I could attend. Some of the people that I socialized with knew details of what I was going through but not all and it was what came up in discussions that I found particularly interesting. While being out in social environments and not hiding my vulnerability, others were more likely to share theirs as well.

Listening to others share, I found that many decisions were made from fear: fear of the unknown, fear of others, fear of change. This made me look back on my own life and saw that many of my decisions were made from fear as well. Meaningless little decisions to decisions I am still feeling the repercussions of today. But the big ones, the decisions that mean more to me today than what they meant when I made them, those were made from a place of love. Love for others and love for myself.

In that moment of realization, I decided to make it a point to have more of my decisions based in love rather than fear. While I may not know the long-term results of having more decisions based on love than fear, I know where my fear gets me. Feeling lost, worthless, and overwhelmed. During this difficult time, I decided to do the opposite of what I would normally do and put myself first. Some days are easier than others, and that’s to be expected but what is important is that I am making decisions based in love rather than fear and through that, I am finding that I am able to be unapologetically myself.