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  • Writer's pictureIsabella Hagen

not just a highlight reel

We share a lot of our lives online and I don’t necessarily think that’s a bad thing. For me personally, it’s a creative outlet, a place to express, vent or encourage. Sometimes it’s a way to get inspired or back on track. Other times it’s just a way to free up storage on my phone. Whether you’re scrolling mindlessly or with intent. I hope that you find what you’re looking for. 


Today, for me, it’s a place to share, to hopefully encourage, but mostly to just document life.

Not just the highs, but the lows too. To remind myself that no matter where I’m at or what I’m doing I won’t be there long. So embrace it all, laugh, cry, call your mom, mess up, go crazy, put everything back together, and just genuinely be you.


Here’s to everything 2023 held.


In 2023, I moved into a new apartment. One closer to work and without a roommate. It was lovely and lonely all at once. It’s been my safe place and at times my nightmare, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. The art on the walls, the corner full of plants, the disco balls hanging over the couch, and the tiny little bedroom. The peace it brings after a long day at work. The heartache after a weekend spent at home. Sometimes it feels so empty, but then I’m reminded of all the laughter and love that’s already been here, and I’m excited for everything that is still to come.


In 2023, I celebrated. The chiefs winning the superbowl, my best friend and her sweet little girl, my 26th birthday. There were too many drinks, lots of tears, and things we’ll never speak of again. I went to vegas with a guy I met online. We danced and held hands and took everything in. We didn’t speak for weeks after. I met new people, and made new friends. Some of them stuck, some of them didn’t. I traveled to Colorado, Florida, Alabama, and Tennessee. To see concerts, go sledding, and swim in the ocean. From overpriced uber rides and booking the wrong hotel, to crying when it was all over. I don’t remember every detail, but I remember the deep conversations, the days we spent together, and the love I have for everyone that was there.


In 2023, I had my heart broken, but I didn’t break. I learned that it’s okay to keep loving people who aren’t choosing to love me. It doesn’t mean I’m weak, or delusional, or trying too hard. It means that I am strong and kind and brave. To love someone without getting anything in return is exactly the type of love that I have been searching for and I found it in me. To love genuinely doesn’t take much effort or energy. It just takes knowing who you are, and what you’re capable and worthy of.


In 2023, I took better care of myself. I read books to learn and to relax. I didn’t diet, but I ate healthier. I enjoyed going to the gym, just as much as I enjoyed recovering. I found ways to deal with stress and anxiety that didn’t include alcohol or other substances. I still broke my foot and I had my first panic attack.


In 2023, I ran out of gas on the side of the road when I was overwhelmed and exhausted and thought I’d make it. My niece and nephew were in the back seat. I fought with my family. Said things I shouldn’t have. I missed calls and deadlines and forgot important dates. 

But I kept going.

I remembered more.

I apologized when I was wrong.

I said things that needed to be said.

Then, I learned to stop before it was too late.


In 2024, I’ll stop more often. I’ll look around and enjoy it all.

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