I turn 22 today. Honestly, at 16 I didn’t think I was going to get to the age of 22. I was very depressed. Haunted with depression and suicidal ideation. 22 felt so far away. On my 20th birthday I had a mental breakdown due to school and general stress. My mom knew I needed help. That’s when I started receiving treatment for my depression and anxiety. Later that year, I fell in love for the first time. Something I thought I wouldn’t live to experience. 21 was a tough age. Exactly seven months ago my heart was broken for the first time. Not only my heart but my being was completely shattered. Four months ago, I graduated college. Another milestone I didn’t think I would ever see. Exactly two months ago, I moved away from my home state and started my first adult job. Exactly one month ago, I moved into my own apartment. I accomplished so much at 21, I didn’t think I would ever live to see. I feel like I am beginning to find my way and to fulfill my purpose in life. Since I was 15 knew I wanted to be a designer, I wanted to create beautiful things. Not only that, but my ultimate dream was to work in the fashion industry. At 21, my first job after college, is a graphic designer for a sustainable fashion brand. I could not be more grateful for the opportunity I have been given to pursue my dream. As I have grown I have realized I want to create so much more. I want to work in whatever creative endeavor I can, and create as much beauty as possible. Not just in the design field. I have grown so much mentally and spiritually and I cannot wait to continue to grow. Sometimes it gets really lonely. Not having a friend nearby or lover to hang on to. The world may seem bleak. Sometimes it seems like it’s getting worse. Hate and discrimination around every corner. But sometimes you meet likeminded people. People with open minds, people who are accepting, people who are willing to fight for their rights and the rights and lives of others. People who cherish our earth, who see the beauty in the universe. People who are on your same wavelength and exude positive energy.

I have never been so happy to be alive. I spent my entire childhood and teen life, wishing I was dead. I’m 22, and I am happy to be alive. I am happy to be where I am. To be doing what I’m doing. To have great people in my life. I still have so much to work towards and so much to achieve. I am so happy I didn’t give up, so I can continue to grow and become the person I am meant to be.

Illustration by me. 22, A Self Portrait.