Me and my husband on Thanksgiving. Twenty-Eight! | Maya UnMarketed

It’s my twenty eighth-birthday and I have a few things I want to share! Here goes…

1 – Thank you SO MUCH for reading!!!

For awhile, I struggled with how much I should/shouldn’t value reader approval. There’s that old cliche about not basing your self-worth on how many insta likes you get (true!), and I wondered if seeking readership, likes, and comments on my posts was the same. I had this kind of hipster-esque worry that I was less of an “artist for the sake of art” when I worried about whether or not people actually read/reacted to/enjoyed my writing.

A few months ago, I confessed to my dad:

“It really means a lot to me when people read my blog. I try to keep my blinders on and write for myself, but I can’t help it. I love when I get likes on my Facebook shares of my posts, and I’m disheartened when I get less than I expected. I’m honored that people read what I have to say, and I’m extra honored when someone tells me it brought some form of value to their life.

“There’s nothing wrong with that,” my dad replied. “If you didn’t want people to read your content, you’d write in your diary.”

BOOM. Simple but impactful, right?

My dad’s wisdom put what was essentially guilt over my appreciation of affirmation in perspective for me. He was right: I do write to have my words read. 

I write to communicate, and there’s nothing wrong with that–far from it. I write for myself, but I also write for you, my dear readers. So thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart for reading!

2 – Finally, a great year!!!

Ages 25 and 26 were rough, y’all.

I think I will always look back on those years as a purgatory of sorts. I was done high fashion modeling, and knew I didn’t want to return to the rather ‘rexic runway. I knew I was done being away from Stephen, done being 107 pounds, done traveling on my own dime and putting my entire future into the game of casting roulette.

However, I firmly believed (at the time) that I could have my cake and eat it too. I thought modeling full-time in the Tampa area would work out. Somehow I spent two whole years living for, “When X happens.” When my skin clears, I can model again. When I get more of a “Florida model body” (more toned, and bikini-ready as opposed to just being as skinny as possible), then I’ll get more bookings. X never happened. 

Age 27 was the year I finally stopped waiting, stopped compromising, and MOVED THE F*CK ON WITH MY LIFE.

And let me tell you guys, it felt– and still feels–really great! If anyone is currently debating moving the F on (whether it’s getting out of a toxic relationship, pivoting from a deadend career path, or kicking an unhealthy habit), let me just say:

10/10 recommend.

This past year has been wonderful for my confidence. Despite battling acne for most of the year (it’s finally 92% cleared up and I promise I will tell you more about that soon!) and being less in shape than I’ve been in years, I feel really good about myself.

I’ve remembered I’m smart. I’ve remembered I’m hardworking. I’ve remembered I’m creative and observant and insightful. 

Being less of a Hot Mess Express has also been wonderful for my relationship with Stephen. He was an incredible husband during all of the hard times, but hard times are, well– they’re hard. It’s tough to drink a bottle of champagne and have sex on the living room floor on a Monday night when you’re stressed about the calories in the champagne and whether you should be spending that extra $12.

I’m not saying every Monday is a floor-sex kinda night or that our relationship is “perfect” by any means, but I will say I have discovered it’s easier for me to more deeply love Stephen when I love myself. It’s easier to feel confident about our future as a couple when I feel confident about my future as an individual. I am grateful he was so attentive, loving, and faithful during the hard times, but this past year it was incredible to finally be able to enjoy some easier times. Being a 2-income family has been great for our relationship, as has my far healthier relationship to food and my body.

Last but certainly not least, we adopted our little Myles this past year! It’s hard for me to put in words how much I love that sweet boy. I love when he comes up close to my face and stares at me with his earnest eyes (one blue, one brown!), sniffing my mouth enthusiastically, as if he’s giving me his version of a kiss. It’s a daily moment of connection I cherish in a way I can’t put into words. I love how his entire rump (as Stephen has started calling it) wags back and forth with his tail. I love how he always wants to cuddle, how he follows me around the apartment, and how he lights up when I say, “Who’s Mama’s sweet sweetie?!”

I never really understood how much people love their pets until I experienced it firsthand. Adopting my own dog with my husband felt different than the love I had/have for my childhood pets. I have totally become the ridiculous Dog Mom I thought I’d never be, and am loving every minute. 

Sweet Myles with my hubs. Twenty-Eight! | Maya UnMarketed
My sweet boys!

3 – What Will 28 Hold?

I hope 28 is all about balance and perhaps a little more adventure. 

This past year was all about re-establishing my career, which was awesome. The last remnants of my eating disorder disappeared when the last of my modeling dreams did. Those two Life Items (career and food healing) were huge. So when I say that this past year left very little room for anything else, I don’t mean to sound ungrateful or dissatisfied.

But as I look into next year, I do hope that it is more multi-dimensional.

I want to make more time for fitness, which fell to the back burner this past year as I became less focused on my body and more focused on my career achievements. I want to have both next year, and I think determination in one area of your life can help fuel another.

I want to make more time for my friends and social life, instead of letting weekday stress turn me into a total hermit on the weekends. Twenty-seven was a very introverted year for me. While at the end of the day I do identify as an introvert, I have started missing many of the wonderful people in my life and have realized that I need to be more proactive about planning social time.

I want to open myself up to a little more excitement and adventure (while still building a life) rather than bullheadedly over-correcting the hectic, unpredictable experiences of my early/mid 20’s. I am a chronic overcorrect-er and that can honestly be just as damaging as repeating past mistakes. 

I want to truly live the moment and relish in what will maybe/probably/hopefully be one of our last child-free years. I want to have some fun and be selfish before it’s not about me anymore. However, I also want to make sure we continue to save money and set those future children up for a great life.

I want to always make the right decisions about my life, rather than ever being led by my ego.

I want to discover a new part of my identity, rather than having so much of it be taken up by “retired model.” However, I don’t want to put pressure on that, either. I don’t want my fear of looking like Napoleon Dynamite’s uncle to erase a huge part of who I am, to let my most valuable life lessons crumble into oblivion. (Sometimes I wonder if identity is largely ego-driven anyway, if it’s something you primarily think about when describing yourself to someone else. Sometimes I think identity is essential to human happiness. What do you think?)

I want to open myself up to all the beautiful things age 28 has to offer. Sure, I have some concrete desires (EUROPE!!!) but I don’t want to make this post some type of laundry list. I have done all too much Life Laundry Listing in my 28 years and the lists have frequently been unrealistic, far too long, and a recipe for disappointment.

So I will stick to this little list for age 28:

  • Belated European honeymoon with my dreamboat
  • Run my first official 5k, which is also symbolic of reacquainting myself with my old friend Fitness

If any of the following also happens, that’s great:

  • Homeownership
  • Expand my freelance work/blog/side hustles
  • Stop “trying to not” in regard to pregnancy toward the end of age 28

And I’m going to stop there! Planning is important, but if you cling to certain expectations too stubbornly, it can also rob you of the unexpected joys God may throw your way.

As always, thank you for reading and being an incredible part of my life!

I hope you all have a fabulous Dec. 2 😉


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