I am turning thirty years old tomorrow.
I spent the first half of my twenties battling an eating disorder, and the second half of my twenties learning to love myself.
I felt like an outsider in the tiny town I grew up in. I was always too loud. I asked too many questions. And I had too many opinions. I could be socially awkward, uncoordinated, and though I shone in college, I barely graduated high school. I didn’t think I had anything to offer, and I spent a good portion of my life believing that it was impossible for anyone to love me unconditionally.
To fill this void, I set crazy big goals for myself and then chased after them with all of my might. I thought achieving those goals would bring some sort of fulfillment, and that I could outrun the parts of my life I couldn’t control.
I graduated from college with honors and landed my dream job at a big PR agency. I traveled the country, stayed at fancy hotels, met celebrities. I doubled my salary every year for five years straight. I had my blog featured on the New York Times, was interviewed on NPR, and had my writing published on Forbes.
But I hated myself.
I spent those same years emotionally lost, trying to control my food intake as a substitute for control over my life, drinking too much in hopes of numbing the pain I didn’t fully understand. My days were packed — working, taking classes, raising my son. And then I would tuck him into bed, drink until I forgot I was hungry, and work into the early hours. This was my secret. I was accomplishing so much that people assumed everything was fine.
Here’s a picture of me at one of the lowest points in my life:
I was a high-functioning addict.
I didn’t ask for help until I realized I might not survive without it. I scheduled a therapy appointment that started out with me explaining that I could only afford to see her once a month. I told her things that I had never said out loud to another person. At the end of the session, she offered me discounted sessions if I would agree to see her twice a week. She would be losing money taking me on as a client, but she was willing to do that if I committed to getting better. I agreed.
With her generous help, I started getting really honest about what I wanted my life to look like, and pushing in that direction. I came to terms with my sexuality, and accepted that being gay doesn’t mean I’m going to burn in hell for all eternity. I started letting go of the people who wouldn’t accept me to make room for the people who have.
I learned how to love myself for who I am.
It was right around that time that I met Adrienne. We fell in love and moved in together five years ago. Together we’re raising two awesome, goofy young men, and building a life that lets us focus on the things we love.
I wake up every morning excited about work. Excited to see my family growing, and our community growing around us. I spent so many years trying to fill the void, and finally I feel whole.
Two years ago, I left my big corporate job and started bootstrapping a startup while serving as the primary breadwinner for our household. I’ve made a ton of mistakes while I figure out how this whole thing is going to work.
The past two years have been hard. But it’s a different kind of hard. I know, in the end, all of us will be all right. I love who I am, I know what I’m capable of, and I’m proud of what we’re building here with you.
I don’t know what the next decade will look like, but I know that I have what it takes to figure out the answer. Thank you for supporting my work, being here with me, and giving me the opportunity to pursue my dream. Please tell me how I can help you pursue yours.