it’s shortly after one in the morning. the exhaustion that is rippling through my veins is pretty obvious and there is zero reason for me to be awake right now. i am in this place with my emotions and my anxiety where my brain is having a hard time slowing down and turning off. i have had a tough few weeks. and i am sure that’s probably been glaringly obvious to most at this point- i mean, i have definitely cried more than once at my desk. today was in fact no exception. maybe it’s thursdays. but after several weeks of nonstop work and pressure and balancing acts and navigating it all, i think i have reached a place where i kinda had to take a pause. because i have been going into work early and leaving late and skipping lunch and not drinking enough water and ending the day with ibuprofen and none of it has felt good. none of it has left me feeling like, ‘woah, you crushed it!’ or ‘wow, so productive!’ and these last few weeks, i have been wondering what my impact is. on the youth i get the pleasure to share my life’s lessons and passions with. on the world of education as a whole. on my peers. on my friends. on the people who consider me in their circle. i am struggling with identity. who i am and why i matter. and not in a scary, woe is me kinda way. but just in a ‘who am i and what’s next’ kinda way. and it’s normal for shifts in careers and identities to happen. even more normal when you’ve kinda lost all your main identity pieces. ya know, cancer will do that to ya. but i am finding myself in this place where i want more. out of people. out of roles. out of life. i spend so much of my time worrying about other people and worrying about how people perceive me. and focusing on how i can be the best person for everyone around me. but i have failed to ask that for myself. how others can be the best for me. and how i can be better at stepping back and letting others show me what i mean to them. and letting others share my impact on them. and have other people check in on me. because that’s what i need. and that’s what is missing.

and sometimes i feel like i have to have permission. and that’s a post cancer thing. it comes with the territory. needing to ask for permission. permission to exist. permission to worry. permission to feel. it comes from being in a place where you are consumed with fear- big fear. but you want to protect everyone around you from that fear. and by protecting everyone from those big fears- and i mean BIG fears- i created a space in which i had to make sure it was okay for me to be unguarded or vulnerable or sad or scared. and those big fears were taboo and people wanted them to be safeguarded and silent. but in the moment, i was dying. and had so many moments that brought me very close to that outcome. and i felt like i had to have permission to process that and to feel that. and it feels that way nearly three years later. that i still feel the need to give myself permission. to feel a certain way. to be a certain way. to process things a certain way. and right now, my emotional processing level is just tipping the scales. i am hyper aware and overtly sensitive right now. my whole existence feels a little off base. i am worried about a lot. the future. who i am. who i am to other people. abandonment issues. career shifts. who i am as a whole. and where i fit into the world. because even three years into the mess that is my life- i am still navigating it all. i am trying to make sense of everything that has happened, what my body and mind are capable of and how i fit into all of the places that once housed a different version of me. and there’s still a lot of baggage that i avoided unpacking while in intensive care and battling cancer and having a mastectomy and going back to work and going through five separate recurrence scares and navigating the beautiful but also emotionally driven world of survivorship. and some of those things probably seem small or insurmountable. but it’s really not your place to speak on it. but that baggage has a lot to deal with the pain and trauma that comes with what i have been through. and the things people have said and done. and the things that happened and the things that didn’t. and the people who stayed and the people who didn’t. and everything that happened all at once. even as i begin to travel through year three, some of it still feels surface level. and some of it is still so painful. and some of it hurts even after all this time. and there is gratitude in much of it too. to be able to say that my experience created such a monumental shift in my world and made pathways that directly pointed people to the exit signs. but it shifted a whole lot more inside me. for me. and who i am. and what i deserve. and what my whole worth really is. as a person who has almost died now twice before the age of thirty five, i feel as though i finally can be as real as i want to be. honestly, as real as i probably should have been this whole time. but regardless, the time is now. i really no longer desire to ask for permission. everything that has happened, has granted me the opportunity to be exactly who i am allowed to be.

which means, i am allowed to ask for help. i am allowed to express my feelings and opinions. i am allowed to be bothered or quite frankly, unbothered. i can share with others that i deserve the world. i can communicate my needs. and i can create whatever boundaries i need to protect my peace. i can make choices and say no. i can cry about something, absolutely anything. i can recognize when something hurts me or if i don’t need a certain energy in my life anymore. i am granting myself emotional permission and forever permission to be whatever it is that comes after all of this. surviving is literally the hardest thing i have ever had to do. and i mean that in a very honest and abrupt way. because surviving as it exists from birth to whenever; without a whole slew of terrible things happening is pretty much a rollercoaster anyways. but when you add in some of the big billboard words like cancer and death and chemotherapy into the mix- survival after that just feels like a tightrope walk. a million chances to fall or trip or plummet to the ground. and in all of that came so many big changes and a million scary moments and a lot of free time on my hands. in which i used to slowly build my new life and figure out what healing looked like. and here we are, still healing and learning from it all and figuring out how to do all of this. gracefully and sometimes not so much. stumbling and a lot of crying, oddly enough on thursdays it seems. but in it all has been a lot of navigating who i am now and gaining a better understanding of what i deserve after walking through hell. and honestly, for the first time ever, i kinda feel like i deserve the world.

permission granted, babe. you do deserve the world. from others. from your friends. from your spouse or partner. from your workplace. from your space. from the world. it goes both ways. and we officially have permission.

claim it. xo.

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