I named 2014 the Year of Hope. It had been 10 months since my five-year relationship ended and I still found myself wanting to scream and/or cry every day. I felt like a shadow moving through the motions of my life. All I could do was hope it would get better. It had to get better. But rather than just sit back and hope that hope would find its way into my life, I wanted to make it my focus every day. And so I made 2014 entirely about finding hope. Just two weeks into 2014, I woke up and decided I had nothing left to lose; why not follow my dreams? And so I started working 70 hours a week between two jobs to save up for a trip around the world (which, as you may know, I am currently 3 months into).
I named 2015 the Year of Adventure. It was remarked that I had cheated since I was going on my trip around the world. Of course I would come across adventure. But you can travel without being adventurous. You can travel to Paris and sit in a hotel room on a computer the entire time. Sure, you can say, “I went to Paris!!” but you can be in Paris without experiencing Paris. Especially since I’d be traveling alone, and it’s easy to get lazy and unsociable when you don’t have anyone encouraging you to go outside your comfort zone, I wanted to push myself to really adventure. I wanted to hop on buses with no set destination, meet a group of people and join their plans, end up in places and countries I had never intended to visit, meet people I’d know for the rest of my life. I wanted to really adventure, not just check off countries and cities visited on a list.
As I was driving through the snow-covered streets of Norway in the beginning of December, I spent the quiet hours thinking, What do I want for myself in 2016? How else can I push myself to do and be better?
It didn’t come to me until I came across this quote a few weeks later:
“You will always be too much of something for someone: too big, too loud, too soft, too edgy. If you round out your edges, you lose your edge. Apologize for mistakes. Apologize for unintentionally hurting someone — profusely. But don’t apologize for being who you are.” —Danielle LaPorte
You may not know this about me, in fact you may be downright surprised, but I am often apprehensive to be myself.
I know. Loud, outgoing, sassy, selfie Sammie? Afraid to be herself? Nooooo.
Even my dad, who knows me better than anyone, was surprised when I told him this on our roadtrip in September.
I fear that I am simultaneously too much and not enough. That I am too loud and too emotional, too sassy and too sarcastic. Not kind enough, not loving enough, not ambitious enough. And I’ve come to realize I’m not alone in this fear of being myself.
By seeing people who I love 100% for who they are struggle to be themselves, I’ve realized how sad it is that we are constantly trying to be someone else or a different version of ourselves. Because isn’t it always, always, always to please someone other than ourselves: a boyfriend/girlfriend, our parents, the cool kids, society?
Only I can be myself, (and only you can be yourself) and by trying to be someone other than myself I am neglecting the world and the people who love the real me of that true self. And for what? To be liked by someone who doesn’t deserve my love? To alter myself for someone who still may not like the altered me?
No. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of “I’m sorry” always being at the tip of my tongue, of dulling my edges to please people I don’t like very much in the first place or who don’t deserve my friendship (if you can call it friendship when you can’t be yourself with someone), of quieting my loud laugh so I don’t offend the table of onlookers next to me.
I was put here on Earth to be this unique version of a person. And if I die tomorrow, what will the world have gained if I was only a watered-down version of that person? Nothing.
But what if I was unapologetically myself? What if I laughed when I was happy and cried when I was sad, without being concerned of what the people around me would think? What if I saw myself through my dad’s eyes, my mom’s eyes, my brother’s eyes, my best friends’ eyes and loved myself the way they love me? What if I lived my life the way I saw fit – without questioning myself at every turn, without wondering if that life would be acceptable in society’s eyes?
That is why I am naming 2016 the Year of Being Unapologetically Me.
I want to apologize for being unintentionally (or intentionally) rude or cruel or hurtful. I want to apologize for being thoughtless and for running late and for forgetting a birthday. I want to apologize for what I said when I was hungry or drunk. I want to apologize for not remembering to ask about an interview or an event you coordinated. But I do not want to apologize for being myself: for laughing too loud and being too emotional, for loving people so much I want to cry, for following my dreams and leading an “untraditional” life, for still thinking about my heartbreak, for writing about love, for singing Taylor Swift at the top of my lungs and for asking to pet every single dog that walks by me on the street, for taking too many selfies and groupies (the group form of selfies), for eating sweets every day and for needing coffee before talking, for talking about Alaska all.the.time and for showing you an entire photo album of my dogs.
So, get ready 2016, because I plan to be 100% Sammie in all her loud-laughing, terribly punny, long-hugging and love-writing glory. I hope you love her. If not, that’s OK too. She’s not everyone’s cup of tea. But if you do, she’ll love you right back, fiercely and loyally, forever if you let her.