It’s the night before my 28th birthday, and by some strange birthday coincidence, I happened to fill in the last blank page of my diary tonight. And as I wrote in the small book I would never write in again, I felt so blessed to end it on such a high note.

I had nothing but good news to share in this last diary entry for my future self to read, and that warmed my heart. Good news like… I’m taking my first trip to Europe soon! I was published twice in one week on BusinessInsider! I’m making serious progress on my YA novel with my younger sister/co-author!

If I sound happy, it’s because I truly am. The final pages of this diary were written by a beaming, self-confident, and fearless writer Jessica.

But as I flipped back to the first pages of this same diary, I saw how different things were just a year ago.

A year ago, I was ready to quit my job as a receptionist at an animal hospital, officially crossing off yet another position from my list of career ideas. I didn’t want to go back to the mental health field, no matter how ideal it was for me with two psychology degrees. I knew going back to counseling would only make me more miserable.

I was anxious and worried all the time. Depressed was more like it, considering I’d find myself sobbing before bed from time to time. I wrote on the third page of this diary, “I guess tonight is one of those nights where I go to sleep wishing I could wake up as someone else.”

I wasn’t on talking terms with my parents. When we did talk, I picked fights with them until we couldn’t take any more of each other. Pretty much the only happy thing in my life was my partner, and that’s a lot of pressure to place on someone. I really wasn’t in a good place.

And here we are almost one year later, and I can’t help but tell myself,

“I am so proud of you.”

For many things, in both my personal life and in my career. But most importantly, I’m proud of myself for wanting a change in my life so bad that I finally stood up and fought for it instead of waiting for things to change on their own.

I could’ve stayed at that job at the animal hospital. I could’ve been too scared to publish my first article on Medium, and never found a place in this amazing writing community. I could’ve continued being friends with the people who didn’t really care about me.

I could’ve been too afraid to pitch to my first freelance client and my first magazine. (Funny story, I had no idea what freelance writer rates looked like, and I pitched my very first, poorly written, unedited story to a magazine, giving them a rate of $1.00 per word for a story of 2500 words. But at least I tried! Insert crying laughing emoji here.)

I could’ve just accepted that things weren’t ever going to get better. I could’ve stayed right where I was, literally and figuratively. And if I did, I would’ve missed out on all of the happiness I’m feeling right now.

I hope you’ll reflect on how far you’ve come, and how far you will go. Especially on the hard days. I know everyone’s journey is different, and our experiences will differ, but I hope you are in a better place today than you were a year ago. And if not, I hope you are working on getting there. I hope you believe that you will get there.

If you aren’t ending your latest chapter on a high note, I get it. I’ve had those nights where I wished things were different, where I wished I was different. I can’t say I know your pain, because no two wounds are the same, but I can tell you, you’re not alone. My messages are always open if you ever want to talk.

Tonight, I’m looking at this new chapter, knowing it’s going to start and end on a high note. I’m putting it out into the universe. I want to be hopeful and positive and confident about myself and my work.

So I will. I hope you will too.

Jessica Mendez is a full-time writer living in Las Vegas, NV. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from NAU and her master’s degree in family and human development from ASU. In 2018, she left her career in mental health to pursue a career in writing. She is currently working on her debut novel and a collection of bilingual poetry. Follow her on Twitter and Medium to read more of her work.

Image courtesy of Marcos Paulo Prado.