#TenYearChallenge

#TenYearChallenge. 

Open Facebook and tell me your news feed isn’t full of these posts. The idea behind it is beautiful. But, I am going to be honest. When this trend first started, it almost made me want to “quit the Facebook.” 

It took me a very long time to see the beauty of this trend. Every time I opened the app, here is what I saw: 

  • Here’s us as love drunk newly weds, and here we are with our 8 year old at Disney World. 
  • Here’s me living the single life. Look at me now–married with our two babies and cute Golden Retriever in the middle of a sunflower field.
  • Look how little our babies were. Now, they’re so grown up and driving! 

You get the point. Each and every post made me feel more and more…. “stuck”. Nevertheless, I started looking back at pictures, trying to find one, just in case I felt like jumping on the bandwagon. This didn’t help matters. Not only did these decade-old photos remind me of my “bang” phase, but they also served as a painful reminder that my guest rooms have never been converted to a nursery. 

I felt like nothing had changed. And I was embarrassed. 

But then I started thinking about 30-year-old Stephanie. While I love her (and those unfortunate bangs and boot-cut jeans), I am glad I am no longer her. Or no longer just her. Like Russian nesting dolls, I have added so many layers to the person I am. 

Thirty-year-old Stephanie was also going through fertility drugs (for the second time), but she was largely doing it alone. She was perpetually worried about what others thought of her, and she was far too ashamed of her inability to have children to really let anyone in. This Stephanie did A LOT of pretending. Pretending to be okay. Pretending to be happy. (Not to say that I wasn’t happy. I am not so tragic to say that I haven’t known happiness. I have. Undoubtedly. I am incredibly lucky. This fact has never been in question.)

When I look in the mirror today, two months from turning 40 (eek!), I am damn proud of who I have become. I am confident in who I am as a woman and as a human. I am more complex, but I communicate better. I am more empathetic. I am open to sharing my story. I find encouragement in the support of my family and friends. To put it simply, I let others love me and I love them right back. 

There are certain things that will never go away. I still cry in the shower. I still feel the guilt of holding the responsibility for my husband being childless. I still get my feelings hurt from callous remarks.  I still think about what it would be like to be a mother every single day. I just like to think I do it with a little more grace. 

So, I may not have a trendy social media post that spotlights a growing family. But, through the adversity that I have faced, and in the bone marrow that makes me who I am… I have grown–at least a decade’s worth.  And I’m not going to let my embarrassment make me “quit the Facebook.” 

(one. ten. twenty-two)

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