Three years ago, I was deep in the midst of blogging for Colored Girl Confidential.

And I use that phrase intentionally to reference a time in my life and in my writing when I was simultaneously hovering at the edge of breakthrough and burn out. CGC had just been nominated to the Forbes Top 100 for the second time in a row, my subscriber count was growing by leaps and bounds, and I had finally stumbled into a routine that had me churning out quality content on a fairly consistent basis.

I was also knee deep into dealing with feelings of insecurity and inadequacy and constantly feeling like I had something to prove. (Why? To whom? Both questions that never found any true answers.)

I say all this to say that this was around the time when I was particularly invested in watching what other bloggers were doing (and of course, comparing my success to theirs). And one thing I noticed was that around the first of the year, all the big name bloggers that I followed would write THE post. The annual “year in review” post – complete with professional photos, lessons learned, and charming anecdotes from the previous year.

Every year I’d read these posts as soon as they hit my inbox and I’d wonder… why? Why couldn’t I muster up the energy to process/heal from/celebrate/dissect the previous 365 days? Why had I not yet come up with a theme word, a big goal, a bite sized list of profound yet practical New Year’s resolutions? Where were all my well-lit and flattering photos, capturing the big and small moments of days gone by?

Every year, y’all.

Every year, by the end of New Year’s week I’d somehow convince myself that I was already behind the eight ball. I found myself unable to admit, not even to myself, that amidst all the celebration and boundless momentum that is the new year, I mainly just felt… tired. Bruised. And a little confused about my next steps.

I once read a book where the main character was described as someone who looked as if she “lived hard.” And while this was in no way meant to be a compliment (this particular character struggled with poverty and drug addiction throughout the novel), for whatever reason this moniker found a place down deep in my spirit and settled in.

A woman who lives hard, a small voice said. YOU are a woman who lives hard.

You are a woman who lives hard, because…

It’s not easy to feel – to give yourself permission to deeply acknowledge your own emotions while finding space to process with and validate others.

It’s not easy to be black, to be female in a world that seems to abhors these identities above all others.

It is not easy to think, to question, to use your voice in moments where others may prefer you be silent.

It is not easy to chase magic, to chase love, to chase joy so fucking unapologetically that people sometimes wonder if you’ve got your priorities straight.

It is not easy to live a life such as this. And you are not a woman who lives easy; you are a woman who lives hard.

I used to beat myself up for feeling exhausted at the end of the year. But in recent years, I’ve come to see this as a badge of honor of sorts, an acknowledgement of a year lived to its fullest, messiest, most challenging, most beautiful extent. You don’t live a year like that – a year of challenge, of overcoming, of complexity, and get to wrap it up all pretty on New Year’s day.

And that’s ok.

It’s ok to be tired. It’s ok to move slow. It’s ok to leisurely unfurl into the new year, to go to bed before midnight, to not know your “theme word” until February. It’s ok. I promise I’m right there with you.